Foods for fertility

Hoping to make a baby? See these food tips for women and men.

It’s something you may not have considered: What you eat may affect your fertility.

It’s certainly not the only factor. But it still matters. For women, a well-balanced diet may help optimize your ability to conceive. For men, eating better may help you produce healthier, stronger sperm.

5 food-related fertility boosters.

Here’s a look at how both women and men may help prepare for conception with healthy eating:

  1. Eat a rainbow. Now is an especially great time to enjoy a colorful variety of fruits and veggies, including dark leafy greens (#allhailkale). The wider the range of colors, the more nutrients you’ll likely get.

  2. Pump some iron, ladies. For women, iron-rich foods may help promote ovulation. Healthy foods with iron include beans, eggs, lentils, spinach, fortified cereals and whole grains. Add vitamin C from citrus fruits, bell peppers or berries to your meals to enhance iron absorption.

  3. Choose healthy fats. Avocado toast, anyone? Add monounsaturated fats, like avocado and olive oil, to your preconception and prenatal playlists. Go easy on fatty meats and fried foods, as well as trans fat, found mostly in processed products. Check those food labels!

  4. Let dairy deliver. Low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese are packed with calcium, vitamin D, potassium and protein. These crucial nutrients all play a role in keeping your body in primo condition. Nondairy options for calcium include kale, broccoli and fortified orange juice, soymilk and cereals.

    Side note: About a decade ago, landmark research that looked at female nurses led to what’s known as The Fertility Diet. Opens a new windowIt suggests that choosing high-fat dairy options over lower-fat products may reduce the risk of infertility caused by ovulation problems. These foods are higher in saturated fat and calories, so they may not be advised for everyone.

    Talk with your doctor if you have questions about what’s best for you.

  5. Tip the scale in your favor. Being too heavy or thin may affect fertility for women and men. Eating better and getting regular exercise may help you achieve a healthier body weight — and increase your odds of conceiving naturally. That’s a pretty great incentive.

Need some more weight-loss inspiration? Don’t miss our hacks for getting to a healthy weight with fewer trials and more smiles.

To help determine if your weight is in a healthy range, use our body mass index (BMI) calculatorOpens a new window. Be sure to ask your doctor any questions you have about your weight, diet or fertility.

What to do next

Check in with your doctor. Seeing your doctor before you conceive may help increase the chance of a healthy pregnancy. Make the most of your pre-pregnancy checkup with this checklist of possible questions.Opens a new window

Sources: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists; American Society for Reproductive Medicine; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; National Institutes of Health