A recent trial revealed that rats who were fed antioxidants during pregnancy had offspring that were at a healthy weight, even when they ate high-fat, high-carbohydrate diets, according to researchers at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.
In animals who ate the same unhealthy diets during gestation but without antioxidants, the offspring had higher markers of inflammation and oxidative stress, weighed more and had lower tolerance for sugar than the newborns whose mothers were supplemented with antioxidants.
"This research suggests that if we can prevent inflammation and oxidative stress during pregnancy, we may lower the risk that a child will develop obesity," said lead author Rebecca A. Simmons, M.D.
Antioxidants have been shown to reduce levels of free radicals in the body. These molecules are highly reactive and may cause cell damage. Past research has shown that obesity exacerbates this oxidative stress.
Many foods and drinks are naturally high in antioxidants, such as green tea, grapes, blueberries, red wine and chocolate.
Authors of the study said they plan to examine how oxidative stress may contribute to the accumulation of fat tissue.