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December 2023

Want a Healthy Pregnancy? Go Mediterranean

Lentils, eggplant, extra-virgin olive oil. They may not be typical pregnancy cravings, but they should be on your grocery list. In several new studies, researchers suggest a delicious, nutritious way to increase your chances of a healthy delivery: eating a Mediterranean diet.

Following this eating plan, which is rich in plant-based foods, may:

  • Improve fertility when you’re trying to get pregnant

  • Decrease your risk of having a pregnancy complication—including gestational diabetes, early birth, and having a small baby—by about 21%

  • Reduce the chances of preeclampsia for all women, including Black women, who face a higher risk

A bounty of benefits

The Mediterranean diet derives from eating habits in Spain, France, and other countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Each nation has its own flair, but common characteristics include:

  • Plenty of produce, including fruits, veggies, and beans

  • Bushels of whole grains

  • A healthy portion of olive oil, nuts, and other unsaturated fats

  • Moderate amounts of dairy, eggs, fish, and poultry

  • Hardly any sweets, red meat, or processed meat

Taken together, this nutrient-rich pattern has been linked to better control of blood sugar, blood pressure, and inflammation. All of this could lead to a healthier future for you and your baby.

Dip your toes in the Mediterranean diet

Pregnancy often brings nausea, cravings, or food aversions. That can make big dietary shifts tough. Fortunately, research suggests even small steps can make a difference.

Try these smart swaps to add a Mediterranean flair:

  • Grab a handful of nuts instead of chips as a snack

  • Smear plant-based spreads—such as olive tapenade; hummus or fava, made with pureed beans; or mashed eggplant—on sandwiches in place of lunchmeat

  • Skip bottled dressing and splash extra-virgin olive oil on salads

  • Replace red meat with beans and lentils

Once baby arrives, sticking with a Mediterranean diet can protect your heart, brain, and even help you live longer. And it’s a smart choice for the whole family.



Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley BSN, RN
Date Last Reviewed: 3/1/2023
© 2000-2024 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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