A recent UK study concluded that pregnant women who consume omega-3 fatty acids give birth to leaner children than pregnant women who consume omega-6 polyunsaturated fats. Read on to understand the science between this important dietary choice.
Everyone knows that what a pregnant woman eats can affect her unborn child. However, a recent study titled “Maternal Plasma Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Status in Late Pregnancy is Associated with Offspring Body Composition in Childhood” published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism examines the difference between diets high in omega-3 fatty acids versus diets high in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats.
The University of Southampton, UK’s Dr. Nicholas Harvey organized this research study, which examined over 250 pregnant women. They took blood samples and measured them for omega-6 and omega-3 levels. This study found a correlation between women whose blood contained high levels of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats and children who struggled with weight around the ages of four and six. The researchers concluded that women whose diets contained higher amounts of omega-6 from sources such as vegetable oils were more likely to have children with an increased fat mass than women whose diets contained higher amounts of omega-3 from sources such as fish.
The results of this study seem to be common sense; the scientific community has long endorsed the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids for overall health. It makes sense that these benefits would pass from a mother to her baby. Dr. Harvey’s study recommends increasing omega-3 consumption while limiting omega-6 consumption for optimum benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids are most commonly found in fish; however, if you’re pregnant you need to be mindful of mercury levels of some fish, so you may want to find a supplemental source to increase your daily intake of omega 3 safely. However, as always, if you’re pregnant, check with your doctor before taking any supplements!