I refer to some foods as fertility superfoods because they’re especially rich nutrients important for fertility. And they aren’t obscure foods that you’ll struggle to find. They’re your everyday, real whole foods. Superfoods give you more bang for your buck in terms of nutrition. Take a humble plate of vegetables – this contains an abundance of vitamins and minerals. Whereas, a plate of refined pasta does not. Nutrient-rich foods best support fertility and overall health. Here’re my top five:
In at number one are eggs. Eggs are a rich source of complete protein, healthy fats and cholesterol. The yolks contain an abundance of important fertility nutrients and are the richest source of choline for many (the other richest source is liver, see below).
Choline has a similar function to folate. It’s involved in foetal brain development and helps prevent neural tube defects. It is also important for keeping the placenta healthy.
If you’re not sensitive to eggs, then aim to include two to three each day. If you’re sensitive or allergic to eggs, or you simply don’t like them, then it’s important to focus on eating liver regularly and/or look at supplementing choline – I like BodyBio PC (use coupon code TFK15 for 15% discount).
Join the Recipe Hub for access to these delicious egg recipes
- Breakfast egg muffins
- Protein-packed porridge
- Green goddess omelette
- Rainbow abundance bowl
- Traditional shakshuka
- Spinach and feta muffins
- Sweet breakfast omelette
Leafy green vegetables
If I had to choose one colour vegetable to prioritise, it would be green (although all the others are also great! Read this article to learn why). Green vegetables are especially beneficial for fertility because they are crammed with essential nutrients such as calcium, folate, iron and vitamin K1, as well as fibre. They also contain carotenoids, which are found in the ovaries where they protect against oxidative stress, therefore supporting egg quality. There are so many varieties of dark green leafy vegetables to try, so don’t just stick with the ones you know. Here’s a list of leafy green veg to try:
- Chard (all varieties)
- Collard (spring) greens
- Kale (all varieties)
- Lettuce (butterhead, crisphead, looseleaf and romaine – with lots of varieties falling into each of these categories)
Aim to eat one portion (1-cup measure, tightly packed) with every meal. If it seems strange to eat greens at breakfast, add them to a smoothie (try the down-regulation IVF smoothie), or serve with eggs.
Join the Recipe Hub for access to these delicious recipes that make the most of leafy greens
- Spinach and feta muffins
- Broccoli, spinach and feta salad
- Jar salad
- Strawberry, spinach and salmon salad
- Salsa verde
- Chicken and vegetable broth with ginger
- Chickpea and aubergine seven-spice tray bake
- Miso salmon with cavolo nero (black kale)
- Lemony sweet potato and lentil curry
- Best green smoothie
Ignore the ick factor and include organ meat in your diet! Liver scores highly in the fertility nutrition stakes; gram for gram, it contains more nutrients than any other food. Therefore, liver also goes by the name of nature’s multivitamin because it’s so abundant in nutrients! Liver contains significant amounts of vital fertility nutrients, including vitamins A, B6 and B12, choline, copper, folate, iron, vitamin K2, selenium and zinc.
If you haven’t eaten liver before, start including it once a week and start with organic chicken liver, which has the mildest flavour. You can easily hide liver in food by puréeing, finely slicing, or freezing, grating and adding it to the pot for the last minute or two of cooking time (it cooks quickly). Liver is suited to recipes like bolognese, chilli and curries where you can’t detect it! Try my hidden liver recipes in The Fertility Kitchen, there’s a slow cooked beef and black bean chilli (a reader fave) on page 168, and beef burgers on page 178.
Cold-water oily (fatty) fish is the richest dietary source of the essential omega-3 fat DHA. DHA is vital for foetal brain development, as well as lowering inflammation in both mother and baby. Oily fish ticks a lot of important fertility nutrient boxes, including vitamin B12, choline, iodine, iron, selenium and zinc, making it another fertility superfood. It’s important to make sure you’re including oily fish in your diet before pregnancy, as foetal brain development starts early.
Choose fish species with high levels of DHA and low levels of heavy metals (such as mercury) and contaminants. Good choices include:
- Atlantic mackerel
- Rainbow trout (if you’ve not tried trout yet, it’s very similar to salmon)
- Wild Alaskan or sockeye salmon
Include oily fish in your fertility diet two to three times per week and mix things up by trying different varieties. There are plenty of recipes to help you achieve this in the Recipe Hub, or check this popular spiced salmon tray bake recipe from the blog.
Join the Recipe Hub for access to these delicious oily fish recipes
- Strawberry, spinach and salmon salad
- Easy baked salmon ratatouille
- Tikka salmon skewers
What if you don’t like oily fish, or you’re veggie/vegan?
If you’re not going to be able to eat oily fish then it’s important to supplement with a high quality fish oil supplement everyday to benefit from the nutrients highlighted above. If you’re happy to take capsules then I recommend BodyBio Fish Oil (use coupon code TFK for 15% discount). Or you might prefer a liquid, in which case you can’t go wrong with Omega 3 Zooki (use coupon code TFK20 for 20% discount). The flavour is mango peach and it’s delicious straight off the spoon, or you can mix it into smoothies or yoghurt.
If you’re veggie or vegan check out Cytoplan Omega-3 Vegan (use coupon code SC0068-35-10 for 10% discount) derived from marine algae.
Bone broth, meat on-the-bone and slow-cooked meat
Homemade bone broth (stock) offers a source of nutrients that can otherwise be lacking in our diets. The bones, skin and connective tissue are rich in protein, gelatine, collagen, glycine and minerals. Bones contain more minerals per gram than any other body tissue and broth made from bones is full of these minerals as they leach into the liquid as it simmers. Collagen and gelatine are rich sources of glycine, which is essential to obtain from your diet during pregnancy. Glycine is a structural amino acid needed for foetal DNA and collagen synthesis and it helps your body to grow and adapt to pregnancy.
The most reliable sources of collagen, gelatine and glycine include bone broth, slow-cooked meat and skin-on, bone-in poultry. You can also add pure gelatine or collagen powders to other foods. And you can make your own nourishing stock, which you can use to make soups, or if you’re time poor then buy Freja bone broth to use in your cooking.
My favourite collagen powder from Ancient + Brave mixes well in hot drinks, soups and smoothies alike. And you can use Osaa grass-fed gelatine powder to make homemade gummy bears (recipe available in the Recipe Hub).
Check out The Fertility Kitchen for these recipes:
- Slow-cooked pulled pork
- Lemon-and-herb roast chicken
- Adaptogenic cinnamon-chai hot chocolate
- Gut lovin’ gummies
I hope this post has given you lots of ideas to try. Were any of my superfoods a surprise to you? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments below, or post in The Fertility Kitchen Community.