Here are ten Clean & Lean foods that will help to improve and extend not only your fertility, but also that of your partner. If you’re already pregnant or you’re a mum, eat them anyway to keep you healthy and feeling great.
- Full-fat dairy: Researchers from Harvard University found women who eat at least one serving of full-fat dairy a day reduce their risk of infertility by more than a quarter. The dairy is thought to help improve ovarian function. Forget low-fat or diet yogurts as they often contain sugar to make up for the lack of fat but tuck into full-fat Greek yogurt, organic milk and quality (less-processed) cheese.
- Olive oil: Researchers from Harvard University found that olive and certain other oils – like flaxseed – can boost female fertility by promoting proper hormone function.
- Folate-rich foods: Folic acid, also known as vitamin B9, is essential for all women who are trying to conceive or in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy as it protects against neural tube defects such as spina bifida. A 400mcg supplement is recommended together with folate-rich foods such as broccoli, spinach, asparagus and lentils.
- Orange fruit and vegetables: The body converts orange foods that are rich in beta-carotene to vitamin A, which supports healthy ovulation.
- Vegetarian protein: According to a study at Harvard University, women who eat more plant proteins (eg. nuts, chickpeas and legumes), are more likely to get pregnant than those who get their proteins from red meat as the latter are harder to digest and this can send hormone levels out of balance, thus affecting fertility.
- Oily fish: The omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish help to regulate reproductive hormones, relieve stress and increase blood flow to the sexual organs. Vegetarians can get omega-3 fatty acids from walnuts, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed oil and eggs.
- Spinach: It’s a great source of folate, which improves sperm production. A study from the University of California found that men who regularly eat spinach had up to 30 per cent healthier sperm, so eat it a couple of times a week to improve your fertility.
- Honey: Researchers at the University of Western Australia found that the antioxidants present in honey may prevent sperm damage and increase sperm health. Pick a good-quality manuka honey, as it contains more health-boosting antioxidants than regular honey. Spread it thinly on oatcakes or fresh rye bread.
- Brazil nuts: A study from the University of Padua showed that just three of these a day can prevent damage to sperm from environmental factors.
- Brightly coloured fruits and vegetables: Researchers at the University of Rochester NY, USA found that brightly coloured fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, beetroot, peppers and oranges, which contain the antioxidants glutathione and cryptoxanthin, are associated with strong, healthy sperm.
Taken from Clear and Lean Pregnancy Guide by James Duigan. Published by Kyle Books, priced £12.99.
Photography by Sebastian Roos and Charlie Richards.