In addition to regular exercise and other healthy-living behaviors, eating certain foods can greatly improve your chances of getting pregnant. Packing your (and your partner’s) diet with nutrients like folic acid and vitamin D can help improve the health of your eggs and prepare your body for pregnancy, ensuring the best nine months possible when you do conceive. Try adding these ten fertility superfoods to your pre-conception eating plan today!
1. Salmon Fatty fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help regulate your reproductive hormones and increase blood flow to reproductive organs. Salmon is an especially good source of omega-3s, and it’s easy to cook and put on a salad, or serve with a side of healthy veggies. If you don’t eat fish, flaxseed oil, walnuts, and supplements also contain omega-3s.
2. Raspberries Raspberries are bursting with antioxidants, molecules found in certain vitamins and nutrients that fight free radical damage within your body, and help support your fertility—and your partner’s by protecting his sperm from oxidative stress. Raspberries, and other berries, are also high in vitamin C and folate, both of which are essential to female fertility and early baby development.
3. Quinoa Quinoa is a complex, gluten-free carbohydrate with fertility-boosting folic acid, fiber, and zinc. Unlike refined carbs (think: processed flour, white bread, white rice, and sugary snacks), which can disturb your menstrual cycle and reproductive hormones, the complex carbohydrates found in whole grains, like quinoa, keep blood sugar levels stable and help regulate ovulation. Bonus: Quinoa is known to support baby brain development, too.
4. Oranges Citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, are a rich source of vitamin C, which helps stabilize your ovulation and encourages the release of an egg each month. They’re also rich in folate, a naturally occurring form of folic acid that is known to improve your chances of conception and reduce sperm abnormalities in men. You and your partner should aim to eat over 600mcg of folic acid daily.
5. Olive oil Olive oil is loaded with vitamin E, a nutrient naturally found in the fluid of the follicle that houses your eggs. It also contains healthy monounsaturated fats (the “good” kind) that help increase insulin sensitivity and reduce inflammation, which in turn ups your chances of getting pregnant.
6. Whole milk Studies show regularly consuming high-fat dairy foods decreases the risk of infertility in women, while low-fat dairy products can actually increase this risk. High-fat dairy products have calcium and vitamin D, nutrients that are great for both bones and reproductive health. However, your body needs fat to fully absorb calcium in milk, so it’s important to stock up on “whole” dairy items, rather than “low-fat” or “non-fat.” Which means whole milk lattes and ice cream are totally cool—as long as you stick to ones made from natural ingredients and don’t overindulge.
7. Water Not technically a food, water makes this list because it’s critical to your overall health. Plus, consuming 8 or more glasses a day will also boost your baby-making chances. Water is essential for transporting hormones, and for producing the watery cervical mucus that appears during ovulation and makes it easier for sperm to travel to the egg. Try to drink before you feel thirsty—because by then you’re already dehydrated.
8. Kale Kale, along with its leafy green cousins, like spinach and Swiss chard, is a major fertility booster. Kale is high in folate, iron (which promotes healthy red bloods cells), calcium, and manganese (a mineral recognized to help women get pregnant faster). You’ll also find more than half of your daily vitamin A requirement in just one cup of the green stuff. Be sure to wash vegetables well before eating them, to remove any lingering pesticides used in the growing process.
9. Avocado Loaded with everything from folate and vitamin K, to Omega-3 fatty acids, avocado is a natural fertility booster. There are so many delicious ways to enjoy avocado—spread it on toast, toss it in a salad, serve it with scrambled eggs, make guacamole, and more. Despite being high in calories and fat, it’s okay to have about one avocado daily (as long as you’re keeping track of your overall calorie intake), because they contain healthy kinds of fats.
10. Eggs Packed with protein, vitamins B12 and E, and often enriched with monounsaturated fat, such as DHA, eggs are frequently cited as among the most effective foods for promoting your fertility. If you’re having trouble choosing eggs at the grocery store, look for a dozen that contain DHA or other Omega-3 fatty acids. And don’t toss out the yolk before cooking—that’s where you’ll find most of the fertility-boosting nutrients.
Are you trying to get pregnant? Which of these healthy foods are you planning to eat more often?
Sarah A. Downey is a writer at Ovuline, which makes the Ovia smartphone app to help women conceive faster and have healthier pregnancies. Over 60,000 couples have had babies using Ovia Fertility. Follow Sarah at @SarahADowney.