Fertility Foods to Boost Your Odds of Conception + Recipes!

Fertility Foods to Boost Your Odds of Conception + Recipes!

Two pomegranates, a fruit that may be considered a fertility superfood
Adding fertility foods to your diet won't "cure" infertility, but they may (big maybe) improve your odds for pregnancy success. Danielle Donders/Moment Open/Getty Images

Fertility and diet are hot topics, and fertility superfoods are part of that craze. Can eating certain foods boost your fertility?

Well, sort of... but not really.

Here’s the thing: your overall diet does matter. Researchers have found that unhealthy eating habits can harm fertility. There’s even stronger evidence that your weight impacts your fertility. (Both being under or overweight can cause infertility.)

Will a particular food “cure” your infertility? No. That’s not going to happen.​ But that shouldn’t stop you from considering the so-called fertility superfoods.

Here’s why:

Certain nutrients play a vital role in the reproductive system – and what we eat is an important way to get those nutrients.

Eating nutrient rich foods is usually safer than concentrated supplements. The exception to this is with folic acid  -- most doctors recommend taking a folic acid supplement when you’re trying to conceive.

Since many fertility superfoods contain nutrients that are important to fertility health, that’s a good enough reason to add them to your diet.

Some research has connected particular foods to fertility health.  I know I just said that fertility foods won’t cure your infertility – and they won’t.

However, there have been studies looking at what people eat (and don’t eat) and how it relates to fertility.

Some of the fertility superfoods on this list fall into that category.

Overall good nutrition leads to good health. Good overall health can (sometimes) protect your fertility.

Now, if you’re eating burgers and French fries all day, and then throwing in some grapefruit juice to “counteract” the burger and fries… that’s not going to help. (Sorry.)

On the other hand, if you try to eat as many nutrient rich foods as possible (and those would be superfoods), you may very well protect or even improve your fertility (in some cases).​ Especially if the healthy foods replace the unhealthy aspects of your diet, and especially if replacing the unhealthy foods helps you maintain or get to a healthy weight.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s check out 15 fertility foods.

Sunflower Seeds and Sunflower Seed Butter for Fertility

Sunflower seeds beside a sunflower and a glass jar of sunflower oil, a fertility superfood
Sunflower seeds are rich in vitamin-E, making them an excellent fertility booster for men.. lacaosa / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?

Sunflower seed kernels, roasted without salt . Not into sunflower seeds? Consider some sunflower seed butter!

Why It May Boost Fertility

Sunflower seeds are an excellent source of vitamin E.  Supplementation with vitamin E has been shown to boost male fertility. Specifically, it’s been shown to boost sperm motility, improve sperm counts, and improve DNA fragmentation.

Sunflowers are also a great source of many other fertility friendly nutrients.  One ounce will give you:

  • 49% of the recommended daily value of vitamin E
  • 16% of your daily folate needs
  • 31% of your daily recommended value of selenium
  • 10% of your daily recommended value of zinc

Sunflower seeds are also a good source of the fatty acids omega 3 and 6.

How to Get More in Your Diet

Here are some ways to eat more sunflower seeds:

  • Sprinkle sunflower seeds on your salad instead of croutons.
  • Try using sunflower seed butter instead of peanut butter. Sunbutter is a popular brand.
  • Put 2 TBS of sunflower seed butter into a smoothie as a source of protein.
  • How to Get More Nuts into Your Diet

Fresh Grapefruit and Orange Juice for Fertility

Slices of pink grapefruit
Freshly squeezed grapefruit and orange juice contain fertility friendly nutrients.. Imstepf Studios Llc / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?

Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and orange juice.

Why It May Boost Fertility

Grapefruit juice and orange juice are very high in the polyamine putrescine, which may improve semen health. Putrescine may also improve egg health. In one study, older female rats were given water rich in putrescine in the time just before and up to ovulation. The rate of chromosomal defects in the ovulated eggs decreased by more than 50%... ! It may be that putrescine helps both egg and sperm cells maintain their chromosomal integrity.

The boost in vitamin C from these juices may also help. Low vitamin C levels may negatively affect female hormonal balance.

How to Get More in Your Diet

Caution: Grapefruit juice is known to increase the effects of some medications, in some cases to dangerous levels. If you’re taking any kind of medication, speak to your doctor about whether grapefruit juice is safe for you.

