Can A Mediterranean Diet In Pregnancy Can Reduce Chance Of Childhood Obesity?

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New Study links diet rich in vegetables, fish and good quality extra virgin olive oil with healthier eating behaviours and BMI throughout childhood.

Updated September 20th 2021

Mediterranean Diet For Pregnancy
Mediterranean Diet For Pregnancy


  1. Why Include Extra Virgin Olive Oil As Part Of A Pregnancy Diet
  2. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: A Vital Component In Mediterranean Diet
  3. What Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil And How Is It Made?
  4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil & The Harvard Medical School Food Pyramid
  5. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Oleic Acid And Nutritional Info

Why Include Extra Virgin Olive Oil As Part Of A Pregnancy Diet

A major new study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that the children of mothers who eat a diet rich in inflammatory foods including sugars, artificial trans fats and processed meats will experience greater weight gain between the ages of three and ten years.

The findings of this latest research add weight to previous understanding that weight gain problems may begin in pregnancy as pathways that program metabolism and patterns of eating are sensitive to in utero influences.

Among the recommendations from the research team is that pregnant women consider a Mediterranean Diet, high in plant-based foods, including extra virgin olive oil, fish and unsaturated fats to benefit both mother and child’s health. These foods provide important sources of vitamin D, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and other nutrients that have been shown to be beneficial for offspring health.

In their study, Author Carmen Monthé-Drèze and colleagues analysed data on 1,459 mother-child pairs collected by Project Viva — an ongoing study into maternal and child health being conducted at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Massachusetts.

During their respective pregnancies, each mother was asked to complete questionnaires on their dietary intake, which the researchers interpreted through the lens of three different dietary indices. These included the Dietary Inflammatory Index, the Mediterranean diet score, and the Alternate Healthy Eating Index for Pregnancy.

After giving birth, each child was weighed and measured several times between birth and adolescence, from which body mass index (BMI) values were calculated. Finally, the researchers analysed how each mother’s dietary index scores were associated with their offspring’s growth trajectory.

“Maternal nutrition during pregnancy may have a long-term impact on children’s weight trajectories,” said Dr Monthé-Drèze.

She added that the findings suggest “there are specific developmental periods when nutrition during pregnancy may influence offspring growth.”

“We found that a pregnancy diet with higher inflammatory potential was associated with faster BMI growth rates in children between three and ten years of age.”

“We also found that lower adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet during pregnancy was associated with higher BMI trajectories through adolescence.”

Researchers also revealed that, of those taking part in the study, mothers who more closely followed an anti-inflammatory diet were also more likely to be well-educated, have a higher income, and less likely to smoke or have obesity themselves.  As reported in Insider, this is likely due to the fact that financial and social resources impact dietary health and consistent access to healthy food makes a difference in preventing obesity.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: A vital component in Mediterranean Diet

Extra virgin olive oil is an integral part of the Mediterranean diet. A healthy diet that is associated with sensible tasty portions and slower, more enjoyable eating. People who eat a Mediterranean diet have been shown to have a remarkable variety of health benefits. The extra virgin olive oil in the Mediterranean diet can quickly satisfy hunger. It can lead to fewer total calories ingested at mealtime.

What Is Extra Virgin Olive Oil And How Is It Made?

Fats And Oils
Fats And Oils

Olive oil is oil that has been pressed from olives, the fruits of the olive tree. The production process is incredibly simple — olives are pressed to extract their oil. However, lower quality versions can be extracted using chemicals, or even diluted with other, cheaper oils. Therefore, buying the right type of olive oil is crucial.

The best type is extra virgin olive oil. It’s extracted using natural methods and standardized for purity and certain sensory qualities like taste and smell. Olive oil that is truly extra virgin has a distinct taste and is high in phenolic antioxidants, the main reason why it’s so beneficial.

Also, there are refined or “light” olive oils, which have often been extracted with solvents, treated with heat, or even diluted with cheaper oils like soybean or canola oil. For this reason, it’s essential to inspect the label carefully and buy from a reputable seller. Even oil that is labelled extra virgin may have been adulterated with cheaper oils.

True extra virgin olive oil is 100% natural and very high in antioxidants. Many of the lower quality olive oils have been processed and adulterated with cheaper oils.

Extra virgin olive oil is one of the few oils that can be eaten without chemical processing. For instance, nearly every other vegetable oil has been detoxified and refined with steam and solvents. Fresh pressed extra virgin olive oil can be eaten immediately. It retains the natural flavours, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other healthy products of the ripe olive fruit.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil & The Harvard Medical School Food Pyramid

Evoo And The Mediterranean Diet
Evoo And The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet – rich in extra virgin olive oil – is one of the most researched diets in the world.  There is no end of evidence to support the benefits of a diet rich in healthy fats to your levels of LDL cholesterol – a major risk factor for heart disease.

At Morocco Gold, we are always delighted to discover new research into extra virgin olive oil health benefits to understand more about where it has reduced the risk of certain common diseases. We know extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on the planet but we really want you to know why!

The Harvard Pyramid is based on the Mediterranean diet. Its structure came from the diets of the inhabitants of Crete and Southern Italy in the 1960’s. Presented in 1993 by Walter Willett of the Harvard School of Public Health at the International Conference on the Mediterranean Diet held in Cambridge Massachusetts. Note that olive oil is one of the basic components. This pyramid has enjoyed decades of increasing acceptance.

Dietary fats are highly controversial, with debates about animal fats, seed oils, and everything in between in full force. That said, most people agree that extra virgin olive oil is good for you. Part of the Mediterranean diet, this traditional oil has been a dietary staple for some of the world’s healthiest populations.

According to the Harvard Medical School Food Pyramid, the total amount of fat you eat, whether high or low, is not really linked with disease. Similarly, what really matters is the type of fat you eat. In other words, the “bad” fats, saturated and trans fats, increase the risk for certain diseases. Similarly, the “good” fats, mono-unsaturated, and poly-unsaturated fats like those contained in extra virgin olive oil lower disease risk. In conclusion, the key to a healthy diet is to substitute good fats for bad fats and to avoid trans fats.

Do you know your saturated fats from your unsaturated fats? We are here to help and round up the latest evidence showing what a great choice extra virgin olive oil can be for your overall health.

Extra Virgin Olive Oil: Oleic Acid And Nutritional Info

Studies show that the fatty acids, including oleic acid, and antioxidants in olive oil can offer some powerful health benefits:

Extra virgin olive oil is nutritious. It contains modest amounts of vitamins E and K and plenty of beneficial fatty acids.

Some more olive oil nutritional info – One tablespoon (13.5 grams) of olive oil contains the following:

  • Saturated fat: 14%
  • Monounsaturated fat: 73% (mostly oleic acid)
  • Vitamin E:  13% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin K:  7% of the DV

Notably, extra virgin olive oil shines in its antioxidant content. Antioxidants are biologically active, and some of them can help fight serious diseases. The oil’s main antioxidants include the anti-inflammatory oleocanthal, as well as oleuropein, a substance that protects LDL (bad) cholesterol from oxidation.

Olive oil is very high in monounsaturated fats and contains a modest amount of vitamins E and K. True extra virgin olive oil is loaded with antioxidants, some of which have powerful health benefits.