Mediterranean Diet: According to a new study, women who follow a Mediterranean-style diet are less likely to develop dangerously high blood pressure during pregnancy.
According to a new study, eating a Mediterranean-style diet during pregnancy may help pregnant women avoid preeclampsia, a dangerous complication that can be fatal for mothers and their newborns.
Researchers looked at data from 8,507 pregnant women who were interviewed about their regular eating habits after delivery for the study. Almost half of the women in the study were African-American, 28% were Hispanic, 12% were white, and 12% were from other racial or ethnic groupings.
Preeclampsia affects one out of every ten pregnant women. According to research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, women who ate the most closely resembled a Mediterranean diet were 22 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia than those who ate the least.
A Mediterranean-style diet seemed to protect Black women the most, as they were 26 percent less likely to develop preeclampsia when they ate this manner. Non-Black women in the research who ate the most Mediterranean-style foods had a 19 percent lower risk of preeclampsia.
“We were astonished to find that women who ate a Mediterranean-style diet more regularly had a lower risk of preeclampsia, with Black women having the highest reduction in risk,” said lead study author Anum Minhas, MD, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, in a statement.
“This is remarkable because there are very few interventions during pregnancy that have been found to produce any meaningful benefit,” Dr. Minhas said. “Medical treatments during pregnancy must be approached with caution to ensure that the benefits outweigh the potential risks to the mother and unborn child.”
What Is the Mediterranean Diet and How Does It Work?
Vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, olive oil, whole grains, and fish are the mainstays of a Mediterranean diet. People who eat in this manner avoid red and processed meat, preferring instead to derive their protein from lean sources such as poultry and seafood. Adults can minimize their risk of heart disease by eating a Mediterranean-style diet.
What Is Preeclampsia and How Does It Affect You?
Preeclampsia, a disorder that causes very high blood pressure and liver or kidney damage in pregnant women, is a leading cause of problems and death in both mothers and babies. Preeclampsia puts women at risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and heart failure later in life, according to the researchers.
Women who experience preeclampsia are more prone to have premature births or babies that are underweight. Previous research has indicated that their children are at a greater risk of getting high blood pressure and heart disease as they grow up.
One weakness of this study is that it relied on participants to accurately recollect and report what meals they ate, and it’s conceivable that they didn’t remember or describe their eating habits accurately. It’s also likely that dietary interviews conducted shortly after delivery do not accurately reflect women’s eating habits throughout time.
Nonetheless, the findings provide further evidence that healthy eating habits during pregnancy can reduce the risk of preeclampsia, a problem that affects up to one in ten women, according to the study team.
“It’s extremely crucial for pregnant women to eat healthful foods like vegetables, fruits, and legumes on a daily basis,” Minhas said. “Their health during pregnancy has an impact on their future cardiovascular health as well as the health of their baby.”