Fertility and diet are hot topics, and fertility superfoods are part of that craze. Can eating certain foods boost your fertility? Well, sort of… but not really.
Your overall diet does matter. Researchers have found that unhealthy eating habits can harm fertility. There’s even stronger evidence that your weight impacts your fertility. (Both being under or overweight can cause infertility.) Will a particular food “cure” your infertility? No. That’s not going to happen. But that shouldn’t stop you from considering the so-called fertility superfoods.
Certain nutrients play a vital role in the reproductive system – and what we eat is an important way to get those nutrients. Overall good nutrition leads to good health. Good overall health can (sometimes) protect your fertility.
Here are some examples of food that can help you increase your fertility naturally:
Eat Foods That Are Rich in Antioxidants.
Antioxidants like folate and zinc may improve fertility for both men and women. Antioxidants deactivate the free radicals in your body, which can damage both sperm and egg cells. One study of young, adult men found that eating 75 grams of antioxidant-rich walnuts per day improved sperm quality . Another study that followed 60 couples undergoing in-vitro fertilization found that taking an antioxidant supplement resulted in a 23% greater chance of conception. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains are packed full of beneficial antioxidants like vitamins C and E, folate, beta-carotene and lutein.
Eat more eggs!
Eggs, most especially the yolk are a good source of B-vitamins, which are important for fertility. Omega-3 fats are important for fertility as well, and you can get a boost from the omega-enriched eggs. They cost a little extra but are well worth it if you don’t eat much fish. Another good reason to eat eggs: they are an inexpensive source of lean protein, which has also been found to be good for fertility in men and women. Eggs also contain choline. Choline may reduce the risk of some birth defects. (But not all studies have not found this.)
Have a salmon diet.
Wild-caught salmon – yes, wild caught, not farmed. It is worth spending the extra money for the healthiest variety! Salmon is on just about every superfood list – fertility focused or not. We all need more fish in our diets. Wild-caught salmon is pretty much a perfect pick. You need to be careful about mercury contamination in fish when you’re trying to conceive and once you get pregnant. But wild-caught salmon is on the low end when it comes to toxins.
Salmon is rich in essential fatty acids and omega-3s, which has been shown to be beneficial to fertility in men and women. It’s also a must-have nutrient during pregnancy for healthy fetal growth. So you might as well add it to your menu now, you’ll be eating it for a while! Other important reproductive nutrients found in salmon are vitamin D and selenium. Selenium has been shown to be important for semen healthy, and low vitamin D levels seem to be associated with poor fertility in men and women. In fact, salmon is one of the very best food sources of vitamin D. Just three ounces of smoked salmon will give you 97% of the daily recommended value for vitamin D.
Eat Mature cheeses!
Mature cheeses are high in polyamines. Polyamines are proteins found in plant and animal products. They are also naturally occurring in humans.
Research has found that polyamines may play an important role in the reproductive system. Mature cheese is specifically high in the polyamine putrescine, which may play a role in sperm health. Putrescine is also suspected of improving egg health, especially in women 35 and older. (Yes, if you’re paying attention, that’s the same putrescine benefits that grapefruit juice may have.)
Cooked tomatoes are good for you too!
Cooked tomatoes are high in the nutrient lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Lycopene has been extensively studied for its potential role in improving male fertility. Lycopene supplementation has even been researched as a possible treatment for male infertility. One study found that supplementation of 4 to 8 mg of lycopene per day for 8 to 12 months led to improved semen health and increased pregnancy rates. While both raw and cooked tomatoes contain lycopene, one cup of cooked tomatoes contains almost twice as much lycopene as one cup of raw tomatoes. So when you can, opt for the cooked tomato recipes. But tomatoes in any form are still good for you!
Oysters appear on just about every fertility food list. They are packed with fertility-boosting nutrients!
A serving size of 6 raw oysters contains only 139 calories, but all these important reproductive vitamins and minerals:
- 43% of your daily iron
- 408% of your daily recommended value of vitamin B-12
- 187% of the recommended daily value of selenium
- 188% of your daily zinc
Lentils and beans. (All kinds of beans but especially black beans.)
Beans and lentils are a good source of protein, and research has found that women who get more of their protein from plant-based sources instead of animal sources are less likely to experience ovulation problems. Lentils contain high levels of the polyamine spermidine, which may help sperm fertilize the egg. Interestingly, research has found that spermidine levels are markedly lower in the seminal ejaculate of men experiencing low sperm counts when compared to men with healthier semen.
Lentils and beans are also a good source of folate. Folate (or folic acid) is a very important nutrient for conception and healthy embryos. Beans and lentils are also a good source of fiber. Getting enough fiber in your diet is key to healthy hormonal balance. Consider replacing one or two meat meals with lentil or bean based meals. You can also try throwing some beans into your salad instead of cheese or meat. Eating healthy directly supports your health and wellness while eating poorly reduces your health and wellness. To maximize your health and wellness and ultimately your fertility wellness, there are nutritional items you should avoid to increase your chances of getting pregnant naturally.
Here is a list of things to avoid or at least limit your consumption:
Caffeine – Caffeine reduces calcium absorption, and some research shows that it lowers your fertility by approximately 27%.
Processed Foods – These contain pesticides, artificial hormones, and preservatives, which collectively have a negative impact on your health and wellness.
Red Meat – High consumption of red meat can lead to endometriosis, which can negatively affect your efforts to conceive.
Soy Products – Soy consumption by men has been connected to lower sperm counts.