Eating a high fiber diet during pregnancy may make your child less likely to develop asthma, says a new study by microbiologist and immunologist Dr. Alison Thorburn. According to the study, when fiber is broken down acetate, an anti-inflammatory chemical, is produced and passed to the fetus, making the fetus less likely to develop asthma.

Dr. Thorburn noticed that asthma is less common in cultures with high fiber diets. To test if there was a link, she and her team fed pregnant mice high, normal, and low fiber diets. Once the pregnant mice gave birth, the scientists exposed the babies to an allergen known to cause asthma-like reactions.

The mice babies whose moms had a low fiber diet developed asthma like symptoms. Those whose moms had a high fiber diet did not.

Dr. Thorburn and her team also studied 40 human mothers. They confirmed that 1.) Moms who ate a high fiber diet had more acetate in their blood, and 2.) Moms with more acetate in their blood were less likely to have children with asthma.

High fiber foods include fruits such as raspberries, pears, and apples; vegetables such as artichokes, peas, and broccoli; starches such as whole wheat pasta, bran flakes, and oatmeal; and legumes such as lentils, black beans, and lima beans. In addition to possibly shielding offspring from asthma, high fiber diets are known to help your digestive system function well and help prevent obesity and heart disease.