Evidence shows that eating nutritious food and avoiding an unhealthy lifestyle may reduce the risk of infertility by up to 80%, and is vital for healthy conception, pregnancy and your baby’s future health. There are many fertility-boosting vitamins, minerals and macronutrients, essential for both male and female reproduction, and here are just a few of the nutrient packed foods that contain them:
Also check out Best foods to eat while pregnant
1. Sweet potato, which is extremely versatile and can be a good alternative to potato, contains the highest levels of beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body.RELATED: RECOMMENDED PLANS FOR YOU
The corpus luteum which produces progesterone, one of the hormones required for regular menstrual cycle and pregnancy, contains the highest concentration of beta-carotene in the body. Vitamin A is also necessary for male and female sex hormone production and a deficiency may contribute to infertility.
2. Vitamin B6 contained in chickpeas is essential for sex hormone formation. Research suggests that low vitamin B6 levels can decrease the chances of conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy in the early stages. Whilst chickpeas are not the most rock and roll food, they can be added to soups, salads, hotpots and of course are a main ingredient of delicious hummus, which makes a great snack with oatcakes and crudités.
3. Almonds are high in vitamin E, an antioxidant that can reduce free radical damage to sperm, reducing the risk of low sperm count, poor sperm structure and impaired sperm motility. Research has shown that vitamin E supplementation increased sperm’s ability to bind to and penetrate an egg.
4. Mackerel is a great source of vitamin B12 and Omega 3. Evidence suggests that B12 deficiency could contribute to infertility, as well as birth defects and pre-term delivery, whilst Omega 3 is vital for hormone production and regulation.
Fresh mackerel is delicious grilled or how about combining smoked mackerel with orange, beetroot, walnuts and Puy lentils in a yummy salad dressed with Dijon mustard, olive oil and lemon juice?
5. Red peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, which, like vitamin E, helps to prevent sperm damage, and in one particular 1987 study appeared to significantly increase the chance of impregnation.
6. Another oily fish, herring, is one of the highest dietary sources of CoQ10, as well as being rich in Omega 3, and CoQ10 levels in semen directly positively correlate with sperm count and sperm motility. However, herring has been overfished so isn’t as readily available as it once was. If you do find it, make sure it’s from a sustainable source.
7. As well as containing vitamin B6, vitamin E, Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) and zinc, all essential for fertility and healthy conception, sunflower seeds are a great source of L-Arginine, another nutrient which has been found to increase sperm count, quality and motility. Sunflower seeds are great sprinkled on porridge, in salads or can be mixed with pumpkin seeds, nuts, coconut shavings and cacao nibs to make a tasty trail mix.
8. Oysters may be the food of love but they’re also the food of fertility, being incredibly high in zinc. Zinc is vital for menstrual cycle regulation, egg production and semen and testosterone production.
However, if you just can’t swallow the idea of eating oysters, you can find good levels of zinc in beef, poultry and whole grains as well as pumpkin seeds and nuts, which handily are also high in EFAs as well!
9. Quinoa is a pseudo-grain and a complex carbohydrate and has the added benefit of being gluten-free so can be great for most people with gluten sensitivity or coeliac, a condition that can contribute to infertility. Quinoa is a slow-releasing carbohydrate so helps to balance blood sugar. When blood sugar isn’t balanced it can negatively impact sex hormone production and one’s chances of conceiving.
10. Brazil nuts are another good source of EFAs and are one of the best sources of selenium, a fantastic antioxidant which is essential for normal sperm formation and hence fertility. Brazil nuts can be a great alternative ingredient in Pesto or are of course, a fabulously indulgent treat when coated with 85% cocoa-containing dark chocolate! Don’t eat too much of them though!