Pregnancy is a time of immense growth and development. It creates unique demands on the body that entails careful consideration of nutrient intake.

Research shows that what happens in the uterus during pregnancy can have an effect on the child for life. Now that’s a huge responsibility for us to carry around for nine months, but it’s also a wonderful chance to ensure that the growing baby receives all the necessary nutrients.

But what happens when us pregnant woman get overtaken with cravings for chocolate, sweets and bread? Unfortunately these foods actually deplete our body of many needed nutrients we and our baby need. However we can focus our efforts on consuming certain foods that can help eliminate cravings and provide nutrients critical for the proper development of the baby.

Whilst this might sound daunting, please be assured that these meals can be delicious and convenient to prepare.

One of my favourite pregnancy craving foods is potatoes. YES, the plain old humble spud.

Why you may ask? I can give you many reasons, however, information overload during pregnancy is not cool, for this, I will focus on only 5 reasons:

1| Delicious, easy and convenient
We need to focus on eating whole foods that nature has provided us with and stay away from processed foods. Steamed, baked, boiled or roasted, potatoes provide a delicious unprocessed food that is quick and easy to prepare. Plus, South Africa ranks amongst very few countries that can supply its consumers with fresh from the ground potatoes all year round. Now why not stock up on potatoes?

2| Fibre
Just about every pregnant woman has suffered from some digestive issues and constipation. Adding dietary fibre to your diet will assist in decreasing constipation and may lower blood pressure. Pregnant woman should be eating at least 25g of fibre per day. Potatoes offer 3g of fibre per medium potato. Say goodbye to constipation and eat potatoes!

3| Folic acid
Potatoes supply a source of folic acid*, which is particularly important during pregnancy because it reduces the risk of your baby developing brain and spine problems. Pregnant woman need approximately 400 – 600ug per day. Potatoes provide 66ug (16% of the required intake).

4| Chromium
Chromium is an essential mineral that plays a role in how insulin helps the body regulate blood sugar levels. Insulin is a hormone that your body uses to change sugar, starches, and other food into energy needed for daily life. Potatoes are high in chromium – what this means to you as a pregnant woman, is that it may assist in controlling blood sugar changes. Pregnant woman need approximately 30ug a day. One medium potato will provide half your requirements for the day.

5| Carbohydrates
Your baby’s main source of energy in the womb is glucose, which is found in carbohydrate foods such as potatoes. During pregnancy there is a drop in blood sugar levels and this may be one reason why you crave carbohydrates. Potatoes are actually a really easy thing to eat – especially if you are feeling queasy – and they are filling and delicious too.

The table below shows how nutrient needs increase during pregnancy…

Vitamin K Vitamin C Energy Zinc Folic acid
Vitamin E Vitamin B12 Riboflavin Vitamin B6 Iron
Calcium Magnesium Niacin Iodine
Phosphorus Vitamin A Thiamin protein
Vitamin D Choline
Biotin Selenium

Safety when eating Potatoes during pregnancy: Discard any green potatoes even if they are not green all over. Do not eat potatoes which show signs of damage or rotting and carefully remove any sprouts before cooking.

*Folic acid content for a medium potato obtained from the USDA Nutrient database.

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