When it comes to fertility some factors are out of your control, nutrition is not one of them. You have complete control over what you choose to eat and drink, and your choices can affect your fertility. Research shows that a diet filled with fertility-enhancing foods may favorably influence conception.

Eat More Monounsaturated Fats than Trans Fats

Trans fats should be avoided. You’ll find them in processed foods like doughnuts, cookies, pastries and margarine. In fact, replacing two percent of calorie intake with trans fats rather than omega-6 fatty acids was associated with an increase in the risk of ovulatory infertility. Trans fats are thought to disrupt the hormonal pathway.

Eat More Vegetable Protein than Animal Protein

Replacing your intake of animal protein, such as red meat, with vegetable protein may lower your risk of ovulatory infertility. Vegetable protein options include beans, lentils, nuts and seeds.

Eat Carbs Low On the Glycemic Index

Ovulatory infertility may be affected by simple carbs like white bread or pasta, potatoes and sugary drinks. Slowly digested complex carbs high in fiber, on the other hand, may improve fertility. The glycemic index (GI) is a numerical system that ranks carbohydrates on a scale of 0 to 100 according to the effect on blood glucose (sugar) levels. High fiber complex carbs are low on the glycemic index.

Eat High-Fat Dairy Instead of Low-Fat Dairy

A daily serving of full-fat milk, yogurt or ice cream is recommended. It is thought that these high-fat dairy foods may decrease the risk of ovulatory infertility.

Eat High-Iron Foods & Folic Acid

The study indicates that women who ate iron-rich fruits, vegetables or beans and women who took iron supplements were more likely to get pregnant. A folic acid supplement is critical in helping your body make healthy new cells. All women need to get an appropriate amount of folic acid before and during pregnancy to prevent birth defects related to the baby’s brain, heart and spine. Women of childbearing age should get at least 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid daily. (Most standard multivitamins contain 400 mcg.)

These recommendations are based on findings from an 8-year Nurses’ Health Study at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Massachusetts. The women who participated in the study did not have a history of infertility and were trying to become pregnant.

  • The Fertility Diet, Fat, Carbs and the Science of Conception, Jorge Chavarro MD ScD, Walter C. Willett, MD, Dr. P.H., Patrick J. Skerrett, editor of Harvard Health Letter.
  • Chavarro JE, Rich-Edwards JW, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Diet and lifestyle in the prevention of ovulatory disorder infertility. Obstet Gynecol. 2007 Nov;110(5):1050-8.