Fertility-boosting foods: What to fill your plate with while trying to conceive

What you eat plays a large role in fertility.
Written by
Team Kin
Last updated on
May 17, 2024
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What Are the Best Fertility-Boosting Foods? | Kin Fertility
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Several factors influence your fertility, including age, genetics, alcohol, smoking, environmental components and, you guessed it, what you eat.

In fact, a 2007 study that included nearly 19,000 women found that the participants “who followed a combination of five or more lifestyle factors, including changing specific aspects of their diets, experienced more than 80 per cent less relative risk of infertility due to ovulatory disorders compared to women who engaged in none of the factors” [1].

Ovulatory disorders are a common cause of infertility and refer to when ovulation doesn’t occur or occurs on an irregular basis, which is seen in conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) [2]. 

So, what foods should you be eating to help your fertility and which should you avoid? We’ve done some digging and have compiled a guide on everything you need to know about what to eat for your reproductive health.

The importance of variety

Choosing a well-balanced diet filled with essential macronutrients and micronutrients is the best way to prepare your body for a healthy pregnancy.

Macronutrients are the components of food the body needs for energy and to maintain its structures and systems. In order to boost fertility, it is important to focus on all 3 major macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fat.

Micronutrients include things otherwise referred to as vitamins and minerals. We recommend trying to get your micronutrients from good quality food sources versus supplements as the former are more bioavailable (easily absorbed) in their natural form. 

Healthy eating is about variety, texture and incorporating a variety of flavours. There is plenty of opportunity for flexibility based on your personal preferences.

Ensuring your plate of food is as colourful as possible is a great way to ensure that you’re eating a variety of nutrients, vitamins and minerals from the core food groups [3].

How to build a ‘fertility-friendly’ plate

At its core, your diet should consist of fruit and vegetables, including starchy veggies like potato, sweet potato and pumpkin.

Each day, we recommend that you aim for [4]:

  • 2 serves of fruit
  • 5 serves of vegetables
  • 3-6 serves of grains and cereals, such as rice, whole grain bread, quinoa and buckwheat [4]
  • 2 serves of animal and plant-based proteins, such as fish and other seafood rich in fatty acids, chicken, poultry and eggs, lean red meat, tofu, tempeh, beans and legumes
  • 1-2 serves of healthy fats, such as nuts and seeds, olive oil, avocado and coconut products like yoghurt, milk, desiccated coconut and flour

As for what to avoid, limit your intake of processed foods to 1-3 times per week.

According to the study we mentioned before, the participants who obtained the highest fertility diet scores had a lower body mass index (BMI), exercised for longer periods each day and consumed a modified Mediterranean diet. This dietary pattern is rich in plant-based proteins, full-fat dairy products, healthy fats and fibre, and low in trans fats, animal-based protein and low-fat dairy.

These participants also consumed more iron and took a multivitamin daily.

The higher “fertility diet” score and a lower risk for infertility were similar in different subgroups of women regardless of their age or whether or not they had been pregnant in the past, which demonstrates the importance of food when it comes to fertility

On the findings, lead author, Jorge Chavarro explained, “We analysed what happens if you follow one, two, three, four or more different factors.”

They found that women who started following more of these recommendations reduced their risk of infertility, for every one of the dietary and lifestyle strategies undertaken.

Chavarro explained that they found “a sixfold difference in ovulatory infertility risk between women following five or more low-risk dietary and lifestyle habits and those following none.”

So, what is the best fertility diet?

There isn’t currently one way of eating that is deemed the official “fertility diet”, but the Mediterranean diet comes pretty close. 

In fact, research from 2018 that looked at how the Mediterranean diet impacted women undergoing IVF found that following this style of eating “may help increase the chances of a successful pregnancy and delivering a live baby for women undergoing IVF treatment” [5].

While there isn’t currently any concrete evidence that labels the Mediterranean diet as the best way to eat for female fertility, a lot of the research is promising. 

