13th Feb 2024

fertility diet

For some couples, the process of getting pregnant can be relatively quick and easy. However, for many others, it can be a little more complicated. There can be lots of reasons why people struggle to conceive, including hormonal imbalances, problems with ovulation or sperm quality, health conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), as well as excessive drinking, smoking, and many more.

But did you know that the foods that you eat may also influence your reproductive health1? While even the healthiest diet won’t fix some of the most severe issues impacting female or male fertility, there’s plenty of evidence that eating a balanced, nutritious eating plan can help improve both egg and sperm quality and play a role in enhancing your ability to conceive. 

Keep reading to discover the essentials on diet and fertility, including the best fertility boosting foods for men and women, foods to avoid in a fertility diet, and the nutrients you should consider adding to your daily routine to maximize your chances of getting pregnant. 

Can You Use Foods to Boost Fertility?

Regarding pregnancy, good nutrition is key for keeping the mother-to-be and the developing baby healthy and strong. A nutritious diet during pregnancy is linked to good brain development2 and a healthy birth weight and can also reduce the risk of many congenital anomalies. 

But even before conception, an unhealthy diet or one containing too many or too few calories3 can negatively impact fertility and may even indirectly affect the health of your future child. 

Diet is linked to fertility in many ways, including:

Hormonal balance: Hormones play a key role in regulating reproductive function, and certain nutrients are essential for hormone synthesis and balance. Deficiencies in folate, iron, vitamin D, and omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to hormonal imbalances that can disrupt fertility and reproductive processes4.

Weight and body composition: Your weight and fat distribution can also affect fertility. Both excess body fat and being underweight can disrupt hormonal balance5, leading to irregular menstrual cycles, ovulatory dysfunction, and reduced fertility. Adipose (fatty) tissue, especially visceral fat (belly fat), can lead to the secretion of hormones and inflammatory factors that may interfere with conception and reproductive function.

Insulin sensitivity and metabolic health: Insulin resistance, a condition characterized by reduced responsiveness to insulin, can lead to hyperinsulinemia (elevated insulin levels), which can disrupt ovarian function6 and increase the risk of conditions such as PCOS in women and reduced sperm quality in men. Diets high in refined carbohydrates and sugars can exacerbate insulin resistance, whereas balanced diets that promote stable blood sugar levels support metabolic health and fertility.

Inflammation: Chronic inflammation is linked to several reproductive disorders7, such as endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), and male infertility. Eating too many processed foods, refined sugars, and unhealthy fats can promote inflammation in the body. On the other hand, a diet rich in anti-inflammatory nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytonutrients can lower inflammation and potentially enhance fertility.

6 Best Foods for Fertility

There aren’t any magical foods to increase fertility or that help you get pregnant fast, especially if you or your partner have underlying issues that may require medical attention. However, a straightforward way to support your fertility is to ensure you include enough healthy choices from all major food groups. 

Generally speaking, the foods that help with fertility are the same as those that improve your general health. That said, if you’re looking for a specific fertility diet for women, research shows8 that anti-inflammatory diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, may boost overall health and improve fertility. 

The Mediterranean diet is a primarily plant-based diet that includes whole grains, healthy fats (particularly those in certain fish and seafood), plenty of vegetables, beans, nuts, and legumes. Dairy, red meat, chicken, and eggs are only eaten in small amounts. These are some of the foods that increase fertility based on the Mediterranean diet approach:

Fruits and Vegetables

Incorporating fruits and vegetables into your diet is crucial for fertility support. Fresh fruits and vegetables aid in hormonal balance,9 reduce inflammation, and protect reproductive cells against oxidative damage, making them excellent fertility foods when you’re trying to conceive. Here are some options to include in your fertility diet:

  • Dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, broccoli, bok choy, and mustard greens
  • Asparagus, which is rich in folate, an essential nutrient for reproductive health
  • Brussels sprouts, which are high in vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports hormonal function
  • Tomatoes, which contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that protects against oxidative stress
  • Avocado, which is packed with healthy fats and vitamin E, a nutrient that supports hormone production
  • Citrus fruits, like lemons, oranges, grapefruits, and tangerines, are high in vitamin C and other antioxidants
  • Watermelon, which is also rich in lycopene and other antioxidants that support reproductive health
  • Pomegranate, which contains polyphenols that protect against oxidative damage
  • Dates, which are high in fiber, potassium, and other essential nutrients
  • Sweet potatoes, which are rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that supports reproductive health.

