Research Says Eating Carbs Can Lead to a Healthy Pregnancy

Well, if this isn’t a reason to celebrate, we don’t know what is! We all know how important it is to eat healthy during pregnancy. We try to stay away from junk food (try being the operative word there) and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. But a new study says that eating carbs during pregnancy might actually be good for you! As if we needed another reason to love bread.

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Some women cut carbs while pregnant or trying to get pregnant. But researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill say that eating carbs during pregnancy can lead to fewer neural tube defects in babies. So have that side of bread. And that one, too.

Low-carb diets have been gaining in popularity, and have been credited for higher energy and quicker weight loss in some people. But researchers say that women who are pregnant or trying to get pregnant may want to put the breaks on their low-to-no carb eating habits. They found that women who ate more carb-rich foods like bread, pasta, rice, and cereals had a 30% lower risk of having a baby with a neural tube defect. That’s because those foods are packed with folic acid, which is vital to neural tube development (especially in those early weeks of pregnancy).

The study looked at information from 11,285 live births from 1998 – 2011. Researchers measured carb and folic acid intake using responses to food questionnaires.

{Also read: We Are Loving This ‘Boobs’ Breastfeeding Cover!}

Of the 11,285 live births they studied, 9,545 women gave birth to healthy babies. The remaining babies were born with neural tube defects, or the pregnancies ended in stillbirth. Researchers found that women who cut carbs during pregnancy had a 30% higher chance of delivering a baby with a neural tube defect. They attribute this increase to lower amounts of folic acid being consumed by the women who ate fewer carbs.

Now, obviously there are some people who shouldn’t/can’t maintain a carb-heavy diet. If you’re gluten intolerant, or if you’ve been diagnosed with gestational diabetes or are at risk for GD, there are still plenty of ways to get that folic acid in.

Pregnant women should be taking 600-800 micrograms of folic acid a day, so definitely keep up with that daily supplement. Also, there are other foods that are rich in folic acid, like whole grains, dark leafy greens, and some legumes. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned about your carb intake, and find the right balance for you.

(Image: iStock/dolgachov)

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