Getting more into your diet:

  • Make smoothies with orange or grapefruit juice as a base
  • Add grapefruit or orange slices to salads
  • Squeeze your own orange juice

Eat Mature Cheeses for Fertility

Parmasean crips with cherry tomatoes, basil, and sea salt
Watch portion sizes and calories when indulging in cheese -- but go ahead, indulge a little for your fertility.. Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?

Mature cheeses, like mature cheddar, parmesan, and manchego.

Why It May Boost Fertility

Mature cheese are high in polyamines. Polyamines are proteins found in plant and animal products. They are also naturally occurring in humans.

Research has found that polyamines may play an important role in the reproductive system. Mature cheese is specifically high in the polyamine putrescine, which may play a role in sperm health. Putrescine is also suspected of improving egg health, especially in women 35 and older. (Yes, if you're paying attention, that's the same putrescine benefits that grapefruit juice may have.)

How to Get More in Your Diet

Be careful with portion control when adding cheese to your diet! A small amount packs in a lot of calories and saturated fat. ​So enjoy... just within reason.

Possible recipes to consider:

Full Fat Yogurt and Ice Cream for Fertility

Two small scooped of ice cream with a strawberry -- fertility friendly food
Choose the full fat variety of ice cream when you treat yourself -- just don't over do it.. 4kodiak / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?

Full fat dairy products, like whole milk, full fat yogurt, ice cream, cream cheese, and other cheese.

Why It May Boost Fertility

A Harvard study found that women who ate full fat dairy products were less likely to experience ovulation problems than women who ate primarily low fat dairy products.  In this study, low fat dairy products included skim or low fat milk, sherbet, yogurt, and cottage cheese. Full fat products included whole milk, ice cream, cream cheese, and other cheese.

How to Get More in Your Diet

The easiest way to get a serving a full fat dairy into your diet is to switch to whole milk instead of low fat milk. (Easy only if you already have milk in your morning tea or cereal.)

Or, if you’re a yogurt kind of gal, switch to full fat yogurt instead of the low fat varieties.

An occasional serving of full fat ice cream can make a nice treat. Just be sure to take into account the extra calories in your diet.  If you’re going for ice cream, limit yourself to one to two servings per week.

Remember that being overweight can negatively affect fertility, so you don’t want to overdo it here.

Eat More Cow Liver for a Fertility Boost

Calves' liver with sage, caper and sherry sauce
Cow's liver is a fertility superfood -- think beyond chopped liver.. WilliamShaw / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?

Liver, most especially from cow.  (Other organ meats may have similar health benefits.)

Why It May Boost Fertility

Cow liver is high in many nutrients that are vital to reproductive health.

One serving of cow liver (68 grams) contains:

  • 431% of the daily value of vitamin A
  • 800% of the recommended value of vitamin B12
  • 137% of your daily value of riboflavin, another important B vitamin
  • 43% of your daily value of folate (the naturally occurring form of folic acid)
  • 35% of your daily value of selenium
  • 290 mg of choline (Choline may reduce the risk of birth defects.)
  • 24% of your daily value of zinc, a mineral important for semen health
  • Naturally high in coenzyme Q10, which may boost egg quality and sperm motility

Cooked Tomatoes for Fertility

Bowl of tomato soup next to cherry tomatoes on the vine
Enjoy! Tomato soup is both a comfort food and a fertility food.. Salima Senyavskaya / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?

Cooked tomatoes, like you might have in tomato sauce or tomato soup.

Why It May Boost Fertility

Cooked tomatoes are high in the nutrient lycopene, a powerful antioxidant.

Lycopene has been extensively studied for its potential role in improving male fertility. Lycopene supplementation has even been researched as a possible treatment for male infertility.   One study found that supplementation of 4 to 8 mg of lycopene per day for 8 to 12 months led to improved semen health and increased pregnancy rates.

How to Get More in Your Diet

While both raw and cooked tomatoes contain lycopene, one cup of cooked tomatoes contains almost twice as much lycopene as one cup of raw tomatoes.

So when you can, opt for the cooked tomato recipes. But tomatoes in any form are still good for you!

Here are some recipes to try:

Lentils and Beans for Fertility

A variety of different beans and legumes
Beans and lentils make a good source of fiber and plant based proteins -- both good for your fertility.. Heather Down / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?

Lentils and beans. (All kinds of beans but especially black beans.)

Why It May Boost Fertility

Beans and lentils are a good source of protein, and research has found that women who get more of their protein from plant-based sources instead of animal sources are less likely to experience ovulation problems.

