Diet is one of the first things people try to improve to help their fertility. For good reason. There is strong evidence that a healthy diet can improve fertility in both men and women. Sperm are particularly sensitive to what you eat. They need key nutrients including folate, selenium, zinc and several antioxidants to develop properly.
Here is a list of fertility superfoods chock full of key vitamins and minerals that can increase sperm count and sperm health.
Asparagus: Asparagus is not only full of nutrients that are critical for healthy sperm production but it also has unique properties that can help your cardiovascular system and lower your blood sugar. A single serving of 6 spears can be eaten a variety of ways and is a great addition to dishes ranging from stir fry to Italian dishes, soups and salads.
Avocado: Nature’s butter, avocados are full of healthy oils that make them both delicious and good for you. They are high in folate, vitamin E and vitamin C which are very helpful for DNA replication and for helping sperm cells swim. They make an excellent replacement for mayonnaise, are great on salads and can be used in a variety of ways to make breakfast more filling to give you a great start to the day.
Beans: Beans often have a bad rap because they are a little more difficult to digest and can sometimes cause gas. But they are rich in fiber and protein and make an excellent replacement for more empty starches in soups and stews. Most beans are very high in folate which is one of the most important vitamins for both sperm and developing embryos.
Bell pepper: This versatile superfood can be thrown into most meals. It contains over 100% of your vitamin C (more than 2x as much as a typical orange) and significant amounts of nearly all the B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin E and folate among other things.
Berries: Throw them in your oatmeal, sprinkle on salads or eat them as a snack. Berries pack a powerful antioxidant punch that protects sperm as they develop. They also have a lot of fiber to balance out their sweetness which leaves them with a lower glycemic index (GI) and makes them a great alternative when you are craving something sweet.
Broccoli: There’s a reason mom wanted you to eat it. Broccoli contains nearly all the vitamins and minerals that have been linked to improved semen quality (and overall good health). There are some amazing recipes out there that can turn broccoli into a meal unto itself. Google them. They are delicious.
Citrus: We all know that orange juice is good for us when we get a cold because it is high in vitamin C, but did you know that vitamin C can also help protect sperm as they develop? Other citrus fruits such as grapefruit, pineapple, lemons or lime are also high in this amazing antioxidant and are great for your fertility.
Dark chocolate: Chocolate is a superfood? Yes, please. When consuming chocolate for its health benefits, we are talking about the really dark stuff. The darker the better. Most chocolate is prepared with a ton of fat and sugar (not so good for you). However, dark chocolate labeled with a level of purity (ideally above 70%) does contain several nutrients that are very helpful in sperm development including antioxidants, zinc and selenium.
Greens: No getting around it. Greens are one of the healthiest foods on the planet. If kale feels a little too intense for you, start with spinach. It can be thrown into nearly any dish or used as a base for salad. If vegetables feel like a big step, this one packs a powerful punch and has a mild flavor. It’s almost like taking a multivitamin, except better.
Lean beef: Red meat gets a bad rap. Like chocolate, a lot of beef is high in fat and not prepared very well. However, if you can find grass-fed, organic, lean beef, there are a ton on nutrients in it shown to improve sperm quality including l-carnitine, zinc, coenzyme Q10 and selenium. All things in moderation. Too much red meat can be bad for you, so mix it up with poultry, fish and seafood which are also linked to improved fertility.
Lentils: Commonly used in Indian food and soups, lentils pack a powerful punch. They are one of nature’s best sources of folate, a critical nutrient required for DNA replication that has been found to improve sperm health and reduce birth defects.
Mushrooms: Studies have linked various types of mushrooms with improved immune systems and cardiovascular health. Many people don’t think mushrooms have much nutritional value but they can contain over 15 different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that are great for your health and for your sperm.
Nuts: A great mid-day snack, nuts are filling, easy to eat and mess free. They are rich in healthy fats and have been tied to better semen quality in several studies. Different nuts have different nutrient profiles. Walnuts have higher omega-3s, brazil nuts are a top source of selenium, and almonds are high in vitamin E. Eating a variety of nuts will enhance health benefits of these fertility superfoods.
Oats: Which are healthier: steel cut or old-fashioned rolled oats? In a side by side comparison, steel cut wins by a hair. Whichever you prefer, both are an excellent way to start the day. They are high in fiber, can help reduce cholesterol and contain nutrients linked to improved fertility.
Olive oil: Extra virgin olive oil has a unique blend of healthy fats and micronutrients that makes it one of the world’s healthiest foods. It has been linked to healthier digestion, bones and brain function and helps protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. To maximize the health benefits, you should avoid cooking it at high heats. Ideally, add it to dishes after they are fully cooked.
Poultry: Eat more chikin. Both chicken and turkey breast are high in protein, selenium, coenzyme Q10 and zinc. As with beef, it is important to choose high-quality pasture raised, organic poultry. Diet profiles of farm animals can impact the nutritional quality of the meat.
Salmon: There’s more to salmon than the omega-3 fatty acids that have propelled them into the lime light. Salmon are a top source of B vitamins, vitamin D and selenium. The best type to purchase is wild-caught Alaskan salmon (fresh or frozen), which has the lowest risk of pollutant contamination and better sustainability practices than other types out there.
Seafood: Oysters, shrimp, lobster and crab are high in key sperm boosting nutrients – selenium, zinc, and vitamin E among others. Plus, they make for a great romantic dinner. (Just try to avoid frying them or dipping in butter).
Sweet potatoes: There’s a reason that sweet potatoes have become a trendy replacement for regular potatoes. They pack a powerful nutritional punch. They are nature’s greatest natural source of vitamin A, a powerful antioxidant that has been strongly associated with sperm production.
Tomatoes: Tomatoes are anti-oxidant powerhouses that support overall good health including reproductive health. They can help improve sperm count, sperm motility and sperm morphology. To maximize health benefits, try to use the whole tomato including the skin. Ketchup doesn’t count.