When it comes to boosting fertility, unfortunately there is no one magic bullet that works for everyone. Instead, we have to tackle fertility with an integrative approach. In my professional opinion as a registered dietitian, a nutrient-rich healthy fertility diet that nourishes our reproductive organs and our hormones is the foundation food that increases fertility. I always get questions about what to eat when trying to conceive and nutrition advice for pregnancy. Researchers have estimated we make roughly 227 decisions about food every single day. That gives us 227 opportunities to make the best decisions when it comes to our reproductive health and to choose foods that will enhance our fertility, nourish our bodies, and promote healthy pregnancies.
Be flexible in your approach to eating for conception and integrate fresh whole foods.
10 Best Foods to Eat When Trying to Conceive
Below are the 10 best foods I suggest to eat when you are ttc:
Beets contain nitrate, a compound that improves blood flow to the uterus. One of the main causes of infertility and poor IVF outcome is weak uterine artery pulsatility index. This is also know as inadequate blood flow to the uterus, which in turn decreases our endometrial-lining thickness. Healthy blood flow also helps stimulate ovulation, assisting in our chances of successful conception.
Chef Tip: Dice a few raw beets and freeze them to toss into your smoothies for a pop of vibrancy and nutrients.
You either love ‘em or hate ‘em. But after reading why they’re incredible for a healthy fertility diet, I hope you jump on the oyster train. Oysters are one of the best dietary sources of zinc, a powerful anti-inflammatory and hormone regulator. Zinc helps stimulate ovulation by nourishing our ovarian follicles aka good egg quality.
Chef Tip: Not into the raw bar? Bake oysters with a little ghee, coarse salt, and spinach at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes.
Probiotics, we all know they’re great for our gut…but what about fertility? The answer is YES! Dysbiosis (when our gut bacteria are out of whack) can contribute to hormone imbalances. Hormone imbalances like estrogen dominance can shorten our luteal phase. Food and beverages that contain high levels of probiotics, like kombucha, can help balance our gut bugs and improve luteal phase length.
Chef Tip: To get used to the tart and tangy flavor of kombucha, mix a drink up with ½ kombucha and ½ your favorite flavored sparkling water.
Gingerol, the main bioactive compound in ginger, has powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Conditions like PCOS and endometriosis, that greatly affect fertility, are heavily tied to inflammation in the body. Getting more ginger into our diet can help mitigate inflammation and facilitate conception.
Chef Tip: Peel and puree a hunk of ginger root and add it to your next batch of brown rice. Add in a generous splash of full-fat coconut milk, a little lime juice, and a pinch of salt and you won’t be able to stay away from it’s sweet, peppery taste.
Vitamin B6 plays an essential role in the multiplication of cells, making it important for the development of a healthy embryo. The ability of our body to successfully create these cells again and again is what makes a pregnancy possible. Sweet potatoes are a great source of this B vitamin.
Chef Tip: Eat the skin for extra fiber (just make sure to give it a scrub, first)!
Persimmons are packed with ascorbic acid a.k.a. vitamin C. Vitamin C is integral to healthy ovulation and the prevention of luteal phase defect. In other words, ascorbic acid helps trigger the release of the mature egg and sustain progesterone levels during our luteal phase.
Chef Tip: There are two common types of persimmon: Fuyu are the smaller, shorter variety and best eaten raw. The Hachiya are acorn-shaped and great for cooking.
Cod liver oil
Hear me out on this one: cod liver oil is a super concentrated source of vitamin D. Research shows that vitamin D may influence steroidogenesis (the process that turns cholesterol into valuable sex hormones like estrogen and progesterone). It may also improve menstrual cycle regularity. A regular cycle means a better shot at calculating our fertile window correctly.
Chef Tip: Purchase a high-quality brand and knock back a few teaspoons per day. Cheers!
They’re a healthy fat packed with vitamin E, which fertility studies show improves our egg quality health. High-quality eggs are essential to achieving a viable healthy pregnancy. Not only that, low levels of vitamin E intake may be associated with an increase in miscarriage rates.
Chef Tip: Not a fan of raw almonds? Spread raw almond butter on celery sticks, smear on sweet potato or whole grain toast, or swirl into your low-fat dairy yogurt.
Mushrooms contain hefty doses of an essential mineral called selenium. Selenium helps promote the development of mature follicles, nurturing them for a strong, healthy ovulation. Selenium also protects our thyroid, aiding in the conversion of T4 to T3.
Chef Tip: Salt mushrooms at the end of cooking. Salt draws out moisture (which can prevent browning) so we want to save it for the last step so they brown properly.
Don’t skimp on your healthy fats…just the trans fats when it comes to your fertility diet. Dietary fats like ghee are essential for manufacturing our reproductive hormones. Plus, adding fats to our veggie and fruit-heavy meals actually enhances the nutrients we absorb from these foods which better optimizes our fertility.
Chef Tip: Ghee has an even higher smoke point than butter, making it friendly for cooking high-heat items like sauteed leafy greens and veggies and lean proteins.
Fertility Diet Recap
This is not an exhaustive list, so don’t feel like you have to binge on cod liver oil at every meal and snack. Instead, be flexible in your approach to eating for conception and try to integrate these fertility-friendly ideas, along with plenty of other fresh whole foods, into your nutrition routine. A few more healthy foods we recommend if you aren’t a fan of some recommended above: avocado, pumpkin seeds, blueberries, kale, lentils, pomegranates, omega-3 fatty acid filled foods, folic acid and healthy carbs such as brown rice and quinoa. Your baby (and body) will thank you.