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TODAY.com: Following a Mediterranean Diet During Pregnancy Has Lots of Benefits, Study Finds

TODAY.com recently interviewed Natalie Bello, MD, MPH, director of Hypertension Research and associate professor of Cardiology in the Smidt Heart Institute at Cedars-Sinai, about a recent study linking a Mediterranean diet to a lower risk of preeclampsia and other adverse pregnancy outcomes, including eclampsia and gestational diabetes.

Bello is senior and corresponding author of the study, which published in JAMA Network Open. She and her coauthors analyzed the diets of nearly 8,000 pregnant women.

“We found that women who reported eating foods consistent with the Mediterranean diet around the time of conception and pregnancy had a lower risk of adverse outcomes and, in particular, preeclampsia and diabetes,” Bello told TODAY.com. “We found that women of all races and ethnicities benefited equally, and among those who were 35 and older, there was even stronger benefit from this diet.”

Preeclampsia is a blood pressure condition that develops during pregnancy. Bello said it can be especially dangerous if it affects other organs, like the kidneys or the liver.

“The reason we worry is it’s associated with a risk for both mom and baby, and if the blood pressure isn’t treated, it can become eclampsia, and the woman can experience seizures,” Bello told TODAY.com.

The Mediterranean diet includes fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish and other anti-inflammatory foods.

For women looking to change their diets during pregnancy, Bello advised a gradual shift.

“I tell women who want to switch to a healthier diet to start small and not to completely revamp their diets,” Bello told TODAY.com. “Start by adding an extra vegetable and swapping out one meat meal. Try to choose whole grains and avoid ultra-processed foods.”

Click here to read the complete story on TODAY.com.