Can Pregnant Women Eat Yams?by Sara Ipatenco
Pregnancy is often fraught with worry about what you eat and what could happen to your unborn baby with each bite you take. You might have heard that you shouldn't eat yams while you're expecting, but that's not entirely true. Yams, similar to sweet potatoes, in their edible form are safe and are a nutritious addition to your pregnancy diet. Wild yam, which is a supplement, isn't safe during pregnancy, however, which is likely where the misconception that yams are dangerous came from.
Edible yams are completely safe to eat while you're pregnant. There is nothing in fresh yams that poses a danger to you or your unborn baby. The catch, however, is to eat and prepare yams in a safe manner. Like most other foods, leaving prepared yams out after cooking them can cause bacteria to grow, which can cause food poisoning, a condition that can be more severe during pregnancy, according to MayoClinic.com. Eating the cooked yams within a few days of preparing them is a smart choice, too. The longer foods hang around in your refrigerator, the higher the chance of bacteria or mold contamination.
Wild yam is a supplement, and, according to Drugs.com, you should avoid it during pregnancy. The supplement is used for a variety of purposes such as to treat hot flashes, menstrual problems and infertility. You should avoid it during pregnancy because supplements aren't regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which means you don't always know what you're getting. Studies about the safety of wild yam during pregnancy are also lacking, so it's not fully known whether the supplement poses a danger to you or your unborn baby.
Fresh yams supply many of the nutrients you need to grow a healthy baby. One cup of cooked yams supplies 0.71 milligrams of iron, a nutrient that helps supply oxygen to your growing baby. That's about 3 percent of the 27 milligrams you need each day. The same serving of cooked yams supplies 16.5 milligrams of vitamin C, which is one-fifth of the 80 milligrams you need on a daily basis. A serving of yams also supplies small amounts of folate, a vitamin that helps prevent birth defects.
Replace your usual baked potato with a baked yam for a new flavor and plenty of nutrients for you and your unborn baby. Top a baked yam with low-fat Greek yogurt and you'll also get a good dose of protein, a nutrient essential for your baby's development. A sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg will lend your baked yam a sweet flavor. Add cubed yams to soups or stews to add essential nutrients and enhance the flavor. Cooked yam cubes also pair well with tossed green salads and pasta salads.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: Yam, Cooked, Boiled, Drained, or Baked, Without Salt
- American Pregnancy Association: Nutrients and Vitamins for Pregnancy
- March of Dimes: Vitamins and Minerals During Pregnancy
- MedlinePlus: Wild Yam
- Drugs.com: Wild Yam
- Drugs.com: Wild Yam
- Drugs.com: Wild Yam Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Warnings
- MayoClinic.com: Food Poisoning
- Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images