The Top 8 Fertility Superfoods
If you are currently trying to get pregnant, you may be wondering just what foods really are the best to feed your fertility. Maybe you’re trying to research your way in finding the best fertility diet, sifting through online articles and finding you are confused with exactly what you should be eating.
Well, I’ve got you covered here in this article with the most important fertility superfoods. These are the foods which pack a punch with the nutrients and the antioxidants your body needs in preparation for pregnancy. They are nutrient-dense, have an abundance of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and other hormone and fertility benefiting ingredients in them. And, they are backed by some compelling research.
Let’s dive in with my top 8 list of fertility superfoods. They all have different reasons why they top my list, so read on and start adding some into your daily regimen.
Pineapple - We’ll start with the queen of fertility superfoods, the pineapple. Pineapple is the universal symbol of warm greetings. Somewhere down the road, pineapple has also become the main symbol of the fertility community. Why? It may be that the word pineapple was originally coined to describe the plentiful reproductive organs of conifer trees. Or, it may be because the pineapple has had to develop a tough exterior, but is sweet on the inside. She also stands upright and proudly wears her crown. All in all, I think the pineapple is a beautiful symbol of fertility.
On a fertility nutrient note, pineapple contains bromelain, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory. If the uterine lining is inflamed, there can be issues with both embryo implantation as well as early miscarriage. So, the use of pineapple as a fertility superfood is especially important for improving uterine receptivity to the embryo.
Berries - Berries, such as blueberries, blackberries, and acai berries score high on what’s called the ORAC scale, which stands for (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). This scale was developed by scientists from the National Institute of Health. The higher a food item is on the ORAC scale the more effective it might be at neutralizing free radical damage in the body and preventing age-related decline in the body. We need foods high in antioxidants like berries to protect our fertility.
Remember those annoying little things called free radicals in our body? Free radicals are those superbouncy (is that a word?) balls that bounce around in our body, listening to speed metal music as they wildly crash about, damaging our bodies wherever they hit. The antioxidants we consume are like little nets which catch the superbouncy balls, put on calming spa music and say, ‘hey, you need to chill out!’
So, we need an adequate amount of antioxidants like berries in the body to stop these crazy speed-metal-loving free radicals from wreaking havoc on our insides and aging our bodies and reproductive organs.
Spices - Our next superfood group is spices such as oregano, cloves, peppermint leaves, rosemary, thyme, cinnamon, and turmeric. These dried spices are all rated as among the highest of all foods on the ORAC scale. They are incredibly high in antioxidants. If you’re not using spices in your cooking already, I encourage you to begin experimenting with more of these in your everyday cooking to pump up your antioxidant consumption.
Cruciferous Vegetables - Vegetables such as cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts and are all part of the cruciferous veggie family. What makes these foods so special is that they contain a compound called DIM, or diindolylmethane, within them. DIM naturally helps the body to detoxify excess estrogen. This compound may sound familiar to you as it is so useful that it is isolated and used as a hormone detoxifying supplement.
In this day and age, with all of the external sources of estrogens from our food and our surroundings (like xenoestrogens from plastics), most women’s bodies tend to be in a state of estrogen dominance. Eating these cruciferous veggies safely and naturally helps the body get rid of this extra estrogen.
Cruciferous veggies are also high in fiber, which additionally helps you get rid of extra hormones like estrogen through your stool. And, the fiber content helps to balance your blood sugar levels, also super important for hormone balance. They definitely are amazing superfoods!
One of the tricks to helping you eat more of these hormone helping veggies is to use riced cauliflower or riced broccoli in your dishes. This is basically raw broccoli or cauliflower chopped into small rice-sized pieces (super easy to do if you own a food processor or blender), which you can then steam or use in a stir fry in lieu of rice. You can now even get frozen riced cauliflower from a grocery store like Trader Joe’s, bypassing that extra preparation step. If you’ve never tried this, you’ll be quite surprised that it works so well as a rice substitute.
Avocado - Our next fertility superfood is the avocado. Avocados are packed with monounsaturated fat, which is a healthy fat that helps hormone balance and decreases inflammation in the body. In 2012, a preliminary study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health found that a diet high in monounsaturated fats from avocado and other foods in the diet were found to triple the chance of IVF success. Eat up those avocados, yum!
Nuts & Seeds - Nuts such as walnuts and Brazil nuts are also amazing sources of nutrients for fertility. Walnuts are a fertility superfood for both men and women. A 2012 study found that when men ate 75 grams (about a half a cup) of walnuts a day, their omega-3 fatty acid levels significantly increased and their sperm morphology and motility also improved. Brazil nuts are high in selenium. Selenium is a major antioxidant and can help reduce damage from free radicals. An adequate amount of selenium is also needed to help build the lining of the uterine wall, helping to build a healthy implantation site for the embryo.
