Breastfed babies are eating fried chicken? Well not exactly, but they may be gaining extra body fat if their mom consumes a lot of fried and processed foods that contain trans-fats. A new study suggests that breastfeeding women who consumed high amounts of trans-fats had “fatter” 3-month olds (as opposed to more muscular) than mom’s consuming a healthier diet.
What the research suggests is that a woman who eats more foods like salmon, avocado and olive oil produces breast milk that contains more omega-3, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids, as in the “good” fats. If she eats more fried chicken, red meat and high-fat dairy, her infant will consume more trans and saturated fats, the “bad” fats associated with high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
For moms who wish to improve the quality of their breast milk, try these tips:
- Choose salmon, sardines, white fish, skinless white meat poultry and beans
- Prepare meals with canola, sunflower, olive and nut oils instead of butter
- Limit red meat, fried foods, processed meats, packaged snacks and full-fat dairy products
- Avoid processed foods with words like “partially-hydrogenated” in the ingredient list
It is important to remember that breastfeeding–no matter what a mom eats–is the best form of nutrition for infants and it’s great for mom too. This small, cross-sectional study just reaffirms the connection between mom’s diet and the health of her infant. We applaud exclusive breastfeeding and give an extra high-five to moms who eat more fruits, veggies, fish and whole grains.