Important Foods Specifically for Fertility
Take a look at the foods mentioned below and you will begin to notice that all of these foods are nutrient dense, meaning they pack a lot of nutrition per serving. They are also the foods most abundant in the nutrients mentioned in the Fertility Nutrients section of this guide.
Eggs – Vitamin D, B12, Protein
Make sure to find eggs which are farm fresh and have deep orange/yellow yolks. They are worth the extra cost as they provide much more nutrients and are cleaner than the general factory farmed egg. Some of the best places to find quality eggs are at the farmer’s market, neighbors or the health food store.
Nuts and Seeds – Omega 3, Zinc, Vitamin E, Protein
Eat nuts and seeds in their raw form as essential fatty acids and zinc are sensitive to heat and can be destroyed if cooked. I have listed amounts of nuts and seeds and their nutritional density so you can see how packed they are with nutrients.
The best seeds and nuts for omega 3 are:
- Walnuts – 1/4cup = 2,270mg
- Flax seeds – 2 Tbs = 3,510mg
- Hemp seeds – 3Tbs = 3,000mg
- Chia seeds – 1Tbs = 2,300mg
The best seeds and nuts for zinc are:
Pumpkin – 1/4cup = 2.7mg
Sesame – 1/4cup =2.8mg
The best seeds and nuts for vitamin E are:
Sunflower Seeds – 1/4cup = 18.10mg
Almonds – 1/4cup = 8.97mg
The best seeds and nuts for iron are:
Pumpkin seeds – 1/4cup = 5.16mg
Sesame seeds – 1/4cup = 5.24mg
Grass-fed meats – Omega 3, Iron, B12, Protein
Grass-fed meats come from animals which have grazed in grass pasture and eaten fresh grass for most of their life. This meat has less fat and a little bit stronger taste than corn fed meats, but it provides a lot more nutrients because the animals have eaten their natural diet. Grass-fed meats are high in omega 3, have been raised without antibiotics and hormones. Regular grocery store, factory raised meats are higher in omega 6 (we already get too much of this) and have been raised on GMO corn which fattens them up, but is not their natural diet (GMO foods have been linked to infertility). They are also are fed hormones and antibiotics regularly which can impact your hormonal balance and immune system.
Dark leafy Vegetables – Iron, Folic acid, B6, Vitamin E
Dark leafy vegetables are packed with minerals, antioxidants and vitamins essential to healthy fertility. Examples of dark leafy green vegetables are spinach, Swiss chard, kale, and collards.
Fruit – Vitamin C, Flavanoids, Variety of antioxidants
Fruits are the foods highest in antioxidants per serving. Some of the fruits highest in antioxidants are prunes, pomegranates, raisins, blueberries and strawberries. Remember that antioxidants are heat sensitive so to get their benefit eat your fruit fresh, ripe and raw.
Colorful veggies – B6, Vitamin C
The color of a vegetable will tell you what nutrients and benefits it will provide for your body. For instance vegetables that are red or green in color are high in vitamin C. Vegetables that are orange have high vitamin A. White vegetables tend to have sulfur, etc. The easiest way to get a ton of nutrients is to eat a wide variety of vegetables. Make sure you are eating a variety of colors daily. The easiest way to do this is to eat either a salad, stir-fry or fresh vegetable juice daily.
Fish and Shell Fish – Vitamin D, Omega 3, Zinc, Selenium, B12, CoQ10
Fish and shell fish (muscles, clams, etc) are some of the most nutrient dense foods we can eat. Fish provides an abundance of essential fatty acids, vitamin D, zinc, b12, selenium and CoQ10. The catch is that most of these nutrients are heat sensitive so remember this while you are preparing these foods. If you are concerned about the water source of your fish, eat fish from cold waters or you can include a purified cod liver oil supplement into your diet. Try to avoid farmed fish as they will not have the high amounts of omega 3 and have been fed antibiotics.
Liver – Vitamin D, Zinc, Selenium, Iron, Folic acid, B12, CoQ10
Yes, I know. I can hear you saying… “liver!?” Yup. My memories of liver are of my great grandmother sauteing liver on the stove every time I arrived. She was constantly trying to fatten me up with liver and buttermilk… If I only had listened… Liver is one of the most prized and nutrient dense foods available. Across the board liver is very high in vitamin D, zinc, iron, folic acid and B12. For instance just 4oz has over 200% of your daily Folic acid needs. One way that you can make liver tasty it to make pate’ with chicken liver and having this with whole grain crackers 1-2x a week. Make sure to use liver from grass-fed/free-range animals only.
Lentils and other beans – Iron, Folic acid
Before I began studying nutrition I had no idea just how radically nutritious lentils and beans are. Lentils are the second highest source of iron of ALL foods and the second highest source of folic acid (just behind calf’s liver). Just 1 cup of cooked lentils provides 90% of your daily folic acid needs. And if you get sick of lentils, garbanzo and pinto beans follow close behind. Learn to get creative with your beans. You can use them to make soups, hummus, as a side dish, in stir-fry and in brownies.
Raw or cultured dairy – Vitamin D, B12, Zinc
Raw dairy is basically milk products which have not been pasteurized so they still have their important enzymes and delicate nutrients intact. Also raw dairy comes from cows that are grass/pasture fed and do not receive hormones or antibiotics. I don’t have enough space here to go into all the benefits of raw milk and how it is VERY safe to drink, just know that it is a very different food from the milk that is available from grocery stores, even organic milk. I realize that many states do not sell raw milk at the store. If you live in one of those states, you can get raw milk straight from the farmer or you can culture your organic, pasteurized milk you buy from the store to help improve its nutritional profile and digestibility. Milk can be a beneficial food for some on the fertility diet – like those who need an easy source of protein, are underweight and can tolerate milk (I can not tolerate pasteurized milk BUT can drink raw milk with no problem whatsoever). There are some instances where milk should be avoided; instances where there is stagnation in the body like with endometriosis or if you have an allergy to it.
What about grains?
Grains is an area of the Natural Fertility Diet that we suggest you experiment with what works for you. There have been links to infertility in those who have gluten intolerance (celiac disease – you can get tested for this) as well as a possible link to immunological infertility and grains. In some, grains will be a non-issue, but if you have made many changes yet have not seen results, this may be an area for you to look into. Grains and pseudo-grains that are gluten-free (amaranth, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, millet, etc.) are a great option and tend to be more nutrient dense than the general grains we are used to eating.
Foods to Avoid
Sugar, soda & pasteurized juices
Pasteurized juices such as bottled apple juice, orange juice, and other bottled fruit juices contain concentrated sugar, which can throw off your blood sugar levels and negatively effect your immune system and hormonal balance. Also avoid any processed/refined and artificial sugars. Some great alternatives are stevia, honey, and maple syrup.
Studies have shown that caffeine can affect your hormonal balance, increase your chances of a miscarriage and prevent you from ovulating.
Soy foods have been shown to contain estrogen mimicking properties. It is best to avoid processed soy foods such as soy milk, soy burgers, soy protein powder, soy chips, soy meats, and soy cheeses to avoid a negative impact on your hormonal balance. Both men and women are affected by soy.
Genetically Modified foods are becoming a real problem when it comes to fertility, causing an influx in worldwide infertility rates. Since the 1970’s alone, sperm counts among the world’s male population have declined as much as 40-50%, according to some studies. GMO foods may be one of the reasons.
Foods which are altered to be reduced in fat or fat-free are highly processed and high in sugar. When choosing foods always chose the foods as nature intended. Full fat dairy is one example that was shown in a study by Harvard to increase fertility over the fat-reduced options. Again, fat is what our bodies need to produce hormones.