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Mediterranean Diet During Pregnancy Lowers Complications

Mediterranean Diet During Pregnancy
Mediterranean Diet During Pregnancy. Credit: Marco Verch / Flickr CC BY 2.0

The health advantages of the Mediterranean diet have been well known. One interesting finding by a group of researchers is that it may reduce the risks of difficulties during pregnancy.

Researchers analyzed the food information of 7,798 “racially, ethnically, and geographically diverse” pregnant women for a study published in JAMA Network Open.

HealthDay reports that the participants, all of whom were expecting their first child, filled out a questionnaire on the foods they ate throughout the first trimester of their pregnancies.

The goal of this study was to determine if women who started following a Mediterranean diet around the time of conception had a reduced risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes (APOs), such as preeclampsia, gestational hypertension, gestational diabetes, premature birth, and stillbirth.

What is a Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is a type of eating pattern that places emphasis on plant-based meals with healthy fats.

A person who follows this eating plan consumes a larger amount of such foods as vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and legumes while consuming very little to no meat products. In addition to a moderate intake of olive oil, the diet includes fish, cheese, and yogurt.

People have made claims about the diet’s beneficial effects on health, which topped this year’s list of best diets for the fifth year running. A more environmentally friendly version of the particular diet was recently shown to have the potential to assist in the reduction of dangerous visceral fats.

“Greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet pattern has been associated with a lower risk for multiple chronic diseases and mortality; we hypothesized that it was associated with a reduced risk of APOs,” the researchers wrote.

Lower risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes (APOs)

The study participants who followed the Mediterranean diet showed a 21 percent decreased risk of APOs compared to those who did not follow it.

Preeclampsia/eclampsia and gestational diabetes were two conditions for which the advantages were highlighted. Risk for these was reduced by 28 percent, and gestational diabetes risk was reduced by 37 percent in those who adhered to the diet.

HealthDay quotes Natalie Bello from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles as saying that the advantages against pregnancy issues were found to be higher among women aged thirty-five and older.

“In general, women over the age of 35 have a much higher risk of developing preeclampsia,” Bello said. “If anything, I would say it’s encouraging.”

“Taken together, our findings demonstrate that in U.S. women, adoption of a Mediterranean diet pattern may represent an important lifestyle approach for the prevention of APOs, particularly in women with advanced maternal age among whom risk for APOs is elevated,” the researchers wrote.

According to Bello, the research just demonstrates that diet adherence is linked to lowered risks and not that it causes them.

This study, however, does contribute to the expanding collection of studies on the Mediterranean diet’s health advantages. For instance, this eating plan has been promoted as a heart-healthy option, and there may be weight maintenance advantages as well.

Nonetheless, before beginning any new diet or eating plan, individuals are advised to always speak with their healthcare professionals as needed.

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