Omega-3 fatty acids such as DHA and EPA provide a variety of health benefits for expectant mothers, including promoting healthy brain and eye development in their babies. The problem, say researchers in Canada, is that women who are pregnant and nursing simply aren’t eating enough of these healthy fats.
Using data from the long-term Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition (APRON) study, scientists from the University of Alberta and the University of Calgary were able to determine recently that less than 30 percent of pregnant women and only a quarter of new mothers are consuming the daily amount of Omega-3s recommended by leading health experts—typically at least 500 mg total Omega-3 fats, including at least 200 mg of DHA.
The ongoing study involves more than 2,000 women and centers on the relationship between maternal nutrition and healthy child development. For this particular research, scientists focused on just under a third of the participants and found that regardless of income, location, and other factors, the majority of women failed to get enough beneficial Omega-3s in their diets. When they did consume the beneficial fats, they came mostly from seafood—salmon in particular.
Interestingly, pregnant and nursing women who reported taking a DHA fish oil supplement were up to 11 percent more likely to meet the daily Omega-3 recommendations. Researchers hope the results of the study, published in the journal Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism, will increase awareness about the benefits of Omega-3s during and after pregnancy.
Most parents today know that sugary soft drinks and diet sodas are unhealthy for kids and should be avoided, but results of a new study from the University of Connecticut tell us moms and dads may be offering up an equally unhealthy alternative: fruit juices, sports drinks, and flavored waters that are still loaded with harmful sugar.
“The labeling and marketing for these products imply that they are nutritious, and these misperceptions may explain why so many parents buy them,” study author Jennifer Harris told USA Today. She may be right on the money, especially since parents are inundated with labels that claim products are “low in calories” or contain “real fruit juice” and “essential nutrients,” suggesting they are a healthy option for kids.
According to the results of the study, 96% of parents surveyed said they had given their children—some as young as two years old—sugary drinks in the past month. The most popular beverages were regular soft drinks and fruit drinks, but sports drinks, sweetened ice tea, and flavored water were not far behind. What’s more, nearly 50% of parents involved in the study said they believed flavored waters were “healthy,” and more than 25% believed the same about fruit drinks and sports drinks.
Study author Marlene Schwartz believes it all comes down to product packaging—and that we need to be stricter about ingredient claims so parents are accurately informed about what their children are really putting in their bodies. At the end of the day, the healthiest choice for kids (and adults!) is fresh, purified water.