Most of us tell our kids to eat lots of fresh fruit to get strong, healthy, and smart. According to a new study, we should be taking that advice ourselves while pregnant. A study published in EBioMedicine showed that eating fruit while pregnant was linked with children’s improved cognitive performance on tests and the more fruit, the better. The study, which included over 800 children in Canada, monitored how much fruit their mothers ate while pregnant, and then performed a development test on their one year-old child. For every portion of fruit eaten per day, test results improved by an average of 2.38%. Pregnant moms who ate six or seven servings of fruit or fruit juice a day had children who had six or seven IQ points higher than typical. In order to rule out certain variables, the researchers compared these results to those of pregnant fruit flies and their offspring. While that comparison sounds a little suspicious, fruit flies and humans actually have 85% of the same genes involved in human brain function. As a side note, we would have loved to be there when the fruit flies were being tested for memory and brain function. The amount of fruit consumed by the kids themselves did not result in any differences in test scores.
These findings should, however, be taken with a grain of salt (pun intended) since gestational diabetes and high birth weight are also linked to increased intake of sugars. Yes, even the naturally occurring sugars in fruit are still sugar, and fruit juices generally don’t even contain the sugar level stabilizing fiber that whole fruit does. The paper’s senior author simply suggests meeting the daily recommended intake of fruit. Previous research has linked mom’s pre-pregnancy diet with changes in the DNA, dad’s diet, lifestyle, and age with baby’s genes, and diet during gestation has some effects as well, so if you or your partner are considering having a child, there’s no better time to start cleaning up your diet and increasing your consumption of fruit and veggies.