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This Type of Fat Could Be Harmful to Your Pregnancy

Westerners eat too many foods high in omega-6 fats. These researchers found that it might be negatively affecting pregnancy.

July 24, 2019

Omega-6 fats play a crucial role in the functioning and structure of cell membranes and also help regulate gene activity within the cell.

Linoleic acid is one of the most prominent acids found in Omega-6 fat and is considered an essential fatty acid because the body is unable to synthesize it.

However, according to a recent study published in The Journal of Physiology, overconsumption of linoleic acids may have negative effects on pregnancy.

Continue reading for more information about:

  • The study’s premise and findings
  • Nutrition and pregnancy

The Study

Because the consumption of Omega-6 fats—and by extension, linoleic acid (LA)—is increasing so rapidly in the Western world, a few Australian researchers decided to test the effects of a diet excessively high in LA on pregnant rats.

Potato chips
Potato chips, sunflower seeds, cookies, and butter are just a few examples of foods that contain a lot of omega-6 fats and linoleic acid. Image courtesy of Opting Health.

The researchers discovered “three changes in rat mothers who ate a high linoleic acid diet: their liver had altered concentrations of inflammatory proteins, their circulating concentrations of a protein that can cause contraction of the uterus during pregnancy were increased, and a hormone that can regulate growth and development was decreased.”

These findings suggest that the altered diet poorly affected the pregnant rats as well as the fetuses they carried.

Nutrition and Pregnancy

“You’re eating for two now!” is a common phrase pregnant woman are likely hear from loved ones and strangers alike.

Though the expression itself has become somewhat tired over time, it isn’t any less true.

Pregnant woman cutting fruit for blender
The American Pregnancy Association recommends pregnant women eat an extra 300 calories a day. Consult your doctor for further information regarding diet and pregnancy. Image courtesy of the American Pregnancy Association.

Senior research author Dianne Skelly expresses the significance of nutrition when it comes to pregnancy: “It is important for pregnant women to consider their diet, and our research is yet another example that potentially consuming too much of a certain type of nutrient can have a negative impact on the growing baby [as well as the mother].”

Salad surrounded by fruits and vegetables

Folic acid, which is found in foods like leafy greens, most berries, citrus fruits, nuts, beans, and fortified breakfast cereals, is among the nutrients thought to be especially beneficial for pregnant women, as it supposedly helps to prevent certain birth defects.

Stanford Medicine states “[The additional calories] should come from a balanced diet of protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, with sweets and fats kept to a minimum. A healthy, well-balanced diet during pregnancy can also help to minimize some pregnancy symptoms such as nausea and constipation.”

Fluids are also extremely important to maintaining a healthy diet, so don’t forget to hydrate!

Moderation is Key

Your body requires a well-balanced diet of different vitamins, nutrients, and foods, and this is no different when you’re pregnant.

Omega-6 fats are necessary in order to maintain normal internal bodily activity, just be careful to avoid consuming too many.

If you’re concerned about nutrition during your pregnancy, talk to doctor to see what’s right for you and your body.


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