Everyone knows that a healthy diet is essential during pregnancy. Stacks of literature have been written on the subject, and OB/ GYN’s are always giving mini-seminars on the importance of nutrition during this special time. But did you know that certain foods can actually increase your odds of conception and others can lower your chances?

There is a growing trend in medicine that recognizes the value of nutrition in enhancing health and several important studies have shown that a diet emphasizing foods containing certain nutrients can truly give fertility a boost.

Here are our top picks for a Fertility Fueled Diet:

  • Order Up Omega 3s: Studies have shown that foods containing the essential fatty acids known as Omega 3’s offer huge health benefits, including enhanced fertility.  What has Omega 3’s in it?
    • Fish But women trying to conceive should steer clear of fish containing elevated levels of mercury, like tuna and swordfish. Safer bets include salmon, trout, shrimp, & sardines.
    • Nuts- There’s Omega 3’s in walnuts, spinach, flaxseeds, & flaxseed oil. Flaxseeds are a wonderful vegetarian option with a high Omega-3 content and can be mixed into smoothies, cereal, or sprinkled on top of sweet potatoes.
    • **Flaxseed oil is readily available in capsule form at your local drugstore or supermarket**
  • Antioxidants: Antioxidants offer a huge advantage to fertility by ensuring the healthy formation of cells in your reproductive organs. A good general rule for including antioxidant-rich foods in your diet is to eat a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables.
    • Blueberries, kale, plums, pomegranates, spinach, oranges, brussel sprouts, & sunflower seeds.
  • Iron: Maintaining a healthy iron level when trying to conceive is another way to promote optimal fertility.
    • Meat & fish
    • Beans, lentils, & asparagus
    •  A recent Harvard study found diets that replaced at least one protein serving with plant-based foods resulted in higher rates of pregnancy.
  • Skip the Skim: Although it is important to maintain a well-balanced diet, new research suggests that full-fat dairy may increase fertility, by promoting healthy ovulation. So… indulge in some ice cream!
  • More Bread Please: Reducing carbohydrates for health was a big trend in recent years, but there’s no need to throw out the whole grain toast. While the refined carbs in white bread don’t do you any favors, the complex carbohydrates found in whole grains contain important fibers that can help regulate the insulin response that is often upset by intake of refined foods and trans fats. Make sure you check the label for 100% whole or multi-grains.

There are also a few things to avoid in your diet that can work against fertility.

Fertility Busters:

  • Trans Fat: These are the bad fats found in fried and processed snack foods. Not only do they make it harder for your body to regulate its overall functions, including fertility, but they are also high in calories.
  • Refined sugar and carbsJust walk down the snack food/cookie aisle in the grocery store to get an idea of foods that fit this category. Too much of these in a diet has been shown to cause a host of health problems, including decreased fertility.
  • Caffeine and alcohol: While the occasional latte or glass of wine won’t slow you down, neither of these boosts it, and overconsumption has been proven to impede healthy conception, as well as being potential causes for miscarriage or other issues.
  • Unhealthy weight: Maintaining a healthy weight is an often-overlooked component to improving fertility. Several studies have shown that being over or underweight can impact a woman’s ability to conceive easily.

It’s exciting to realize that women can have some control over their fertility by altering their diet