8 Foods That Scientifically Help Support Your Fatility Health
1. Fatty Fish
Salmon, sardines, and other fatty fish are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in contraception.
“Studies have shown that these fats specifically promote ovulation, which is a key component of fertility,” Swick says. “DHA [docosahexaenoic acid] from fatty fish can increase progesterone, which is one of the most important hormones women need to maintain a pregnancy post-conception.”
Besides salmon, trout, sardines, and other fatty fish, you’ll also find omega-3s in walnuts, flaxseed, grass-fed beef, chia seeds, and more.
2. Healthy Fats
Healthy fats are an important component to any diet, including when you’re trying to conceive, as they provide energy, help us regulate hormones, maintain stable blood sugar levels, absorb important nutrients, and build the membranes that surround and protect our cells.
“When it comes to fertility, it is important that women are eating monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats,” says Sarah Rueven, a registered dietitian and founder of Rooted Wellness. “I recommend including a serving of unsaturated fat (about 2 tbsp), like nuts, seeds, fatty fish, olives or avocados, at every meal for their fertility-boosting benefits.”
3. Full-Fat Dairy
Full-fat dairy is the way to go if you’re trying to get pregnant. Results of a popular study published by researchers from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that women who ate more than two servings of low-fat dairy each day had a higher risk of infertility than women who ate more than one serving of full-fat dairy each day.
“The exact mechanism is unknown but it is believed that when full-fat dairy is processed to low-fat dairy, additives such as whey protein are added to improve the taste,” Rueven explains. “These additives can disrupt hormonal balance and interfere with fertility.”
4. Whole Grains
High-quality, complex carbohydrates such as whole grains are said to boost fertility.
“Complex carbohydrates, like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, are a great source of fiber and are digested more slowly than refined carbohydrates like white bread, white rice, sweets and soda,” Rueven says. “Slower digestion stabilizes blood sugar and increases satiety, which can in turn balance reproductive hormone levels, lead to weight loss (if warranted), and optimize fertility.”
5. Iron-Rich Foods
Iron may lower the risk of ovulatory infertility, says Dara Godfrey, a New York CIty-based registered dietitian. You’ll find iron in foods like lean grass-fed beef, shrimp, organic chicken, fish, and eggs. To boost absorption, pair these iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C.
6. Plant-Based Protein
Plant-based proteins like quinoa, lentils, nuts, beans, and seeds may be helpful to contraception, Rueven says. She points out that you don’t need to eat a completely plant-based diet to reap the benefits of plant-based proteins.
“Plant-based diets are higher in antioxidants, which deactivate free radicals in the body,” Rueven says. “If left active, free radicals can damage sperm and egg cells.”
7. As you’re trying to conceive, it’s important to consume folate-rich foods like citrus, dark leafy greens, sunflower seeds, and lentils. This is one recommendation you definitely want to pay close attention to, as this vitamin is needed to protect your baby from neural tube defects.
Sometimes women assume they can wait until they’re pregnant before making sure their diet is high in folate, but the American Pregnancy Association stresses that it’s important to consume folate as you are trying to conceive. This is because most neural tube defects develop during the first month of pregnancy when many women aren’t yet aware they are pregnant.4 In addition to folate-rich foods, it’s also important to take a prenatal vitamin containing folic acid.
8. High-Fiber Foods
Fiber is a crucial component to a healthy diet, including when you’re trying to conceive. “Estrogen dominance is a state where women have too much estrogen compared to progesterone, which throws off fertility,” Swick says. “By increasing fiber, and thus estrogen elimination, we help to not just establish a healthy weight—a key for fertility, but we can rid the body of extra estrogen through bowel movements.”
Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are all great sources of fiber.