A recently published scientific article indicated that there is a higher risk of birth defects in women following low carbohydrate diets. If true, this is worrying because breads and cereals are rich sources of folate in our diet, and without a good supply of folate intake during pregnancy there is a risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida.
For the last 20 years in Australia and New Zealand it is recommended that women planning a pregnancy should take a folic acid supplement. Because many pregnancies are unplanned, bread and cereals made from wheat are fortified with folic acid and are a valuable source of folate in our diet.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines encourage foods from each food group in your diet – this means including breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, meat and meat substitutes and milk. If you are missing a food group from your diet it is a good idea to discuss this with your doctor or see an Accredited Practising Dietitian.
For more information see:
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand – Folic acid/folate and pregnancy
- Science Daily – Low carbohydrate intake to increased risk of birth defects