Eating This Popular Oil Every Day During Pregnancy Improves Breast Milk, Study Shows

Here’s why expecting moms should reach for the EVOO.

By: Amanda Mushro

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Photo by: HakanEliacik / 500px

HakanEliacik / 500px

For women trying to eat healthy while pregnant, a salad is a great option. The veggies and protein are great for mom and for baby, but what about the dressing? Instead of pouring ranch dressing on that salad, a new study says women who are expecting should use extra virgin olive oil on their food instead. Not only is the oil rich in omega 3 and omega 6 fats that are good for mom, but they also help the baby grow and develop. Now new research says that the popular oil actually helps with the quality of a mother’s breast milk once the baby is born.

According to a recent study published in the journal Food Chemistry, the study is a first of its kind and the findings are based on female rats being fed olive oil for six weeks. The rats in the study were separated into three groups. One group was fed water, the other a refined oil, and the last group was given extra virgin olive oil. Researchers followed and studied the rats during pregnancy and into the stage after giving birth where they nursed their pups.

What researchers found during an analysis of the rat’s blood samples was that the rats who ate EVOO had chemical derivatives in the mothers and their pups. Researchers added that antioxidants called hydroxytyrosol and tyrosol destroy free radicals that damage DNA and with the increase in olive oil in the mother’s diet, these antioxidants were also found in the pup’s blood analysis.

"Our findings shed fresh light on the importance of the maternal diet during pregnancy and lactation," says Dr. Maria Rodriguez-Lagunas, lead researcher on the study. "They provide the basis for future studies on the impact of plant compounds on the health of mother and offspring."

Since diet is such an important aspect of maternal health, this study gives mom-to-be insight into additional foods to include in her diet. EVOO has a ton of other health benefits too, such as:

  • It helps in the absorption of vitamin D
  • It’s easy to digest and can help with constipation
  • Some studies have shown a lower risk of asthma in mothers who have consumed a consistent amount of olive oil throughout pregnancy

Added Dr. Rodriguez-Lagunas: "To date, several studies had described the composition of breast milk can be affected by biological and environmental factors to which the mother is exposed, such as the mother's diet. Therefore, the nutritional interventions during pregnancy and the breastfeeding period can have an impact on the quality of breast milk, and consequently, on the infant's health."

If you’re looking for more ways to include olive oil in your diet, try drizzling it over your veggies when you cook, adding it to your pizza and pasta, use it as a dipping oil, or add it to the base of your salad dressing.

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