If trying to conceive is a struggle, or if you suffer from some form of infertility or another, or if you are simply planning to get pregnant, you might want to take a closer look at the foods you aren’t eating.
Here we list 10 fertility superfoods that could better your chances to conceive. We are constantly learning more about the healing power of these foods and their effect on both the male and female reproductive system.
This Peruvian food is a staple part of a women’s diet in Peru. This food contains an extremely high concentrate of carbohydrates (around 60%) making it an excellent source of energy. Maca is also rich in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fibre, and essential fatty acids. Most of the research behind Maca has found it helps balances hormones as well as enhances libido. In females they found it increased egg follicle development and in males increased sperm count and motility rates. It is recommended that you take Maca regularly to obtain desired results (500-3000mg/day).
The Walnut is the king of all nuts when it comes to fertility. Not only do they contain the all-important Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids, research states that a handful of walnuts daily was linked to increased sperm vitality, motility and morphology (how healthy and fast sperm are and whether they are of normal shape). In women the Omega-3 supports healthy fertility by helping to regulate hormones, increases cervical mucous production, promotes ovulation and improves the quality of the uterus by increasing the blood flow to the reproductive organs. It also helps to reduce the inflammatory response, thereby aiding fertility issues such as endometriosis, PCOS, and uterine fibroids. Eat them raw or crunch them up and add them to your favourite salad.
Almonds are full of healthy oils. They are an especially good source of monounsaturated fats, which appear to increase a woman’s chances of falling pregnant. They are a rich source of Vitamin E and contain important reproductive system nutrients such as zinc and L-arginine. Almonds are also thought to improve a man’s sperm count and quality.
Oysters are a treat, and when it comes to this seafood we should be treating ourselves on a weekly basis. Oysters are loaded with zinc which is found in abundance in the male reproductive organs. They also found that zinc helps maintain optimum sperm counts by lowering excessive amounts of oestrogen. Did you know men loose approximately 2.5g of Zinc per ejaculation? Therefore it is essential for men to keep their Zinc levels up to avoid deficiency. Zinc is also important for female reproductive health though it is safer to find it in other sources as shellfish should be avoided during pregnancy.
Lycopene is the key nutrient that gives tomatoes their bright red colour and have been found to boost fertility in men by increasing sperm count by up to 70 per cent. They discovered that lycopene improved sperm count, morphology and motility (structure and speed). Other studies found the nutrient reduced diseases of the prostate and may slow down or even halt the progress of prostate cancer though more research is warranted. Sun dried tomatoes contains the highest amount of lycopene with 45902ug per 100g with cooked tomatoes only containing 3041ug per 100g.
This fresh water algae is the highest source of chlorophyll of any known plant and is often referred to as plant blood. The structure of the chlorophyll molecule is very similar to haemoglobin in our blood making it very good for our blood cells. Chlorella is best known for drawing out heavy metals and other toxic chemicals from the body, which affect reproductive health. For this reason Chlorella is not recommended for women during pregnancy due to its strong detoxification properties but highly recommended as part of your preconception plan. Chlorella is packed full of protein, carbohydrates, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, fibre, antioxidants and essential fatty acids, putting the super in superfood.
Wild caught oily fish are a major source of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA and EPA. The presence of these fatty acids are essential for healthy sperm as their presence ensures sperm are kept fluid and flexible and improves the cell membrane, which in turn improves fertility. In men DHA seems to be the most important as sperm motility is strongly connected to sperm membrane DHA levels. Women are highly recommended to consume a diet high in essential fatty acids (EFA’s), with omega-3 improving the quality of the cell membrane once again. Omega-3 is essential for the baby’s brain development and eye development during the first few weeks of pregnancy. As most women are unaware they are pregnant at those early stages it is best to be safe and stock up on your omega-3 fatty acids as part of your preconception care. Studies recommend 2-3 serves of fish a week, avoiding the large fish such as shark, swordfish, king mackerel as they contain higher levels of mercury. The best fish to eat are oily wild caught fish such as sardines, anchovies, mackerel, and salmon (be mindful of eating too much tuna as most of it is farmed).
This super food is bursting with folic acid which is essential for boosting fertility in both men and women. Folic acid is important for increasing sperm counts in men and optimising womb conditions for sperm survival in women. It is highly recommended for any expecting women as it reduces the risk of miscarriage and birth defects. This wonderful vegetable is also packed with a phytonutrient called di-indolylmethane, which has been found to help women absorb balanced levels of the hormone oestrogen. It has been found to binds to environmental oestrogens, such as pesticides and hormones found in meat and dairy products, as well as rid the body of excess hormones, boosting fertility. In the UK they found an increased rate of fertility around Christmas time. Researchers believe that an increased consumption of Brussel sprouts at this time, may have something to do with it. Who would have thought that Brussel sprouts could be sexy!
Most women out there must be jumping for joy when chocolate winds up on a top ten list for improving their ability to conceive. But don’t be fooled into thinking a block of Cadbury will do the job. We are talking good quality dark chocolate, and 2 squares per day is plenty enough. Dark chocolate that contains 70% cocoa content or higher can actually be good for your fertility by elevating mood and increasing the blood flow to female reproductive organs. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids and antioxidants which help fight off cell damaging free radicals as well as arginine which is important as it helps maintain a healthy immune system and hormone function. Chocolate is also rich in magnesium (our calming mineral) which may be why women crave chocolate when they pre-menstrual.
These nutritional powerhouses should be consumed on a daily basis to improve your ability to conceive. Not only are they packed with minerals, vitamins, essential fatty acids, protein and carbohydrates they are a fantastic source of vitamin E. Vitamin E has been shown to be beneficial in improving endometrial lining (the lining of the uterus). They can also help with embryo implantation (how a fertilised egg becomes a pregnancy). Avocados are also beneficial for male fertility as the high amounts of vitamin E helps the sperm penetrate the egg and speeds up their motility (speed). Insufficient amounts of Vitamin E has been found to adhere the production of vital sex hormones that are important for sperm production. This super food is also an excellent source of folate which can help prevent birth defects such as spina bifida, so add at least ½ an avocado to your daily diet.