Refined Grains, Cheese Linked to Hypertensive Disorder During Pregnancy In Hispanic Population


Dietary interventions can reduce the risk of preeclampsia and other hypertensive conditions that occur during pregnancy.

A diet that is high in solid fats, refined grains, and cheese (SRC) was strongly associated with hypertensive disorder and preeclampsia during pregnancy among low-income Hispanic women, according to investigators who published the results of a study in Journal of the American Heart Association. However, a diet rich in vegetables, oils, and fruits (VOF) may reduce risk of preeclampsia.1

“Diet is a modifiable lifestyle factor which provides a potential intervention point during pregnancy,” said Luis E. Maldonado, PhD, MPH, a postdoctoral scholar and research associate in the department of population and public health sciences at the Keck School of Medicine, in apress release. “The combination of foods in the overall diet during pregnancy appear to be related to preeclampsia and this research gives important insight into which food combinations may confer protection or detriment.”2

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Preeclampsia and hypertension are types of hypertensive disorder of pregnancy (HDP) which have been linked to mortality and morbidity in neonates. Previous studies have evaluated the role of diet in HDPs, but there is less research on HDP occurrence in Hispanic pregnant women and possible disparities in preeclempsia.1,2

Investigators with Keck evaluated data on 451 pregnant women in the ongoing Maternal AndDevelopmental Risks from Environmental and Social stressors (MADRES) study to understand whether dietary patterns are linked to HDP occurrence. Investigators looked at the risk of 2 dietary patterns (SRC or VOF) on gestational hypertension, preeclampsia, or any hypertensive disorder of pregnancy.1

During trimester 3 of their pregnancy, participants—primarily low-income, Hispanic, and living in Los Angeles, California—were interviewed twice about dietary patterns over a 24-hour period, and women also answered questions about pre-pregnancy blood pressure disorders and other related factors, such as body mass index (BMI) and age.

The study showed that an SRC dietary pattern increases risk of any HDP (odds ratio [OR], 3.99 [95% CI, 1.44–11.0]; Ptrend=0.014) and preeclampsia (OR, 4.10 [95% CI, 1.25–13.5]; Ptrend=0.036). A diet rich in VOF reduced the likelihood of experiencing preeclampsia (OR, 0.32 [95% CI, 0.10–0.99]; Ptrend=0.041).1

In total, 12.6% of women experienced preeclampsia, but authors note that this cohort included women with more risk factors, including older age (28.9±5.9), higher pre-pregnancy BMI (28.6±6.7), and pre-pregnancy diabetes (6.2%).1 The average rate of preeclampsia occurrence is 6%, which does highlight a disparity among lower-income Hispanic women.2

Investigators also evaluated how well a diet aligned with the Healthy Eating Index 2015 (HEI-15), a measurement of diet quality, observing that there was not a statically significant relationship between a high scoring diet and reduced risk of preeclampsia, except among women with higher pre-pregnancy BMI.2

More research should be conducted to understand good dietary food combinations for preventing preeclampsia, Maldonado said. Overall, “these findings are alarming and underscore the research need to determine factors driving this health disparity and identify effective interventions to prevent it,” said Maldonado in the press release.2


1. Diet linked to preeclampsia among low-income Hispanic women during pregnancy. Kek School of Medicine of University of Southern California. February 27, 2024. Accessed on February 28, 2024.

2. Maldonado LE, Bastain TM, Toledo-Corral CM, et al. Maternal Dietary Patterns During Pregnancy Are Linked to Hypertensive Disorders of Pregnancy Among a Predominantly Low‐Income US Hispanic/Latina Pregnancy Cohort. JAHA. 2024;0:e029848.Doi:10.1161/JAHA.123.029848

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