Seeds are also an amazing superfood and include flax, hemp, chia, pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame. Seeds are an important way to get beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, which are building blocks for making hormones in your body, into your diet.
Flaxseeds contain a chemicals called lignans, which talk with your body’s hormone receptor sites to modulate hormones. What this means is that lignans can help your body to increase estrogen when it is low or decrease estrogen if it is to high - they help the body adapt to its hormonal needs.
This ability to adapt is especially helpful with women with PCOS. There was a study which showed flaxseeds raised SHBG (sex hormone binding globulin) when it needed to be increased. A proper level of SHBG is important as it binds to testosterone and estrogen in the body and so can minimize the detrimental effects of excess estrogen and testosterone. This is especially important with PCOS.
Chia seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids and fiber which both benefit hormones and fertility, however they don’t contain the lignans that flax seeds have. But, chia seeds do have a higher fiber content than flax (about 50%), which makes them stand toe-to-toe with flax on their fertility benefits.
Hemp seeds are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids and contain a slightly higher protein content thean flax and chia. Hemp is also rich in GLA (gamma linolenic acid) (a building block for prostaglandins), which helps to control inflammation in the body and is necessary for hormone health. GLA’s have also been shown to be especially helpful for reducing PMS.
In general, nuts and seeds are nutritional superfoods because they pack in plant proteins, zinc, vitamin E, and omega-3 fatty acids - which are all essential for healthy fertility.
One side note with flax seeds - it’s always important to grind them before eating, otherwise the nutrients will not be bioavailable to your body. However, you don’t need necessarily to grind chia, hemp, or other seeds.
Leafy Greens - Dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and chard are packed with fiber, magnesium, Vitamins A/C/K, iron, folate, and calcium - which all support healthy levels of hormones. The high fiber also helps feed the friendly gut bacteria, helping to clear excess estrogen and encourage hormone balance.
Beans - The last, but not least, item on our superfood list is beans. Beans are chock full of iron, folate, calcium, and contain high amounts of protein.
Beans are also a phenomenal way to get adequate protein. Researchers who took data from over 18,000 women in the Nurses Health Study (that were trying to get pregnant) found a big difference between rates of fertility and ingestion of animal vs. plant protein. What they found was that those women with the highest intake of animal protein had a higher incidence of ovulatory infertility (39% more, in fact). On the other hand, women with the highest intake of plant protein were found to have substantially lesser rates of ovulatory infertility. Additionally, they found a 50-percent lower risk of ovulatory infertility when 25 grams of animal protein in the diet was taken out and replaced with 25 grams of plant protein. An example of this would be replacing one 3-ounces chicken breast with a cup of lentils. Simple as that.
If you have been scared off previously from eating too many beans due to bloating and gas, there are many things you can do to curb these unwanted side effect. First, start off slowly with the quantity of beans you eat and let your body slowly get used to the additional fiber. Second, always soak your beans and add something to the pot while you cook to help reduce the gas-producing qualities - like kombu, bay leaves, or epazote. Or, you can always pick up a little bottle of Beano to put directly on your bean dish or take as tabs before eating beans to help curb gas.
Over, the next several weeks, keep this list in your back pocket and eat from one of these fertility superfood groups every day. If you’d like to dive in a little further, aim to have 2 or 3 items from these superfood groups every day. And, if you’d like to earn 1,000 gold stars, eat 5 foods from 5 of these superfood groups in one day. Once you start looking at how you can add more of these items to your daily diet, you’ll see it’s probably a lot easier than you think. Add some berries, spinach and flaxseed to your morning smoothie, bring a snack of seeds or nuts to work with you, and have a burrito bowl with beans and avocado. That’s six different fertility superfoods in just one day!
If you’re interested in reading more about how diet affects your fertility, see here.
Are you a woman trying to naturally get pregnant and looking for help? Book a FREE Fertility Breakthrough call with me here. I’d love to help you get started!
Adlercreutz H, Fotsis T, Bannwart C, et al. Determination of urinary lignans and phytoestrogens metabolites, potential antiestrogens and anticarcinogens, in urine of women on various habitual diets. J Steroid Biochem 1986;25:791-7.
Schottner M, Gansser D, Spiteller G. Lignans from the roots of Urtica dioica and their metabolites bind to human sex hormone binding globulin. Planta Med 1997; 63(6): 529-532