The USDA recommends that women consume 2 cups of fruit daily. This can include fruits that are fresh, canned, dried or frozen, as well as 100-percent fruit juice.
Fruit not only contains important vitamins, minerals and fiber but may also provide benefits for the children of moms-to-be who consume more fruit during pregnancy.
According to a new study from Alberta, Canada, the children of mothers that consumed higher levels of fruit during pregnancy, had better cognitive development by the time they were one-year-old.
Researchers said the effects of eating more fruit on test scores were significant.
"It's quite a substantial difference," Dr. Piush Mandhane, an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta, said in a press release. "We know that the longer a child is in the womb, the further they develop -- and having one more serving of fruit per day in a mother's diet provides her baby with the same benefit as being born a whole week later."
For the study, researchers analyzed data on 688 one-year-old children collected as part of the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development study, and considered the amount of fruit their mothers consumed during pregnancy, gestational age at birth, parental lifestyle factors, including income and education, and cognitive tests given to the children.
Two-thirds of the population falls between 85 and 115 on the traditional IQ scale, with the average at about 100. The researchers found if pregnant mothers ate six or seven servings of fruit or fruit juice per day, their children scored six or seven points higher on IQ tests at one year old. There was no improvement in learning when only the babies were fed fruit.
The researchers noted that future studies will explore longer-term benefits of increased fruit consumption during pregnancy beyond one year of life, as well as whether higher intake of fruit affects development of other parts of the brain.
"We found that one of the biggest predictors of cognitive development was how much fruit moms consumed during pregnancy. The more fruit moms had, the higher their child's cognitive development," Mandhane said.
Experts recommend that pregnant women eat a variety of foods throughout the day to make sure they and their baby get the nutrients they need. A balanced diet contains fruits and vegetables, breads and grains, protein and dairy. Doctors often prescribe prenatal vitamins just in case a mom-to-be isn’t able to get all the nutrients she needs by diet alone.
While fruit is important to one’s overall diet, pregnant women should consult with their OB/GYN about their intake if they are diabetic or susceptible to gestational diabetes.
The study was published in the online edition of EBioMedicine,
Story source: Stephen Feller, http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2016/05/26/Eating-fruit-while-pregnant-helps-babys-cognitive-development-study-says/3311464273928/?spt=sec&or=hn