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Why a Mediterranean Diet During Pregnancy Will Help Mom in the Long Run

Now would be a good time to re-stock on walnuts and extra virgin olive oil.
ByStephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
Published
July 25, 2019
woman cooking with olive oil
Image: iStock

Women who maintain a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy are more likely to have a lower risk of gestational diabetes, according to results from a recent clinical trial. The foods that matter most? The women in the study had a daily portion of tree nuts, half being walnuts, and extra virgin olive oil. This type of diet resulted in a 35 percent lower risk for gestational diabetes for the women, as well as gaining 2.75 pounds less, compared to women who received standard prenatal care.

Researchers at Queen Mary University of London and the University of Warwick analyzed more than 1,200 pregnant women with metabolic risk factors, including obesity and chronic hypertension. In addition to receiving folic acid and vitamin D supplements, the women were randomly assigned to either a Mediterranean-style diet or a control group that received typical UK prenatal dietary advice, care and weight management. By the end of the study, women in the Mediterranean diet group had a lower chance of developing gestational diabetes.

Those who followed the Mediterranean diet consumed a daily portion of nuts and used extra virgin olive oil as their main source of cooking fat. The diet also had an emphasis on fruit, vegetables, non-refined grains and legumes; moderate to high consumption of fish; small to moderate intake of poultry and dairy products; and low intake of red meat and processed meat. Women were also informed to avoid sugary drinks, fast food and food rich in animal-based fat. The participants received dietary advice at 18, 20, and 28 weeks, and researchers measured their dietary compliance using self-reported feedback from the participants.

Mediterranean-style diets rich in good, unsaturated fats have previously been shown to reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular death in adults, the study mentions. Other studies suggest they even help increase IVF success rates for women and men. Plus, many Mediterranean-inspired foods are considered superfoods during pregnancy. All the more reason for you to stock your pantry with these foods.

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