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8 Dietician-Approved Foods to Support Fertility

person trying to conceive

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Infertility affects 1 out of 8 couples, and while it results from many causes—some being out of your control like genetics and ethnicity—dietary choices may play a role. 

When people are trying to conceive, they are often told what to stop eating and drinking, from foods that are high in trans-fats to alcohol. But there are some additions that can support a fertility-friendly diet. This National Infertility Week, learn about eight foods that have been shown to potentially help people on their quest for parenthood.

Walnuts

Having a daily dose of walnuts may help support male fertility in a variety of ways. According to a study published in Biology of Reproduction, men who ate 75 grams of walnuts (approximately two handfuls) every day for 12 weeks experienced healthier sperm compared to those who didn't.

These subjects followed a Western-style diet, which includes heavily processed and refined foods—meaning that they saw these positive results without completely overhauling their dietary practices. 

Another study found that men who ate 60 grams of a mixture of walnuts, hazelnuts, and almonds resulted in similar positive male-fertility-related outcomes.

And thanks to walnuts’ healthy fats and antioxidants, enjoying these nuts boosts women's overall health too.

Strawberries

Strawberries are packed with beneficial antioxidants and nutrients, including potassium, folate, and fiber. One study showed that eating strawberries may help reduce blood sugar levels and inflammation, especially when consumed within two hours of a meal.

Chronic inflammation can result in an imbalance of key fertility hormones—estrogen and progesterone, acting as a potential blocker to pregnancy. This imbalance can make it difficult for an embryo to implant in the uterus.

Eating fruit, in general, is a positive addition to any fertility-friendly diet since one study found that it can make you get pregnant faster.

Salmon

Fish like salmon offer a slew of positive factors that support fertility, including healthy fats, anti-inflammatory factors, and antioxidants. 

In one study from the Harvard T.H. Chang School of Public Health, after evaluating over 500 couples, researchers found that couples who ate more fish were more likely to conceive, and engaged in more frequent sexual intercourse, than those who ate lower amounts of this food.

When deciding whether you should choose wild versus farmed salmon, know that both are good choices if you have concerns surrounding levels of contaminants. Wild salmon is widely considered to be a “safer” choice, however, recent data published in Environmental Research shows that levels of mercury were higher in wild salmon than in certain farmed salmon varieties.

Full-Fat Greek Yogurt

As long as you are opting for the no-sugar-added variety, full-fat Greek yogurt can be a satisfying addition to a fertility-friendly diet for many reasons. 

First, dairy foods do not cause inflammation, and in some cases, actually, reduce inflammation according to a meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

And for women, opting for full-fat dairy instead of fat-free options may result in a decreased risk of ovulatory infertility. Data from the Nurses’ Health Study II show that consumption of low-fat dairy products was associated with a higher risk of ovulatory infertility than consumption of full-fat dairy products. 

Men should follow the opposite advice and opt for fat-free dairy choices to support their fertility.

It is important to note that this effect is just for ovulatory infertility concerns. Once a couple is exploring assisted reproduction technology (like IVF), the fat content of the dairy choice does not appear to play as much of a role.

Sorghum

Sorghum is a naturally gluten-free whole grain consumed all over the world. Eating whole grains like sorghum may help women on their fertility journey, specifically by increasing the thickness of the endometrial lining, which supports the implantation of an embryo.

For men, increased oxidative stress has been linked to fertility challenges. And since consuming antioxidants has been linked to combating this, choosing foods rich in natural antioxidants, like sorghum, is a positive addition.

Beets

Regardless of whether they are enjoyed roasted, pickled, or canned, beets are one of the best foods you can eat to support your fertility journey.

Women are advised to eat folate-rich foods to help reduce the risk of their baby developing certain birth defects even before they become pregnant. Beets are a natural source of this key nutrient as well as a slew of other pregnancy-friendly ones. 

Along with being chock-full of vitamins and minerals, beets are a natural source of nitric oxide—a molecule that helps the body dilate blood vessels and allows for a healthy blood flow. Data published in Fertility and Sterility shows that when beets are consumed, nutrient-rich blood flow to the uterus is supported, possibly improving embryo implantation.

Cranberries

Enjoying a refreshing glass of cranberry juice or including some cranberries in your diet may help support your fertility journey, especially if you experience Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) infection, since this condition may increase the risk of developing reproductive disorders.

H. pylori infections appear to reduce sperm quality in men, and infected women may have specific antibodies in their cervical mucus against the infection. This may inhibit sperm from reaching the egg, making fertilization a challenge.

Drinking cranberry juice may combat an H. pylori infection. In fact, a clinical trial found consuming cranberry juice reduced H. pylori infection among participants by 20%, but more research is needed.

Olive Oil

Following a Mediterranean-style diet rich in foods like fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, beans, fish, poultry, dairy, and plant-based oils is linked to enhanced fertility and better success when undergoing IVF.

Using olive oil as the main source of fat is the cornerstone of the Mediterranean diet, making it a great dietary pattern for anti-inflammatory effects. So, whether you drizzle it on some veggies or use it as a baking ingredient, including more olive oil may be a positive step for boosting your fertility.

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21 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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