It’s very important to maintain a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy. The fact is that when you’re pregnant your body needs additional vitamins and minerals to ensure that you get the nutrients both you and your developing baby need. For a healthy pregnancy, you need to consume a variety of foods, which involves the right amounts of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, as well as consuming many vegetables, and fruits. And following a Mediterranean diet – which involves eating plenty of fresh, non-starchy produce – has been found to be beneficial for pregnant women, as per a new study conducted at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health. The diet has also been associated with many health benefits, including improved weight loss, reduced incidence of cancer and a healthier heart.
The study, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, found that pregnant women with higher intake of the Mediterranean diet had a 32% lower risk of having children with accelerated growth patterns than those who did not follow such diet. The Mediterranean diet has earlier been associated with lower obesity and cardiometabolic risk in adults. The Mediterranean diet may vary by country and region, however, in general, it is characterised by a high content of fruits, vegetables, olive oil legumes, nuts, beans, grains, and healthy fats such as olive oil.
According to Sílvia Fernandez, researcher and first author of the study, the study also observed that mothers with lower adherence to the Mediterranean diet were younger, consumed more calories, compared to those women who did follow the diet. They also had a higher probability of smoking and a lower education and social level, she said.
Reportedly, the study was aimed at evaluating the relationship between adherence to a Mediterranean diet during pregnancy and growth patterns and cardiometabolic risk in early infancy.
How to make your meal plan more Mediterranean
Going the Mediterranean way is one of the best things you can do for your health, particularly waistline and heart health. Perhaps, many people switch to this eating style to improve their health.
Here are six simple steps to help you get started or make your diet more Mediterranean:
- Include plenty of plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables – broccoli, spinach, cauliflower, kale, carrots, onions, cucumbers, apples, bananas, pears, oranges, berries, etc – in your diet.
- Replace your butter with healthy fats from olive oil, nuts, and avocados.
- Eat fish and poultry at least twice a week.
- Include legumes and whole grains in your daily diet.
- Flavour your meals with spices and herbs such as garlic, basil, mint, cinnamon, and pepper while cutting back on salt.
- Try to limit red meat to no more than a few times a month
In addition to adhering a healthy meal plan, make sure that you get plenty of exercise to stay fit and healthy.