A healthy diet is recommended to prevent the onset of chronic diseases, but what about complications during pregnancy? Does a healthy diet make a difference to pregnancy outcomes?
A recent clinical trial investigated whether eating a healthy diet during the period before pregnancy and during pregnancy has any effect on negative pregnancy outcomes.1
For the purposes of the study, three different healthy diets were considered.
Adherence to alternate Healthy Eating Index (AHEI)
The AHEI diet is based on studies that have identified foods that are associated with a lower risk of developing chronic diseases.2
Mediterranean diet (AMED)
The Mediterranean diet is a diet made up of the main foods of countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. This diet is typically associated with lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and olive oil. Moderate amounts of fish and poultry are included in this diet, in addition to dairy products.
Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)
The DASH diet is a healthy eating plan that was created to help control high blood pressure.3 This diet is a low sodium diet that encourages eating 6-8 servings of grains per day, 4-5 servings of vegetables, 4-5 servings of fruits, 2-3 servings of dairy, with limited meat, poultry, and fish (<6 ounces per day).
The study considered the following risks during pregnancy:
– gestational diabetes
– gestational hypertension
– preterm delivery
How a healthy diet impacts pregnancy outcomes
More than 1,800 pregnant women took part in the study. Each woman reported on their dietary intake at multiple time points during the trial.
The study reported that the women who stuck more closely with the healthy diets had an overall reduced risk of complications during pregnancy, however some of the associations were stronger depending on diet.
The AHEI diet was associated with significant reductions in the risk of gestational diabetes, while the DASH diet was associated with a reduction in the risk of hypertension. The AHEI diet was associated with a reduction in the risk of preeclampsia. Both the AMED and DASH diets were associated with a reduction in the risk of preterm delivery.
- Mengying Li, Jagteshwar Grewal, Stefanie N Hinkle, Samrawit F Yisahak, William A Grobman, Roger B Newman, Daniel W Skupski, Edward K Chien, Deborah A Wing, Katherine L Grantz, Cuilin Zhang, Healthy dietary patterns and common pregnancy complications: a prospective and longitudinal study, The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2021;, nqab145, https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqab145
- Stephanie E. Chiuve, Teresa T. Fung, Eric B. Rimm, Frank B. Hu, Marjorie L. McCullough, Molin Wang, Meir J. Stampfer, Walter C. Willett, Alternative Dietary Indices Both Strongly Predict Risk of Chronic Disease, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 142, Issue 6, June 2012, Pages 1009–1018, https://doi.org/10.3945/jn.111.157222
- DASH diet information. Mayo Clinic. Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/dash-diet/art-20048456
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