As a woman familiar with infertility struggles, this R.D. knows the one thing you can control: fueling your body with these fertility-enhancing foods.
It’s no secret that tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, an important antioxidant that helps rid free radicals from the body. When free radicals are present, they can cause females and males to experience difficulty in nearly every step of the reproductive process. Since male infertility is often not addressed, it’s important to note that recent studies have shown lycopene to be a great nutrient that assists with sperm viability. To incorporate more lycopene into your man’s diet, I recommend trying this Easy Pizza Toast from Sara Haas, R.D.N., L.D.N. By using canned tomatoes like those used in this recipe, you’ll get more bang for your buck!
Protein is an essential macronutrient, important in the body to build and repair tissues, bones, cartilage, hair, skin, and blood, as well as forming enzymes and hormones. Research from the Nurses’ Health Study has revealed that plant-based proteins show some protection against ovulatory infertility compared with animal-based proteins. I’m not saying throw in the towel on those lean beef burgers, but definitely consider swapping them out more frequently for delicious plant-based options. Try this Three Bean Vegetarian Chili from Jessica Fishman Levinson, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.N., of Nutritioulicious. It’s packed full of protein as well as lycopene, making it a stellar fertility-fueling food!
Whole grains provide complex carbohydrates that help regulate your blood sugar. When your diet is high in refined carbohydrates, like those found in white bread, sugary cereals, and sweet treats, your pancreas has to release the hormone insulin to normalize blood sugar levels. Research has shown that high concentrations of blood insulin increase ovulatory infertility in females. To focus on getting more whole grains in my diet, one of my go-to choices is this quick and easy Red Pepper and Spinach Flatbread using a Flatout 100% Harvest Wheat Wrap. It’s convenient and something the whole family can enjoy (yes, many couples suffer from secondary infertility, which means they already have one child at home who needs to be fed). Plus, you can sneak in complex carbohydrates while enjoying a delicious pizza—a win-win!
Did you know that incorporating one or two servings of full-fat dairy products (milk, yogurt, and cottage cheese) may offer protection against ovulatory infertility? Yes, findings from the Nurses’ Health Study have shown that opting for full-fat dairy options while trying to conceive may increase your chances of success. When fat is removed from dairy, it alters the balance of sex hormones that in turn affect your chance of ovulation and conception. It’s important to note that with the full fat come more calories, so be sure to include a varied and balanced diet while making the switch to whole milk. Try this Blood Orange Chia Pudding Parfait from Alex Caspero Lenz, M.A., R.D., C.L.T., of Delish Knowledge.
Besides being low in sodium, calories, and fat (great to add to meat-based dishes to improve their health profile), mushrooms also provide important nutrients like vitamin D and selenium. White mushrooms that have been treated with UV-exposed light actually provide over 100 percent of your daily recommend intake of vitamin D. Recent research shows vitamin D not only improves chances of achieving pregnancy for women undergoing in vitro fertilization, but also improves sperm quality, testosterone concentration, and overall fertility outcomes in males as well. One of the best ways to increase your intakes of mushrooms is by whipping up these Greens & Beans Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms from Emily Cope-Kyle, M.S., R.D.N., of Emily Kyle Nutrition.