A study has shown that the consumption of extra virgin olive oil increases the phenolic compound levels in breast milk which can cross the placental barrier to the baby.
The results support the existing evidence that extra virgin olive oil-enriched diets can improve or increase the content of these phenolic compounds in breast milk with potential benefits for the health of the baby.
Breast milk is an excellent nutrition source for the baby as it contains essential nutrients and bioactive compounds such as stem cells, microorganisms, antibodies, hormones, etc. It also provides numerous short- and long-term benefits to the mother and the baby, reducing the likelihood of infections for the baby and the risk of being affected by metabolic diseases later on in life.
Extra virgin olive oil is the primary fat source in the Mediterranean diet, and this study discovered that the phenolic compounds of extra virgin olive oil can be found in breast milk and are available to the baby. The researchers made this discovery after assessing the quality and quantity of phenolic compounds and their derivatives in biological samples in a pregnant mouse and its babies following 6 weeks of daily consumption of extra virgin olive oil.
The study results revealed that the phenolic compounds originating from the diet, especially those from extra virgin olive oil, enter the mothers’ systemic circulation. Many phenolic compounds and derivatives in breast milk were also detected. It’s surprisingly significant that some of the phenolic compounds and their metabolites were found in higher concentrations in the plasma of the babies than in the plasma of the mothers.
Several other studies have suggested that breast milk composition can be affected by environmental and biological factors to which the mother is exposed, such as diet. The nutritional interventions while pregnant and breastfeeding can therefore affect the quality of breast milk, and subsequently, the health of the baby. The study results highlight the importance of the mother’s diet while pregnant and lactating.
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