And, other studies have lauded the diet for its ability to reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and overall mortality [6]. The balance of macro and micronutrients from this way of eating also helps to keep your blood sugar levels under control, helps with cognitive function as you age and keeps you feeling satiated due to the focus on healthy fats.

The foundations of the Mediterranean diet are built on a high consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and plant-based proteins such as beans and legumes. A large emphasis is placed on healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and oily fish like salmon and sardines.

Fish is the preferred source of animal protein, with other animal proteins like poultry, eggs and dairy to be eaten in smaller quantities daily, or limited to a few times per week.

Processed foods, red meat and alcohol are occasional inclusions. Moderation is key when it comes to food, so you don’t have to follow this style of eating to the letter.

But, if you have been trying to get pregnant for a while and are keen to switch things up food-wise, adding Mediterranean-style foods to your plate can make a big difference to your energy, health and inflammation levels.

What is "The Clean 15" and "The Dirty Dozen"?

Another thing to consider when discussing fertility foods is to be aware of “The Clean 15” and “The Dirty Dozen”. 

The experts at the nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) release an annual “Dirty Dozen” list that is made up of the foods they say contain elevated levels of pesticides that could be concerning, while the “Clean 15” lists are made up of foods that contain the least amount of pesticides. 

While it’s good to know this information, don’t let it colour your food choices too much. If you can only get your hands on tomatoes from the grocery store versus tomatoes grown organically, it’s better to eat a dish with veggies than forgo the nutrients as they are on the Dirty Dozen list.

The most up-to-date information from the EWG is from 2021 and is as follows: 

The Dirty Dozen

  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Kale, collard and mustard green
  • Nectarines 
  • Apples
  • Grapes
  • Cherries
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Capsicums
  • Celery 
  • Tomatoes

The Clean 15

  • Avocados
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapple
  • Onions
  • Papaya
  • Sweet peas (frozen)
  • Eggplant
  • Asparagus
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Kiwi
  • Cauliflower
  • Mushrooms
  • Honeydew melon
  • Cantaloupes 

Should you take any supplements?

A good prenatal vitamin can be the perfect complement to the fertility-boosting foods we mentioned before — in fact, experts recommend you start taking one at least 3 months before you start trying to get pregnant [7].

Kin's Prenatal Vitamin is formulated with highly bioavailable ingredients that your body can use and absorb to help increase fertility. Plus, it boosts your immune system, supports thyroid health and energy production, and helps prevent constipation.

It contains 12 high-quality ingredients to give your baby the best possible start and maintain your health through your entire pregnancy journey, including omega-3, biotin, zinc, vitamin B12, iron, and methylated folate (instead of folic acid, which not every body is able to absorb).

Is there a good diet for male fertility?

Female fertility is only one part of the equation — so the question is, what foods support male fertility?

According to research, a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, fish and low-fat dairy products leads to higher-quality semen [8]. Antioxidant-rich foods can also help, as they can minimise the oxidative damage that sperm is vulnerable to — we recommend looking for foods with selenium, folate, zinc, CoQ10 and vitamin C is a good idea.

Plus, just like with female fertility, a daily vitamin can also be helpful. Kin's Male Prenatal promotes sperm health, while reducing free radicals and damage, supporting sperm motility and energy, and supporting testosterone health.

The takeaway

The fertility journey can be filled with ups and downs and you can only do what you can do, so try to keep that in mind when it comes to the foods you eat. 

When constructing your plates of food each day, try to incorporate several different coloured veggies, some starchy carbs like sweet potato, potato, pumpkin or rice, as well as a sprinkle of healthy fats like avocado or olive oil and some protein like chicken or steaks, fish or eggs.

For snacks, try to reach for fruit with a small handful of nuts and/or seeds, a tin of tuna, salmon or sardines or a boiled egg.

Getting pregnant should be an exciting time, but it can often be confusing and stressful. Developed by fertility specialists, our Conception Checklist is tailored to your stage and lifestyle and is designed to take the stress out of planning for a family, so that you can enjoy the journey rather than get lost in it.

All of the tools you need to take your reproductive health into your own hands.