Fertility Foods

January 5, 2014 Nutrition

pregnancyThere are many studies which have shown that nutrition can have an impact on ovulation and a healthy pregnancy. Depending on the foods we choose – the so-called fertility foods – they can protect the egg and sperm from free radicals and give the baby the nutrients he needs for a healthy start. Or, on the contrary, they can harm fertility.

It seems that the food we eat today can impact the health of the egg/sperm within the next 90 days and that many of the anovulation cases can be solved by making changes in the diet. According to a Harvard research, women who made changes in at least five lifestyle factors, including their diet, reduced the risk of infertility caused by ovulatory disorders by more than 80 percent. Among the foods encountered in the diets of the women with the highest fertility scores are more protein from vegetables than from animal sources, more high-fat dairy products, more multivitamins, fiber and iron. On the contrary, the foods which were consumed less frequently are trans fats, sugar from carbohydrates, and low-fat dairy products.

So, the basic guidelines for a fertility diet are many natural ingredients and little or no processed foods at all.

Fertility foods

  1. Fresh fruits which contain a lot of vitamin C and antioxidants – like oranges, lemons, mangoes, cherries – are highly recommended for both men and women who want to become parents. Studies showed that raspberries can improve fertility in men thanks to Vitamin C and magnesium, while reducing the risk of miscarriages. In addition, it’s very important that fruits and vegetables don’t contain harmful pesticides which affect fertility. So, try to buy organic fruits and vegetables whenever possible and remove pesticides when buying conventional products (here is how).
  2. Fish is rich in essential fatty acids which improve blood circulation, sperm quality and help regulate the menstrual cycle in women. Nevertheless, nowadays we should pay attention to the fish we eat as some species (swordfish, ahi tuna) contain mercury and can affect pregnant women who eat it too often. Choose cold water fish instead, such as cod and salmon, but wild salmon and not farmed salmon, which contains antibiotics.
  3. Garlic is recommended to women and men as well, improving blood circulation and helping women who suffer from trombophilia have a healthy pregnancy.
  4. Foods rich in vitamin E, such as baked potatoes and nuts – especially almonds and walnuts , enhance cell division and protect the embryo from miscarriages. In addition, vitamin E improves sperm quality and motility in men.
  5. Foods rich in iron (chicken livers, beef liver, oats, quinoa, brown rice, nuts, lentils, rye bread, peas, red meat) reduce the risk of anaemia which can cause complications during pregnancy. Whole grains are rich in fiber and help the body balance hormones and blood sugar.
  6. Foods rich in folates (peas, lentils, broccoli, red beets, spinach, eggs, oranges, bananas, cabbage) protect the embryo and prevent neural birth defects.
  7. Some dairy products coming from organic, grass-fed animals could boost fertility, while others – like milk and cheese – could have a negative effect on women suffering from Endometriosis. The positive effect of dairy products could be due to the vitamin D it contains, with a role in ovulation and hormonal balance in women. A study conducted at Yale University on infertile women showed that only 7 percent of them had normal vitamin D levels. On the other hand, non-organic dairy usually contains hormones and antibiotics which can increase estrogen levels.
  8. Foods which contain CoQ10 – such as seafood and organ meats, though it is rather difficult to get it from the things we eat. The best way is to obtain CoQ10 from supplements. CoQ10 is necessary to produce energy in body cells.
  9. Foods rich in selenium (liver, salmon, sardines, shrimp, turkey, crimini mushrooms) are very important, as selenium helps to create sperm and protects the eggs and sperm from free radicals. They can cause chromosomal damage – 0ne of the causes of miscarriages.
  10. Foods rich in zinc (oysters, beef, sesame seeds, yogurt, turkey, green peas, pumpkin seeds, lamb, venison) help women maintain the balance of estrogen and progesterone. Low levels of zinc are one of the causes of miscarriage in early stages of a pregnancy, while in infertile men increasing zinc levels improves the quality of sperm.

Foods to avoid

Soy foods seem to have estrogen mimicking properties so it’s best to avoid them. However, fermented soy products such as miso and tempeh are safe to use if you don’t have hypothyroidism.

Refined sugars increase blood sugar levels and can have a negative impact on the immune system.

Some studies showed that caffeine can affect the hormonal balance and increase the risk of miscarriage.

According to other studies, genetically modified foods play an important role in the increase of worldwide infertility rates. Unfortunately, avoiding GMOs is becoming a real challenge nowadays.

As always, try to remember that what we eat is important, but is not everything. Our thoughts are equally important, so focus on the good side of things and cherish the people around you. Good things will certainly come.


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