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We have heard how beneficial Mediterranean diet is. Virgin olive oil, red wine, rye bread, fresh fruit, lovely raw salads and meals based on pulses, fish and small quantities of meat form the base of this ancient and healing diet, which is now known to safeguard our heart and mental health. But what if the blessings of Mediterranean diet can extend to pregnancy and baby wellbeing?
It is always a great thing to see solid scientific evidence about the powerful effect of healthy diet, although given the foods on which Mediterranean diet is based, it is hardly a surprise that is comes with so many health benefits. So we have this very interesting, brand new study from Australia which basically tells us that women who eat a Mediterranean diet before pregnancy have less risk of suffering from hypertensive problems during pregnancy . This means that this diet somehow protects pregnant women and their babies from harmful pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia and preterm birth. In fact, the more women eat a Mediterranean diet, the more health benefits and protection from gestational hypertension they enjoy (!).
Unlike many small, pilot studies with few participants, this is a large study including a 9 year-follow-up of more than 3,500 women in Australia. This is a significant population sample, meaning that this protective effect of the Mediterranean diet is a real one. Of course there is more evidence about the beneficial effects of fruit and vegetables in pregnancy for the prevention of gestational hypertension. A recent review from 2014 also found an association between consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables and reduced risk for pregnancy hypertension . Adequate calcium and magnesium also have such protective effects.
Why is this important?
Preventing pregnancy hypertension is a big thing. This condition is serious and one of the most common disorders in pregnancy that could affect the health of the mother and put in risk the baby´s health as well. Very high blood pressure in late pregnancy can easily be a reason for emergency delivery and preterm birth, further introducing the risk of low birth weight and having immature lung development for the baby, among other problems associated with preterm delivery. Couple severe hypertension with protein in urine and we have preeclampsia, with even more serious dangers for mother and baby.
Sure, there are risk factors that predispose a woman to gestational hypertension and preeclampsia, such as obesity and family history for which we can do some great custom work for each patient, depending on their background. But think about it. A woman can realistically reduce her risk to having high blood pressure and all the nasties that come with it during pregnancy simply by eating delicious Mediterranean-style meals!
This is the kind of advice you get from up-to-date scientific research and evidence. The power of proper nutrition is an incredible holistic tool for long-term health and wellbeing. A healthy pregnancy is your ticket to a good quality of life for the 40 weeks of gestation and a super-healthy baby.
If you are planning for a baby in the near future or are already trying to conceive, do have a look at Mediterranean style kitchen. It is delicious, easy and science says that it could help you have a great pregnancy and a gorgeous baby.
Schoenaker DA et al. 2015. Prepregnancy dietary patterns and risk of developing hypertensive disorders of pregnancy: results from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health. Am J Clin Nutr. 102(1):94-101.
Danielle AJM Schoenaker et al. 2014. The association between dietary factors and gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. BMC Med. 2014; 12: 157.