Adapted from Cortez-Ribiero et al (2022) and an article by Liji Thomas, MD, in News Medical, January 3, 2023
Numerous studies have shown that olive oil can have positive effects on pregnancy.
A recent systematic review published in the journal Nutrition Research is the first to summarize the evidence for the protective effects of EVOO consumption on maternal-fetal health.
Nutrition plays a vital role in the health of a pregnant woman and the outcome of her pregnancy. Olive oil is a healthy source of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and phytochemicals such as polyphenols that promote favorable outcomes in pregnancy. In addition, olive oil is linked to lower rates of gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), preeclampsia (a sudden, dangerous rise in blood pressure), and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) or large-for-gestational-age (LGA) infants.
A systematic review included nine studies from Europe, the UK, and Argentina, conducted between 2008 and 2020. Study sizes ranged from 30 to 35,000 women.
- Six studies were interventional, including five randomized controlled trials, and three were observational (case-control or cohort studies).
- Maternal-fetal outcomes evaluated included SGA, LGA, GDM, premature birth, preeclampsia, and cardiovascular risk.
- The intervenional studies evaluated the effects of EVOO, while the observational studies did not specify the grade of olive oil.
What did this study show?
- EVOO in particular, and olive oil in general, is associated with a reduction in the risk of maternal and fetal adverse effects, including GDM, SGA, LGA, prematurity, and preeclampsia.
- EVOO supplementation was associated with favorable cardiovascular effects in pregnancy, including a decrease in triglyceride levels.
What are the implications?
- SGA increases the risk of poor fetal outcomes, while LGA increases the risk of birth complications. Both SGA and LGA were reduced in association with EVOO intake.
- Both GDM and prematurity were reduced in one or more of the interventional studies. The anti-diabetic effects of EVOO may be attributed to the activity of polyphenols, which can improve insulin sensitivity.
- Two studies evaluated the risk of preeclampsia: increased EVOO consumption reduced the risk in one study; the other did not find a reduced risk of preeclampsia but reported a reduction in gestational weight gain, a risk factor for preeclampsia.
This systematic review is an important, first-of-its-kind summary of the evidence that EVOO can confer protective effects on pregnancy outcomes. More studies focusing on the impact of olive oil consumption on maternal-fetal outcomes are needed.
Reference: Cortez-Ribeiro, AC et al. Olive oil consumption confers protective effects on maternal-fetal outcomes: a systematic review of the evidence. Nutr Res. 2022;110:87-95. doi.org/10.1016/j.nutres.2022.12.013.
Fresh asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables, especially when paired with a luscious olive oil sabayon. If not using the asparagus immediately, trim the ends (as you would cut flowers) and stand upright in a tall glass of water. Cover the tips with a plastic bag and refrigerate for a day or two.
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
- 1 pound green or white asparagus, tough ends trimmed
- 2 egg yolks
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black or white pepper
Place the wine and vinegar in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the mixture by three-quarters and let cool.
Steam the asparagus in a double boiler over medium-high heat until tender, about 8 to 10 minutes; set aside but keep warm.
Transfer the wine reduction to the top of a double boiler and add the egg yolks. Set over simmering water over medium heat. Cook, whisking constantly, until the yolks thicken enough to fall into thin ribbons when the whisk is lifted from the pan. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the olive oil. Thin, if necessary, with one to two tablespoons of water. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange the asparagus on a platter, spoon on the sauce, and serve.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from saveur.com
A splash of sherry or red wine vinegar cuts the richness of the chorizo and brightens the flavors. Find cured Spanish chorizo online or in the international aisle of your supermarket. (Do not confuse cured, salami-like Spanish chorizo with raw Mexican chorizo, which must be cooked before using.)
- 2 slices country-style bread, crusts removed
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
- 1 small shallot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 ounces smoked Spanish chorizo, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 4 skinless cod or halibut fillets, each about 6 ounces
Heat the oven to 425°F. Pulse the bread in a food processor until coarse crumbs form. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and breadcrumbs. Cook, stirring often, until the bread crumbs are golden and crisp, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, add the parsley and oregano, and toss to combine. Wipe out the skillet.
Heat the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil as well as the shallot and chorizo, and cook, stirring often, until the chorizo is just crisp, about 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and stir in the vinegar; season with salt and pepper. Wipe out the skillet.
Heat the same skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of olive oil. Season the cod with salt and pepper and cook until the bottom side begins to turn opaque, about 3 minutes. Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast until the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Serve the cod topped with the chorizo mixture and toasted breadcrumbs.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from bonappetit.com
The cuisine of the Iberian peninsula was heavily influenced throughout history by its many conquerors. This dish, a popular one throughout Spain, was no doubt introduced to the country by the Moors. The key to its texture and flavors is to cook each vegetable slowly and individually. Your patience will be well rewarded!
For the tomato sauce:
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and crushed by hand
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
For the vegetables:
- 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced (for about 2 cups)
- 2 red bell peppers, stemmed and diced (for about 2 cups)
- 1 Cubanelle or Anaheim pepper, stemmed and diced
- 2 medium zucchini squash, stemmed and diced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra for serving
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons grated Manchego cheese, for serving
Make the tomato sauce: Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir-fry the garlic. Add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low (your stovetop’s minimum setting) and cook about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Make the vegetable mixture: Heat a second heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat
and, when hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and stir in the onion. Cook the onion until it becomes translucent and golden. (Do not let the onion brown.) Transfer to a bowl.
Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and stir in the peppers. Cook over low heat, stirring from time to time. Add the peppers to the onions. Cook the zucchini the same way as the peppers. Leave in the pan. Return the onions and peppers to the pan with the zucchini; add the tomato sauce. Turn the heat to very low. Cook for 45 minutes, seasoning to taste with the salt, black pepper, and sugar.
Turn off the heat and let the stew rest for several hours to allow the flavors to develop. Reheat gently, then transfer to warmed shallow bowls. Top each serving with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of cheese.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from food52.com