Pre-Eclampsia Diet

Fact Checked

iWavebreakmedia/iStock/Getty Images

Preeclampsia, a serious medical condition that can occur after the 20th week of pregnancy, causes sudden high blood pressure that can be fatal to mother and baby if left untreated. Even though the only true cure for preeclampsia is delivery of the baby, the risk of acquiring it in pregnancy can be lowered and controlled by maintaining a healthy diet and avoiding certain foods.


According to the Mayo Clinic preeclampsia is a condition that can occur during pregnancy. Symptoms can include a high blood pressure, excess amounts of protein in the urine, vision changes, nausea, painful headaches, dizziness and pain in the upper abdominal area. Swelling of the hands and facial area can also occur during preeclampsia, but this is also a common symptom of pregnancy. If not treated, preeclampsia can be fatal.


The exact cause for preeclampsia is still not fully known. However, certain medical conditions such as diabetes and hypertension can restrict the amount of blood that flows to the placenta. These blood flow alterations can cause high amounts of placental proteins to be released into the blood stream that can result in preeclampsia. Risk factors include obesity, gestational diabetes and a family history of preeclampsia.

Prevention with Diet

According to the Babycenter website eating a calcium rich diet may be able to help reduce the risk of developing preeclampsia during pregnancy. Good sources of calcium include cheese, milk, yogurt, kale, Chinese cabbage, broccoli and foods fortified with calcium such as fruit juice and cereal. Eating foods high in vitamin C and E may also help prevent preeclampsia. These foods include cantaloupe, kiwi, whole grains, cabbage, egg yolks, seeds, sardines, tomatoes and citrus fruits.

Diet Risks

The MedlinePlus website warns that certain foods and beverages should not be included in a diet during pregnancy, especially if there is a history of preeclampsia in the family. Foods and drinks that are processed, contain refined sugars, caffeine or alcohol may contribute to preeclampsia. In addition, having a diet insufficient in vitamin D may increase the chances of preeclampsia, although additional studies are needed before this can be completely confirmed.

Diet Tips

Maintaining an unhealthy diet and carrying excess weight can significantly increase the risks of developing preeclampsia. In fact, the Babycenter website reports that obesity triples the chances of preeclampsia. Unfortunately, dieting is not recommended during pregnancy. Instead, it is best for a pregnant woman to concentrate on healthy foods that will limit her weight gain while still providing nutrition to her unborn baby.