Lentils contain high levels of the polyamine spermidine, which may help sperm fertilize the egg.

Interestingly, research has found that spermidine levels are markedly lower in the seminal ejaculate of men experiencing low sperm counts when compared to men with healthier semen.

Lentils and beans are also a good source of folate. Folate (or folic acid) is a very important nutrient for conception and healthy embryos.

Beans and lentils are also a good source of fiber. Getting enough fiber in your diet is key to healthy hormonal balance.

How to Get More in Your Diet

Consider replacing one or two meat meals with lentil or bean based meals. You can also try throwing some beans into your salad instead of cheese or meat.

Here are some recipes to try:

Asparagus for Fertility

Asparagus in a basket with other green vegetables
Asparagus is a nutrient packed green and should be part of your trying to conceive diet.. Tom Merton / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?

Cooked asparagus.

Why It May Boost Fertility

Asparagus is a nutrient packed superfood. It’s low calorie, will fill you up, and gives you a boost of fertility vital nutrients.

One cup of boiled asparagus will get you:

  • Just over 60% of your daily value of folate
  • Your full daily value of vitamin K
  • 8% of your daily zinc and 16% of your daily recommended amount of selenium, both important for male fertility
  • Over 20% of other essential nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, and the B vitamin thiamin.

How to Get More in Your Diet

Avoid canned asparagus that is full of salt. Reach for fresh or frozen. If you want to go canned, look for low sodium options.

Recipes to try:

Oysters for Fertility

Woman being fed an oyster by a man
Oysters have a long history as aphrodiasiacs... and their nutrients may boost your fertility.. Eric Raptosh Photography / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?


Why It May Boost Fertility

Oysters appear on just about every fertility food list. They are packed with fertility boosting nutrients!

A serving size of 6 raw oysters contains only 139 calories, but all these important reproductive vitamins and minerals:

  • 43% of your daily iron
  • 408% of your daily recommended value of vitamin B-12
  • 187% of the recommended daily value of selenium
  • 188% of your daily zinc

How to Get More in Your Diet

Many people feel intimidated by oyster preparation, but you don’t have to be. You can prepare and serve this dish at home.

The healthiest option is raw, but not everyone can stomach the idea of raw oysters

Pomegranate for Fertility

Pomegranate fruit with seeds with glasses of pomegranate juice in glasses
Pomegranate juice may give your fertility a boost.. Ulrich Kerth / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?

Pomegranate seeds and juice, most especially the juice.

Why It May Boost Fertility

Pomegranates have long been associated with fertility and birth due to their many seeds. This is not a scientific reason to indulge in pomegranates... but still an interesting one!

As for science, pomegranate is high in antioxidants, which may boost male fertility.​ Most research on pomegranates and fertility has taken place in rats. Studies have found that pomegranate juice and pomegranate extract may improve sperm concentration and motility after several weeks.

One study has looked at the effect in humans.​ Seventy adult men who didn’t have healthy enough sperm to donate to a sperm bank – but were not suffering from low sperm count – took tablets containing pomegranate fruit extract and powder of Galanga Root.

After three months of treatment, sperm motility improved by 60%.

How to Get More in Your Diet

Walnuts for Fertility

Pile of walnuts, with a split open walnut in the middle with heart shape
Walnuts may actually be good for your, eh, nuts.. Dragan Todorovic / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?


Why It May Boost Fertility

Healthy fats are an important part of overall health but also healthy reproductive health.

Walnuts are rich in omega-3s and omega-6s. This is part of what led researchers to consider whether they might boost fertility.  In a small but interesting study, 117 men were randomly assigned to one of two groups. In the control group, men were told to continue their normal diet but avoid all tree nuts. In the experimental group, the men were told to continue with their normal diets but also eat a premeasured package of walnuts each day.

Each package contained 75 grams of whole shelled walnuts. That’s about a half a cup.

The walnut-eating men experienced improvements in semen health. In particular, sperm vitality, motility, and morphology improved.

How to Get More in Your Diet

Consider replacing your afternoon snack with a serving of walnuts!

Or, give these recipes a try:

Eggs for Fertility

Close up of sunnyside up egg with black pepper
Don't throw out the yellow! It's packed with fertility friendly nutrients.. Andrew Unangst / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?

Eggs, most especially the yolk.

Why It May Boost Fertility

Eggs are a good source of B-vitamins, which are important for fertility.

