The simple diet swap for mums-to-be that could make their babies brainier

According to a new study, mothers can make their babies smarter by making some simple dietary changes during pregnancy.

A Mediterranean diet high in foods like olive oil and walnuts could be an easy way to boost little ones’ noggins, scientists say.

A study suggests that expectant mothers who eat a Mediterranean diet have smarter babies


A study suggests that expectant mothers who eat a Mediterranean diet have smarter babiesPhoto credit: Getty

The study, based on 626 babies and their mothers in Spain, was described as “interesting”.

However, experts warn that there are a number of caveats and that it is still important for expectant mothers to eat healthy.

The participants were divided into three groups – they were either assigned “normal care,” asked to follow a Mediterranean diet, or enrolled in mindfulness-based stress reduction classes.

Those following the Mediterranean diet, often described as the “world’s healthiest,” received free extra virgin olive oil and walnuts.

In addition to healthy fats, the focus of the diet is on fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and a small proportion of dairy products and red meat.

When babies were born and when they were two years old, the researchers used a test that measures five areas of infant development: cognitive, language, motor, adaptive, and socio-emotional development.

The findings, published today in the journal JAMA Network, show that mothers who adhered to the Mediterranean diet had children with “significantly higher scores” in two domains — cognitive and social-emotional well-being — than mothers who received usual care.

According to the researchers, doing well on cognitive tests in early infancy is associated with higher future IQs.

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Developing social and emotional skills helps children in many ways, including conflict resolution, managing their feelings and behaviors, and building self-esteem.

Scientists theorized that several parts of the Mediterranean diet “can induce changes in inflammatory status that impair brain development in utero.”

Those assigned to the mindfulness classes had infants who were more likely to have better social-emotional well-being compared to infants receiving usual care.

The mothers who practiced mindfulness reported less anxiety and stress compared to the other study groups.

And the researchers theorized that doing so might reduce inflammatory proteins and hormones like cortisol, which could impact the fetus’ brain development.

dr Duane Mellor, Registered Dietitian and Lecturer at Aston Medical School in Birmingham said: “This is an interesting study that builds on a study previously conducted on a smaller group in Spain.

“Results in this regard must be viewed with caution as over half of the women who signed up for the study did not complete the study, many because they refused to complete the study or moved away and cannot be contacted .”

“It is not known whether the infants from these pregnancies would have shown the same results.

“It is also not known whether the change in diet or mindfulness led directly to the observed changes, or whether the study was unblinded and the participants knew what was happening that they might have become more motivated and made other beneficial changes.” lifestyle that persisted after birth and was able to explain the results.”

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dr Mellor added, “It is important for women and their families to take care of their health during pregnancy, including eating healthily and taking care of their mental health and well-being.”

“A Mediterranean diet is one way to achieve this, but it’s important to eat healthy foods that you enjoy and not add to the potential stress you feel from worrying too much about what.” you eat.”


The basic principles of the Mediterranean diet are:

  • Fill your plate full of plant-based foods, including vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains
  • Replace butter and other fats with healthy alternatives—think olive oil and canola oil
  • Limit the amount of red meat you eat weekly
  • This includes servings of fish and poultry at least twice a week
  • Instead of using salt to flavor your food, use spices and herbs
  • Drink red wine in moderation
  • move a lot

Aila Slisco

Aila Slisco is a Dailynationtoday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Aila Slisco joined Dailynationtoday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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