But men are an equally important factor in this equation, so it's good to know what foods men should include that can boost their fertility as well.
Taking steps towards improving your nutrition and lifestyle can have a wonderful effect on your overall health and fertility. Whether or not you follow a plant-based diet or if you include meat, there are some nutritious earthly foods anyone can enjoy if you’re consciously trying to conceive.
Showcasing some important nutrients in both men’s and women’s fertility are avocados, brazil nuts, hemp seeds, pepitas and figs. The healthy mix of essential fats, protein and minerals important for fertility such as zinc and selenium make these foods a good choice for couples.
Fertile Lifestyle Essentials
Taking a holistic diet and lifestyle approach to your fertility is honestly the best way to go. Drawing on what nature has to offer, including meat and plant-sources of all nutrients is an easy way to ensure you’re getting what you need. Here’s some other foods and lifestyle tips to maximise your health and ultimately your fertility that are worth considering.
- Dark-green leafy veggies - ensures adequate folate and B vitamin intake
- Nuts & Seeds - choline, essential fat and fibre
- Quality protein - eggs, fish, seafood, meat and plant sources - ensures essential minerals like iron, iodine, selenium and zinc
- Reduce stress - meditation, yoga and deep breathing
- Daily exercise
- Fresh air, filtered water and nature
Fertile Foods for Every Couple
Silky smooth and very versatile. The avocado has become a mainstay in many modern diets. Full of healthy fats, vitamin E and potassium as well as folate and B vitamins. The avocado is a little green hulk packing a nutrient punch. I love how they go with anything - smoothies, on toast, or with steak, salad and chips! A favourite way to enjoy avocado, especially if you’re not a big fan of it, is in a Green Goddess salad dressing (see recipe below).
For women, avocados can be a great way to ensure you’re getting nutrients that support uterine function and to boost progesterone which helps maintain a healthy pregnancy. The shape and look of an avocado even appears like a pregnant mother with her baby!
A large study of 116,000 women demonstrated higher rates of fertility in association with foods including avocados, nuts, vegetable protein and whole grains. Further research has shown that adequate fibre, monounsaturated fats and beta-carotene found in avocados are important in maternal diets. Avocados are a ‘unique nutrient-rich plant-based food that contain many of the critical nutrients for fetal and infant health and development’. Including these nutrients has favourable outcomes for both the mother, newborn baby and on breastmilk quality. Avocados are a wonderful functional food for women trying to conceive, as well as for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.
Brazil nuts reign supreme for their selenium levels, which is an essential nutrient for reproductive health. Selenium can be low in vegan or vegetarian diets, which means stocking up on Brazil nuts is a good move for plant-based diet followers. Other than Brazil nuts, selenium is found in sunflower seeds, beans and seafood. Read more about brazil nuts and thyroid health here.
Evidence suggests that selenium deficiencies are associated with pregnancy complications and can lead to incomplete development of the foetal nervous system and immune system. Furthermore, selenium deficiency may also cause infertility in men by affecting sperm quality and motility. So it's easy to see how foods high in selenium, such as Brazil nuts can benefit both men and women with fertility.
Hemp Seeds should be a staple in a vegetarian or plant-based diet. They cover almost every major nutrient base. Also known as hemp hearts, they are a magical food, full of protein, omega 3 and fibre and a wealth of other healthful plant compounds. A good source of vitamin E, zinc, iron and calcium as well as being easy to add to any meal, hemp seeds are definitely a fertility-boosting food.
Hemp seeds are also a rich source of gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). GLA supports cells, nervous tissue and organ function as well as supports reproductive hormone function. Hemp seeds are also high in arginine, which supports nitric oxide (NO) synthesis. NO helps promote blood flow to peripheral tissues including reproductive organs, and can support blood vessel function, cardiovascular health and male reproductive function.
Used for centuries in Chinese medicine as a food to build testosterone levels and support fertility. Pepitas are loaded with zinc which is an essential mineral used to convert testosterone into its active form.
In men’s health, testosterone is a steroid hormone that affects muscle tissue, growth and development and reproductive function. In women, testosterone is partly responsible for libido or sexual drive and has a similar anabolic function in muscles. Studies also support pepitas in the treatment and management of urinary tract health.
Figs are also a wonderful fertile food. Figs are an ancient Grecian symbol of growth and prosperity. Their shape and interior provides a clue as to their therapeutic qualities, resembling the approximate size and shape of the testes. In Babylonian mythology, figs were associated with female sexuality and related to creation and Mother Earth.
High in zinc and antioxidants, figs support male reproductive function and promote semen quality. Other than zinc, figs are also rich in iron, folate, manganese, calcium and vitamin B6 which further support reproductive hormone health.
Green Goddess Dressing
- 1 avocado
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or lemon juice
- ½ cup chopped flat parsley
- 1 teaspoon of combined dried thyme, rosemary and basil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup water
- Optional – add tablespoon of mayonnaise or sour cream to thicken
Place all ingredients in a food processor
Process on high speed until smooth
Pour over salad greens, cooked meat, fish or eggs
Refrigerate remaining dressing in a glass jar - lasts up to 3 days
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