Written by: Perri O. Blumberg
Featured on: thebeet.com
Look, loading up on lentils and seaweed won’t magically transform you into a fertility goddess. Fertility is complicated, both partners are involved, and eating a seaweed-rich diet is no replacement for consulting with a reproductive endocrinologist who can run diagnostic tests to determine what may be impacting your ability to conceive.
But that’s not to say what you put into your body can’t make a huge difference, and many times your doctor will tell you to change your diet and nix alcohol before you move to more invasive forms of assisted reproductive technology. Some fertility clinics even have a nutritionist on-staff to help guide women through making such diet changes. “Factors that can impact fertility include age, body weight, smoking status, stress, alcohol consumption, exercise, environmental stressors, and you guessed it… diet!” says Tiffany Ma, RDN. “Although improving one’s fertility health includes this long list of factors, adopting a diet rich in whole foods is a place to start, more specifically, fruits and vegetables,”
What’s more, eating a plant-based diet rich in fruits and vegetables may help you maintain a healthy weight, a key metric contributing to fertility. “Being able to maintain a healthy weight is one of the most significant factors that will determine a couple’s ability to conceive, and diets that are high in fruits and vegetables are associated with decreased risk of weight gain and healthy weights,” she continues. Below, nutritionists reveal their favorite fruits, veggies, and other plant-based foods to enhance fertility.
1. Cooked tomatoes
Vegan pizza or pasta night, dearest parents-to-be! “When tomatoes are cooked, you can more easily absorb the food’s lycopene content,” shares Amy Gorin, MS, RDN, a registered dietitian in the New York City area. “So aim to incorporate foods like tomato sauce and tomato paste into your diet. Research shows that lycopene may be helpful for male fertility.
Looking to conceive? As previously highlighted, turn to sources of iron. “Vegan eaters have to take special care to ensure they are getting in enough iron through plant-based sources,” notes Trista K. Best, MPH, RD, Balance One. “This is also important from a fertility standpoint. Iron [supports] healthy egg production and ovulation and is lost at a significant rate during menstruation.“ Summer’s the perfect time for a daily spinach salad, so don’t delay.
“Seaweed is a powerfood when you’re preparing for pregnancy. Seaweed is rich in iodine, a mineral that is vital for a healthy conception because it is a building block for hormones,” offers Grace Goodwin Dwyer, MS, MA, RD, LDN. “People who eat plant-based diets need to pay particularly close attention to iodine since this nutrient is mostly found in animal foods (like meat, eggs, and dairy). Seaweed is the exception, with some species being as high as 2000% of your daily iodine needs in just one gram.”