"No individual food could fully explain the association with hypertensive disorders, which suggests it's the combination of foods in the Mediterranean-style diet that is important," says Danielle Schoenaker. (Credit: Kun-chia Wu/Flickr)

blood pressure

Diet before pregnancy may cut blood pressure risks

Women who follow a Mediterranean-style diet in the years before becoming pregnant could face a significantly reduced risk of developing hypertensive disorders during pregnancy, new research suggests.

The study finds that young women who followed a diet rich in vegetables, legumes, nuts, tofu, rice, pasta, rye bread, red wine, and fish before pregnancy had a 42 percent lower risk of developing gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia.

The researchers analyzed dietary information relating to 6,149 pregnancies in 3,582 women aged 25 to 30 years in 2003, through data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women’s Health.

Danielle Schoenaker, a PhD candidate in the University of Queensland School of Public Health, says the study emphasizes the importance of a healthy diet for young women.

“Diet is a modifiable factor, and encouraging young women to consume a Mediterranean-style diet could lower their risk of developing gestational hypertension and pre-eclampsia,” Schoenaker says.

“No individual food could fully explain the association with hypertensive disorders, which suggests it’s the combination of foods in the Mediterranean-style diet that is important.

“Hypertensive disorders are a common complication during pregnancy, and lead to an increased post-pregnancy risk of mothers and their children developing chronic diseases.”

Schoenaker stresses that the results indicate a clear relationship between a Mediterranean-style diet and a lower risk of hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, but further studies are needed to confirm the findings.

This study appears in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

Source: University of Queensland

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