Infertility affects approximately 1 in 8 couples trying to conceive. While there are certainly many reasons why, diet is an important (and often forgotten) piece of the puzzle — not just for women, but men too!
While chatting with a girlfriend over lunch one day, I learned that her husband was eating almonds at every meal in an attempt to, well, let’s just say increase his “potency” after several months without any luck. I thought this dietary regimen was extremely interesting, even more so after I learned she became pregnant shortly thereafter.
So I did a little research!
With that said, I have a disclaimer. I don’t believe that there is one miracle food for ensuring an easy breezy conception (although eating lots of almonds certainly can’t hurt!). I do believe following a nutritious dietary pattern overall is important to help prevent infertility, and is worth investigating and/or discussing with your healthcare provider.
When examining the quality of you and your partner’s “fertility diet,” here are some key foods and nutrients to keep in mind:
The Nurses’ Health Study II, which included more than 200,000 nurses in the United States found that women with dietary patterns rich in healthy, monounsaturated fats had higher “fertility scores.”
Good dietary sources of monounsaturated fat include extra-virgin olive oil, avocados and nuts.
Related: My Road Through Infertility
Full-Fat Dairy Foods:
While the reason is not entirely clear, research has found an association between consuming full-fat dairy products and improved fertility in women. One researcher from the aforementioned Nurses’ Health Study, believes this is likely due to the fact that whole-milk dairy foods still contain the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. Skim-milk dairy products are left with androgens, or male hormones, which may hinder ovulation.
Diets rich in antioxidant-boasting foods are important for blasting free radicals that may be harmful to the reproductive system. Free radicals may affect how viable sperm are by reducing their numbers and their motility. If you or your partner regularly consume alcohol, your need for antioxidants may be even higher!
Foods that are packed full of antioxidants include:
- Citrus fruits
- Red bell peppers
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A study found that fertile men had higher ratios of healthy, omega-3 fatty acids in their blood. Another study found that men who added 75 grams (~3/4 cup) of walnuts per day (a good source of omega-3 fatty acids) to their usual diet, had higher sperm counts, increased sperm mobility and less chromosome abnormalities.
Good dietary sources of Omega-3 fatty acids include walnuts, milled flaxseed, chia seeds, and fatty fish (such as wild salmon).
Vitamin-D rich foods
Research has found that Vitamin D levels are associated with sperm quality (the higher, the better — for both!). In females, adequate Vitamin D levels are essential for making reproductive hormones.
Foods containing Vitamin D include:
- Fortified dairy products
- Egg yolks
- Mushrooms (grown in UV light)
- Fatty fish (tuna, salmon)