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Nutrition experts have long known that olive oil, which is rich in antioxidants and bioactive compounds, provides protection against cardiovascular disease. But a recent review suggests that the beneficial effects of olive oil extend to maternal and fetal health, too. Pregnant women who consumed more olive oil were less likely to develop pregnancy-related complications, and their infants were more likely to have healthy weights than those who consumed less.

Researchers analyzed the findings of nine studies investigating the effects of olive oil on maternal and fetal outcomes. More than 44,000 women participated in the various studies.

The researchers found that a higher intake of olive oil was associated with a lower risk of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and pregnancy-related cardiovascular complications. Higher intake was also associated with a lower risk of an infant being small for gestational age (which increases the risk of infant mortality) or large for gestational age (which increases the risk of birth complications).

Nutrition plays an important role in prenatal health, and these findings suggest that olive oil can play a role in protecting both moms and babies during pregnancy. Other evidence suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may even prevent pre-term birth. Learn more in this clip featuring Dr. Bill Harris.

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