a diet rich in carotenes reduces risk of preeclampsia when pregnant

If you are pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant, and want to reduce your risk of preeclampsia, this simple dietary move might help . . . a lot.

Preeclampsia is a serious condition that occurs in as many as 8% of pregnant women, where blood pressure is elevated, fluid is retained, and there is loss of protein in the urine. In the US, preeclampsia is the cause of about 15% of premature births. It occurs in the third trimester.

Several herbs and nutrients have been shown to help reduce the risk. Women with preeclampsia are low in antioxidants, and taking the antioxidant vitamins C and E has been shown to help.

Just off the press research is bringing a new antioxidant to the rescue. A large study compared the diets of 440 women with preeclampsia with the diets of 440 women without. It measured their dietary intake of carotenes.

It found that women who had the most carotene rich diets were 71% less likely to get preeclampsia than the women who had the least carotenes in their diet. The most effective carotenes may have been beta-carotene, lutein and zeaxanthin. Lycopene and beta-cryptoxanthin also helped.

This study offers the promise that eating a carotene rich diet can help protect you from preeclampsia when pregnant.

Other dietary help comes from eliminating trans fatty acids and increasing omega-3 essential fatty acids and increasing fiber, vegetables and other plant foods. Research has also shown that—and here’s the good news—that eating dark chocolate helps.


BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2022 May 21;22(1):427


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