A Mediterranean Diet in Pregnancy May Help Reduce Risk of Preeclampsia

According to research, adhering to a Mediterranean-style diet while pregnant is linked to a decreased risk of developing preeclampsia, and Black women seemed to have the greatest decrease in risk.1✅ JOURNAL REFERENCE
DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.121.022589

Prior research has revealed that adhering to a Mediterranean diet, which consists mainly of fish, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, olive oil, nuts, and legumes lowers the risk of heart disease.

Preeclampsia, a pregnancy-related condition characterized by severe hypertension and kidney or liver damage, is a significant cause of complications as well as death for the mother and her unborn baby. Preeclampsia also increases the risk of heart diseases, such as heart failure, stroke, heart attack, or hypertension by more than twice later in life.

Women who have preeclampsia are at higher risk of low birth weight babies or preterm delivery, and children born to mothers who have preeclampsia also have a higher risk of heart disease and hypertension.

According to the researchers, although black women have a higher risk of preeclampsia, research is limited on the potential treatments for women with a high risk. The researchers looked into the potential connection of a Mediterranean-style diet in a large group of ethnically and racially diverse women with a high risk of preeclampsia.

This study included data from over 8,500 women with an average age of 25 years old, and almost half of them were Black, approximately a quarter were Hispanic and the rest were white or “other” race. A Mediterranean-style diet score was created determined by the responses of the participants to food frequency questionnaires and interviews, which were carried out within 3 days of childbirth.

The results revealed that:

  • 10% of the women participating in the study developed preeclampsia.
  • Participants with any type of diabetes prior to pre-pregnancy obesity and pregnancy were two times as likely in developing preeclampsia in comparison to those not having those conditions.
  • Preeclampsia risk was over 20% lower in the women adhering to the Mediterranean-style diet while pregnant.
  • Black women with the lowest scores for the Mediterranean-style diet had the highest risk for preeclampsia in comparison to all other non-Black participants who followed the Mediterranean-style diet more closely.
Mediterranean Diet Infographic

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