It’s baby season — August being when more babies are born than any other month. If you’re an expectant mom (or hope to be), then keep in mind that what you eat during pregnancy could affect the future disease risk of your unborn child. In particular, mothers-to-be with the lowest vegetable intakes were significantly more likely to bear children destined for type 1 diabetes. That’s the conclusion of a recent study published in Pediatric Diabetes which analyzed dietary habits of the mothers of the 5,724 children that took part in the study, then compared them with their children’s markers for diabetes, measured with blood tests up to 5 years of age. Expectant moms who ate vegetables a mere three to five times a week, compared to daily consumption, gave birth to kids with an over 70% increased risk of being predisposed to diabetes.

Other research has found that a higher fruit and vegetable intake prior to conception may help to lower a woman’s chances of bearing children with leukemia.Also, getting adequate copper — e.g., shiitake mushrooms, cashews and soybeans — can reduce risk of premature births. Folate intake — e.g., beans, spinach and broccoli — is linked to a lower risk of neural tube defects, while choline — e.g., wheat germ, cod and salmon — can boost baby’s brainpower years down the road. On the other hand, eating too much fat during pregnancy may trigger genetic changes that increase offspring’s obesity risk. Download our pregnancy brochure for complete info.

If you or someone you know is already struggling with diabetes, eat more cruciferous veggies, like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts: All contain sulforaphane, which may protect against some of the free-radical damage caused by elevated blood sugar.Vitamin K from leafy greens may also help reduce insulin resistance, while research suggests eggplant compounds may also help keep blood sugar under control.

Bonus: What would-be-dads eat is also important, and can affect their fertility.Research links a higher intake of veggies and lean protein with better sperm quality.

Published August 1, 2010