April 2023

Does the Mediterranean Diet Benefit Pregnancy?

A fair amount of research supports guiding patients toward the Mediterranean diet for a variety of health conditions – from heart health to cognitive function and diabetes. Here’s the latest on a recent study that you might have heard about in the news.

Following the Mediterranean diet more strictly around the time of conception is linked with a reduced risk of developing eclampsia, pre-eclampsia, or gestational diabetes – particularly for those 35 years and up. Regular consumption of foods such as olive oil, nuts, and whole grains were used to determine how closely participants followed the diet. It’s unclear if it affects the risk for stillbirth, low birthweight, premature birth, or high blood pressure during pregnancy.

If patients ask about this, explain that this was only an observational study, so it’s difficult to determine a cause-and-effect relationship. But generally speaking, the Mediterranean diet is a great option for most people – it emphasizes fruits, vegetables, olive oil, fish, and other foods that are generally considered safe and healthy. And if patients want to continue the diet during pregnancy, there’s no reason to expect safety concerns, with the exception of red wine. Fish consumption should also be limited, and some types of fish should be avoided altogether during pregnancy – review the safety section in our fish oil monograph for more details.

In addition to this new data on pregnancy outcomes, there’s also some new evidence on the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for heart disease. Check out our recently updated monograph to learn more.

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