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Top 5 Fertility Foods

When I was trying to get pregnant, I had so many people giving me advice on what to do to boost my chances. Just eat this, just do this, just go here… and I bet you’ll get pregnant! I wish this was the case! Honestly, how easy would it be to get stuck into one magical superfood, and magically get preggas?! Sadly, I don’t believe this is the case.

I wrote recently about the nutrients that are the ‘heros’ when it comes to enjoying a healthy pregnancy. Check that article out here. Now, we’re going to look at how you can get a good dose of these nutrients through whole foods. The good news is they are simple, everyday foods that you should easily be able to incorporate into your everyday. Check out the inspiration below. If you want a bit more hand-holding, let me know if you're keen to sign up for the Preconception Program when it launches. 

1. Salmon

Key nutrients

Vitamin B12, Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids, Vitamin D3, Iodine, Selenium, Protein, Iron

What’s so good?

  • Tinned salmon contains great source of calcium in the bones, which our bodies absorb easily.
  • Good fats – omega 3’s are essential fatty acids that the body cannot make from scratch. They are essential for normal hormone functioning and to help control inflammation (super important because when inflammation gets out of control it can interfere with getting and staying pregnant).
  • According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, wild salmon nourishes the yin and blood. Healthy yin ensures healthy follicles and cervical fluid and healthy blood is associated with a thick and healthy endometrial lining – key fertility indicators. Choose the deepest red coloured salmon for maximum benefits.
Stick to around 300g of salmon (or other fish) per week so mercury levels and other pollutants don’t cause issues – that’s about 2 fillets or 3 small tins.

Salmon-spiration…

  • Salmon patties
  • Healthy salmon mornay bake
  • Smoked salmon salad
  • Poached on brown rice with fresh tomato, cucumber and avocado with a drizzle of tamari
  • Smoked salmon with poached eggs, asparagus and roast tomatoes
  • Omelette with tinned salmon
  • Can’t be F’d? Tinned salmon on toast – perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner when you just can’t be bothered. Add a bit of tomato or sauerkraut for a nutrient boost (and a cheeky smear of mayo for a flavour boost!).

Beef slow cooked

2. Beef (or chicken!)

Key nutrients

Zinc, Vitamin B6 & B12, Protein, Iron

Chicken is another great alternative to beef with a really high nutrient content (iron content is not as high as beef unless you go for chicken liver).

What’s so good?

  • Vitamin B12 is not as readily available as B6. Us human beings cannot absorb plant forms of B12, only those found in animal sources. 
  • Protein is a building block for cellular growth, to build and repair body tissues, create new cells and produce hormones (you cannot make LH or FSH without it). Egg production, sperm count and motility all require adequate protein. So you can see why it’s important that you are getting enough when trying to build a baby.
  • Choose grass-fed beef and free range chicken to maximise the amount of chi or vital energy present. Grass-fed beef also contains higher levels of omega 3’s and cancer fighting antioxidants, and lower levels of fat and cholesterol elevating saturated fatty acids.

Beef-spiration…

  • Traditional Bolognese with carrot and zucchini noodles
  • No pasta lasagna
  • Chili con carne on baked sweet potato
  • Cottage pie with cauliflower mash
  • Steak and lentil salad
  • Stir fry
  • Can’t be f’ed? I get the hubster on the BBQ. There are some great organic sausages and burgers available from the major supermarkets, and if you’re house is like our house, you won’t have to cook!

3. Eggs

Key nutrients

Zinc, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3 & E, Iodine, Protein, Iron, Selenium, Folate

What’s so good

  • Eggs are a great source of cholesterol. But isn’t cholesterol bad? Cholesterol is a fat-like substance that gets a bad wrap. In fact, from the right sources, it is an important part of any diet. Especially where fertility is concerned. It’s the precursor to the main hormones required for pregnancy – progesterone, estrogen and androgens – as well as Vitamin D. Low cholesterol levels have been shown to cause hormone imbalances. Just steer clear of trans fat and processed saturated fat sources like margarine, cakes and potato chippies… ok keep a few potato chippies if you must!
  • Great protein-rich snack with it’s own packaging.

Egg-spiration…

  • Frittata
  • Baked eggs – Mexican style – aree bah!
  • Poached, scrambled or fried.
  • Rice slice
  • Keep boiled eggs in the fridge for a post-workout or in-between meal snack. In Chinese medicine, boiled eggs hold the most vital energy.
  • Salad with boiled eggs
  • Egg muffins or mini frittatas like Sarah Wilson’s
  • Can’t be f’d? An omelette and veggies is my go to can’t be bothered meal – breakfast, lunch or dinner. Any mix of veggies works too – seriously, anything.

4. Seeds – sunflower + pumpkin (pepitas)

Key nutrients

Zinc, Folate, Vitamin E, Iron, Protein, Magnesium

What’s so good about seeds?

  • Blood sugar balancer – Carbohydrates (sugars) with a Low Glycemic Index (GI) are digested slowly, making it easier to manage blood glucose levels and insulin secretion. The higher GI the food has, the quicker the body will digest it and the faster blood glucose levels will rise. This causes insulin to spike in response, to act as a balancer for blood glucose. If you are eating high GI foods like dried fruit, or simple carbohydrates/sugars, you can slow down the rate of digestion by eating it together with low GI foods like seeds and nuts. This is especially important in managing PCOS.
  • Sunflower seeds are used to treat dryness in TCM – often associated with infertility.

Keep in mind…

Phytic acid, which is found in grains, nuts, seeds and other plant foods, binds to calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc – limiting absorption of these nutrients. That’s what all the fuss about ‘activating’ nuts and seeds is all about. I do try to activate my nuts and seeds if I have time (they taste better too!). Check out this easy reference guide from Move Nourish Believe.

Seed-spiration…

  • Salad booster – toast in a pan (without oil) and toss through any salad
  • Sprinkle on top of when baking muffins, slices and frittatas.
  • Chia puddings
  • Muesli
  • Granola
  • Can’t be f’d – sprinkle through some yoghurt and fresh fruit for a brekky or snack on the go.

Poached eggs with spinach

5. Spinach

Key nutrients

Zinc, Vitamin B6, Folate, Vitamin E, Magnesium and Iron

What’s so good about spinach?

  • What’s not good about spinach? This leafy green should be a diet staple. Shown to prevent cancer, lower blood pressure, improve weight loss and prevent birth defects… it’s good to go green.
  • Plus, according to old Ayurveda texts, spinach is an aphrodisiac and love making is the key to baby making! Giddy up!

Keep in mind…

The iron in plant sources is not as absorbable as the iron in animal sources. So while foods like spinach may be high in iron, you need to eat almost twice as much for your body to see the benefits. You can help this by eating plant sources with Vitamin C sources.

Raw vs Cooked

Again, it’s always about balance. Cooking spinach decreases the amount of some vitamins like C and folate, but it slightly increases vitamins A, B6 and K, as well as minerals iron, calcium and magnesium. So don’t be too precious. Just eat up!

Spin-spiration…

  • Green smoothies
  • Poached eggs with spinach, roast tomatoes and garlicky mushrooms
  • Any meal nutrient booster – place any main meal on a bed of spinach – think Bolognese on a bed of spinach, grilled chicken and veggies on a bed of spinach, fish curry on a bed of spinach.
  • Can’t be f’d? Add a handful of baby spinach to grilled cheese on toast to boost the nutrient content of everyone’s favourite comfort food.