By Ellie Teng ‘21
Known for its appealing and delectable taste, the Mediterranean diet is very rich in nutrients. Olive oil, a main component of the Mediterranean diet, benefits the human health when consumed directly or indirectly, and is the main source of healthy fat in the diet. This study tests the effects of olive oil on small for gestational age infants (SGA). Infants who are small for gestational age have an increased risk of childhood morbidity and chronic diseases in adulthood such as respiratory infections, diabetes mellitus, obesity, cardiovascular diseases and psychiatric disorder (1). Therefore, the diet during pregnancy is being studied to determine an association between olive oil consumption and the risk of having a SGA infant.
To begin the study, women aged 18-74 were given a questionnaire to determine intake and portion size. Newborns weighing less than the 10th percentile were considered as SGA and three indices were used to evaluate the mother’s adherence to a Mediterranean diet (a higher score indicates greater adherence to Mediterranean diet). Factors such as socio-demographic characteristics, lifestyles, and quality of prenatal care were also taken into account.
Results from the study suggest the intake of 5 g (a spoonful) of olive oil a day to “protect against risk of SGA.” Evidently, fetal outcome is heavily dependent on the fetus’ environment with maternal nutrition playing a tremendous role. Direct correlations also exist between maternal dietary habits and newborn weight. The study ultimately reveals an inverse relationship between maternal adherence to Mediterranean dietary patterns and risk of SGA.
- JM. Martínez-Galiano, et. al., Effect of adherence to a mediterranean diet and olive oil intake during pregnancy on risk of small for gestational age infants. Nutrients 9 (2018). doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10091234.
- Image retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-benefits-of-olive-oil