New research has found that the Mediterranean diet is linked to a lower risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy.
In a new study evaluating the Mediterranean diet and adverse pregnancy outcomes, investigators from the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai found that women who conceived while following the anti-inflammatory diet had a significantly lower risk of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Network Open, also evaluated the association between the Mediterranean diet and other adverse pregnancy outcomes, including gestational diabetes and hypertension, preterm birth, delivery of a small-for-gestational-age infant, and stillbirth.
Mediterranean diet linked to lower risk of preeclampsia during pregnancy
Preeclampsia is a serious blood pressure condition that develops during pregnancy and puts stress on the mother's heart.
Left untreated, the condition can cause serious complications like weakened kidney and liver function and decreased blood supply to the fetus.
In addition to preeclampsia, the risk of gestational diabetes also decreased in women who more closely followed the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet.
The nine components of a Mediterranean diet are vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish, monounsaturated-to-saturated fat ratio, red and processed meats, and alcohol.
The study was part of the Nulliparous Pregnancy Outcomes Study: Monitoring Mothers-to-be, which enrolled 10,038 women between 2010-2013.
Of the women enrolled, 7,798 were included in the JAMA Network Open study.
Women who were pregnant with their first child were asked to complete a food frequency questionnaire during their first study visit, which occurred in the first trimester.
Benefits of vegetables, legumes and fish
The questionnaire focused on the women's eating habits during the three months prior to their visit.
The data showed that a high Mediterranean diet score was related to 21% lower odds of having any adverse pregnancy outcome, as well as a 28% and 37% lower risk of having preeclampsia/eclampsia and gestational diabetes.
"We also looked at the individual components of the Mediterranean diet and found higher intakes of vegetables, legumes and fish were related to lower associated risk of an adverse pregnancy outcome," the researchers said.