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Fertility Foods: What to Eat When Trying to Conceive
Trying to get pregnant can be an exciting yet stressful time. Along with tracking your cycle and timing intercourse, eating the right fertility foods can help boost your chances of conceiving. A healthy, balanced diet provides your body with key nutrients needed to support ovulation, hormone production, and egg quality. Here are some of the top fertility foods to add to your preconception diet.
Eggs are rich sources of protein, vitamins, and minerals that can nurture your body and promote fertility. The vitamin D in eggs helps maintain optimal reproductive hormone levels, while the antioxidant vitamin E can protect egg DNA integrity. The choline in eggs also aids in healthy fetal development. Aim for 1-2 eggs per day as part of a varied diet. You can enjoy them boiled, poached, scrambled, or made into a veggie-packed omelet.
Avocados contain healthy monounsaturated fats that help absorb fat-soluble nutrients like vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins support ovulation and reproductive health. Avocados also provide folate, potassium, magnesium, zinc and antioxidants. Add some avocado to your salads, smoothies, or sandwiches a few times per week.
Fatty fish like salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. These essential fats regulate ovulation, increase blood flow to the uterus and aid fetal brain development. Aim to eat 2-3 servings of low mercury fatty fish per week. Salmon is also high in vitamin D, selenium, B vitamins and protein.
Leafy greens like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens and romaine lettuce are rich in folate, a B vitamin that helps prevent neural tube defects in babies. Folate also supports ovulation and hormone regulation. Other fertility boosting nutrients found in leafy greens include vitamin K, iron, potassium, fiber and antioxidants. Add leafy greens to your main meals and snacks regularly.
Orange colored vegetables like sweet potatoes are great sources of beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for menstrual health, embryo development and the production of cervical mucus. Sweet potatoes also contain fiber, vitamin C, magnesium and potassium. Roast them, add to stews and chili, or turn them into nutrient-packed fries.
Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils are excellent plant-based protein sources that can help balance hormones and increase ovulation. They also provide iron, zinc, folate, B vitamins and fiber. Beans are a healthier protein choice compared to red meat. Aim for 1-2 servings of beans, lentils or chickpeas daily, such as in salads, soups, stews, veggie burgers or sides.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds make great high protein, high fiber snacks that promote fertility. Almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and flax seeds contain omega-3s, zinc, vitamin E, selenium and other antioxidants. Chia and hemp seeds provide anti-inflammatory omega-3s and minerals. Nut butters also offer healthy fats, protein and nutrients. Snack on a handful of unsalted nuts and seeds each day.
Choose whole grains like oats, quinoa, brown rice, barley and buckwheat as part of a fertility boosting diet. Whole grains digest more slowly, helping control blood sugar and insulin levels, which influences ovulation. They provide B vitamins, magnesium, selenium, zinc and fiber, without spiking blood sugar. Use whole grains instead of refined versions whenever possible.
Antioxidant rich berries like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries protect egg cells from damage. Their anti-inflammatory benefits also promote fertility overall. Berries are also good sources of vitamin C, which aids conception. Enjoy a bowl of mixed berries 2-3 times per week. You can also top yogurt, oatmeal or salads with fresh or frozen berries.
Healthy fats are essential for fertility and conception. They nourish eggs and form the building blocks for reproductive hormones and prostaglandins. Get your fats from foods like olive oil, nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut oil and fatty fish. Limit intake of processed and hydrogenated fats which can disrupt ovulation.
Proper hydration is crucial when trying to get pregnant. Water helps cervical mucus stay thin and slippery to help sperm travel. Aim for 8-10 glasses of water, herbal tea or broth daily. Limit caffeine and alcohol, as these can deplete the body of water and disrupt your cycle.
Focus on whole foods
Emphasize whole, unprocessed foods as the foundation of your preconception diet. Whole foods offer more nutritional benefits to promote fertility compared to refined, convenience food options. Try to limit added sugars, excess sodium, saturated fats, artificial ingredients and chemicals. Read labels closely and opt for real, natural food whenever possible.
While eating fertility foods is important, having a balanced diet overall provides your body with the best nutritional foundation. Work with your doctor or dietitian to address any nutritional gaps. Deal with stress levels, get regular exercise, and avoid environmental toxins. Combined with timing intercourse to your cycle, a healthy lifestyle maximizes your chances of conceiving naturally. Be patient with your body and seek medical guidance if you don’t get pregnant within 6 months to 1 year.