The main factors associated with the increased risk of developing metabolic and cardiovascular diseases in women during pregnancy are adverse pregnancy outcomes. This prospective cohort study demonstrated that the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk of developing adverse pregnancy outcomes, in particular preeclampsia/eclampsia and gestational diabetes.
The Mediterranean diet is characterized by a high intake of plant-based foods, such as vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, and monounsaturated fats, and a low intake of saturated fats and processed meats. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with decreased adiposity, favorable glycemic profiles and lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure. All of these factors play a role in the preeclampsia and gestational diabetes.
About the study
This prospective cohort study evaluated whether adherence to a Mediterranean diet pattern around the time of conception is associated with a lower risk of developing adverse pregnancy outcome. Adverse pregnancy outcome has been defined as having one or more of the following: gestational hypertension, preeclampsia/eclampsia, gestational diabetes, preterm birth, and delivery of a small-for-gestational-age infant.
The study involved 7,798 geographically, racially and ethnically diverse nulliparous American women (mean age, 27.4 years) in the first trimester of live single pregnancies, and followed them throughout the delivery.
The authors evaluated the association of an Alternate Mediterranean Diet (aMed) score, which contains foods that are characteristic of the Mediterranean diet, with a risk of developing adverse pregnancy outcome. All dietary variables were energy adjusted using the nutrient density method.
The aMed score consists of nine components: vegetables (excluding potatoes), fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, fish, monounsaturated to saturated fat ratio, red and processed meats, and alcohol. Each component had one score, the components scores were then summed to create the overall aMed score, with a higher score representing a closer resemblance to the Mediterranean diet.
The results showed that women with the highest adherence to this diet before conception had the lowest risk of developing adverse pregnancy outcomes, in particular preeclampsia or eclampsia and gestational diabetes. Higher intake of vegetables, fruits, legumes, fish, and whole grains and lower intake of red meat and processed meat were associated with a lower risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes.
The authors concluded that these findings showed that the Mediterranean diet pattern can be an important lifestyle approach to preventing adverse pregnancy outcomes in US women.
This article was published in JAMA. Makarem N. Association of a Mediterranean Diet Pattern With Adverse Pregnancy Outcomes Among US Women. JAMA Network Open 2022; 5(12): e2248165 (Open Access) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2799855
It should be noted here that a recent systematic review and network meta-analysis demonstrated that the Mediterranean and low fat diets reduce all cause mortality in patients with increased cardiovascular risk. https://discovermednews.com/systematic-review-and-network-meta-analysis-the-mediterranean-and-low-fat-diets-reduce-all-cause-mortality-in-patients-with-increased-cardiovascular-risk/
In addition, a large population-based prospective cohort study showed that higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower risk for all-cause dementia. https://discovermednews.com/higher-adherence-to-the-mediterranean-diet-is-associated-with-a-lower-risk-of-dementia/