The Mediterranean Diet During Pregnancy Has Plenty of Benefits

Fond of the Mediterranean diet? A new study has revealed numerous benefits of such kind of food during pregnancy and planning.

Maria Zavialova

The Mediterranean diet can reduce the risk of developing dangerously high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia) and other adverse effects in pregnant women. This is stated in a new study by the American Schmidt Heart Institute, published in late December 2022 in the peer-reviewed journal JAMA Network Open.

The researchers assessed the link between an anti-inflammatory diet (the Mediterranean diet is just that) and other pregnancy complications. These include gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia, preterm birth, low birth weight for age, and stillbirth.

The reason for our concern is that this (pre-eclampsia – ed.) is associated with a risk for both the mother and the child. And if blood pressure is left untreated, it can develop into eclampsia, and a woman can experience cramps. This can also involve the kidneys, liver, and blood clotting.

Natalie Bello, MD, MPH, senior and corresponding author of the study and director of Hypertension Research in the Smidt Heart Institute

She further emphasized that this condition may compel doctors to consider inducing premature labor as a measure to safe both the mother and the baby.


To gain a more comprehensive understanding of how the Mediterranean diet prevents pregnancy complications, Natalie Bello and her colleagues analyzed data from a study on infertility outcomes. The study involved 10,038 women in their first trimester of their first pregnancy, who were followed until delivery.

At the start of the study, the women were asked to fill out a questionnaire about their dietary habits. Their responses were categorized into nine components of the Mediterranean diet: vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish, ratio of monounsaturated to saturated fats, red and processed meat, and alcohol. The researchers assigned a score to measure how closely each woman’s food consumption aligned with the Mediterranean diet.

For their analysis, Bello and her colleagues utilized data from 7,798 women who had complete information available.

Does the Mediterranean diet truly lower the risks of complications during pregnancy?

Women who strictly followed the Mediterranean diet experienced a 21% reduced risk of any adverse pregnancy outcomes. Furthermore, they had a 28% lower risk of developing preeclampsia, and a 37% lower risk of developing gestational diabetes.

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. 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.

Professor Natalie Bello for TODAY.com

According to her, the study also shows that following a Mediterranean diet during conception can also improve pregnancy outcomes.

The Mediterranean Diet is Also Good for Men

Another recent study published in the journal Nutrients found that the Mediterranean diet can also improve sperm quality. Men’s fertility increased by reducing inflammation in the body. Among the particularly effective components were monounsaturated fats, flavonoids, vitamins C and E, polyphenols, and limited consumption of processed meat.

At the same time, diets low in fruits and vegetables and high in sodium and fat are associated with an increased risk of inflammation.

Read more about nutrition and vitamins preparing for pregnancy from Natalia Silina, founder of the Women’s Health School.

Learn how to prepare for pregnancy effectively in the course Preparing for Pregnancy. I’m eager to file all of these courses in English, just send me a request to dr.silinaeducation@gmail.com.

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