Omega-3 fats are important for fertility as well, and you can get a boost from the omega-enriched eggs. They cost a little extra but are well worth it if you don’t eat much fish.

Another good reason to eat eggs: they are an inexpensive source of lean protein, which has also been found to be good for fertility in men and women.

Eggs also contain choline. Choline may reduce the risk of some birth defects. (But not all studies have not found this.)

How to Get More in Your Diet

Many dieting experts recommend throwing out the yellow and eating just the whites of the egg. Don’t do that!

When you’re trying to boost fertility, you want the nutrients contained in the yellow.

If you’re trying to lose weight, just cut back on calories somewhere else.

Recipes to consider trying:

Pineapple for Fertility

Slices of pineapple with skin still on
Pineapple may or may not help embryos stick during IVF -- but it's still a tasty source of vitamin-C.. loops7 / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?


Why It May Boost Fertility

There’s a very common belief that eating pineapple core for 5 days following ovulation or embryo transfer (during IVF) will help with implantation.​ But there’s absolutely no science to back this practice that up.

With that said, there are other good reasons to enjoy pineapple when you’re trying to conceive.

For one, it’s a good source of vitamin C. One cup will give you 46% of your daily-recommended value. Low vitamin C levels have been associated with PCOS.​ Vitamin C may also help boost male fertility. One study found that supplementation with vitamin C helped boost sperm quality in heavy smokers. (Though if you’re smoking, a much better plan to boost your fertility is to quit smoking. Sometimes the obvious just has to be said...)

Pineapples contain bromelain, a natural enzyme that may have an anti-inflammatory effect. But there’s currently no research to suggest this can improve fertility.

How to Get More in Your Diet

Pineapple is a low calorie fruit that can satisfy your sweet tooth in a much healthier way than candy can. So why not enjoy?

Salmon for Fertility

Raw salmon with seasonings
Salmon deserves its place among fertility superfoods. Add some to your weekly menu for a fertility boost.. Shana Novak / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?

Wild-caught salmon – yes, wild caught, not farmed.  It is worth spending the extra money for the healthiest variety!

Why It May Boost Fertility

Salmon is on just about every superfood list – fertility focused or not. We all need more fish in our diets. Wild-caught salmon is pretty much a perfect pick.

You need to be careful about mercury contamination in fish when you’re trying to conceive and once you get pregnant. But wild-caught salmon is on the low end when it comes to toxins.

Salmon is rich in essential fatty acids and omega-3s, which has been shown to be beneficial to fertility in men and women. It’s also a must have nutrient during pregnancy for healthy fetal growth. So you might as well add it to your menu now, you’ll be eating it for a while!

Other important reproductive nutrients found in salmon are vitamin D and selenium. Selenium has been shown to be important for semen healthy, and low vitamin D levels seem to be associated with poor fertility in men and women.

In fact, salmon is one of the very best food sources of vitamin D. Just three ounces of smoked salmon will give you 97% of the daily-recommended value for vitamin D.

How to Get More in Your Diet

There are so many yummy and healthy ways to prepare salmon. Aim to make fish a regular part of your weekly meal plans.

Cinnamon for Fertility

Cinnamon sticks alongside a pile of ground cinnamon
Add a little cinnamon to your oatmeal, tea, or coffee for a possible fertility boost.. Burwell and Burwell Photography / Getty Images

What’s the Fertility Food?

Cinnamon, the spice.

Why It May Boost Fertility

Insulin resistance is associated with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a common cause of infertility in women. Cinnamon supplementation has been shown in a number of studied to improve the health of diabetics.

In one randomized controlled clinical trial, cinnamon was found to reduce glucose levels, triglycerides, LDL cholesterol (that’s the “bad” kind), and total cholesterol in patients with diabetes. This led to researchers wondering if cinnamon could be good for fertility.

In a small but interesting study, 45 women with PCOS were either told to take a cinnamon supplement or a placebo for six months. The women who got the cinnamon showed improved ovulation and menstrual regularity, while those who got the placebo showed no improvements.

How to Get More in Your Diet

Sprinkle cinnamon on your morning oatmeal, on top of your yogurt, or into your tea or coffee.

Here are some recipes to try:

More Ways to Boost Fertility

Woman looking at her laptop, researching fertility and diet
There's so much more to learn about fertility and diet.. Tony Garcia / Getty Images

Like this article? Here are more ways to improve your health and boost fertility!


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