Complex Carbs

Carbs often get a bad rap, but if you’re looking to boost your fertility, it’s essential to include complex carbohydrates in your diet. These carbs, found in whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables, are vital to regulating blood sugar levels and hormone balance. And they provide essential nutrients that are crucial for reproductive health. 

Unlike simple carbs, complex ones digest slowly, preventing blood sugar spikes10 that can mess with your hormones. Complex carbs also offer a range of essential vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients necessary for reproductive health. Fiber aids digestion and hormone regulation, while vitamins and minerals play important roles in reproductive processes and overall health. 

Seafood Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

According to a study11 from Harvard University, couples who eat more seafood are more likely to conceive than those who don’t. For the study, researchers followed over 500 couples trying to get pregnant. In the end, 92% of the couples who ate four-ounce servings of fish twice a week or more were able to get pregnant after a year, compared with 79% of the couples who consumed less. 

Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, and trout are excellent fertility foods for women and men trying to conceive. These fish are abundant sources of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), which play vital roles in hormone production, inflammation modulation, and cell membrane integrity. 

Omega-3 fatty acids are known to reduce inflammation, which can contribute to infertility. They also help maintain the structural integrity of cells, including those comprising reproductive organs. Additionally, omega-3s have been shown to improve blood flow to the reproductive organs, enhancing fertility and supporting healthy pregnancy outcomes.

Raw Nuts & Seeds

Nuts and seeds, such as almonds, walnuts, pistachios, and chia seeds, are packed with nutrients, making them a great snack choice and a delicious and crunchy addition to salads, smoothies, and soups. They’re an excellent source of anti-inflammatory monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids12 and are packed with fertility-supporting nutrients that play vital roles in the production of both sperm and eggs. 

Different nuts and seeds provide different nutrients, so munching on a wide variety is a great way to help meet your conception needs, for example:

  • A handful of walnuts, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, and flaxseeds provide plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, a type of healthy fat that helps regulate male and female hormones
  • A single Brazil nut a day meets your daily needs for selenium, which supports thyroid function as well as sperm health and follicle development
  • Pistachios, almonds, cashews, sesame seeds, and flax seeds all help build your iron stores, helping you prepare for increased demands in pregnancy
  • Pine nuts, cashews, almonds, and sunflower seeds are a few of the many nuts and seeds that are rich in zinc, which is necessary for healthy egg and sperm development

Folic Acid and Vitamin B12

Folic acid (folate) and vitamin B12 are two essential nutrients for reproductive health. Folate13 is necessary for DNA synthesis, cell division, and neural tube development in the early stages of pregnancy. It’s particularly important for women who are planning to conceive because a deficiency in folate can lead to congenital disabilities, such as spina bifida, in developing fetuses. 

Vitamin B12, on the other hand, supports neurological function and red blood cell production. It helps in the development of the spinal cord, brain, and nervous system of the fetus. A deficiency in vitamin B12 can also lead to congenital anomalies, increase the risk of miscarriage, and may be a contributing factor to difficulty in conceiving14.

You can get folate and vitamin B12 from a variety of foods. Some of the best sources of folate include leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, as well as legumes like lentils and chickpeas. 

Fortified cereals, eggs, and seafood like salmon and shrimp are also excellent sources. Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal-based food sources such as meat, poultry, fish, and dairy. If you’re a vegetarian or vegan, you can still get vitamin B12 from fortified cereals, plant-based milk, and nutritional yeast.

H3: Fertility Supplements

While technically not a food, adding a female fertility supplement to your diet can be a helpful way to support your conception efforts. That is because several vitamins and minerals that are included in high-quality fertility supplements can have a positive impact on reproductive health.

One of the most important nutrients for fertility is folic acid, which can help prevent congenital disabilities and support healthy fetal development. While you can get some of your daily requirements from food, it’s recommended15 that women trying to conceive take at least 400 micrograms of folic acid per day. Another essential nutrient for fertility is iron. Iron helps support healthy ovulation16 and can help prevent anemia, which can have a negative impact on fertility. 

Magnesium can help support healthy hormone levels and improve overall fertility17. It can also help reduce stress and anxiety. CoQ10 has been shown18 to enhance egg quality and may also help prevent age-related decline in fertility. Furthermore, L-arginine, an essential amino acid, can increase blood flow to the ovaries and help boost cervical mucus production, which is vital for conception. 

Male fertility supplements can also be helpful for men to improve sperm health and fill nutritional gaps. For example, L-carnitine is critical to the formation of healthy sperm and can increase both sperm health and motility19. L-acetyl-carnitine, the most abundant amino acid in the male system, can stimulate testosterone production, stabilize sperm membranes, and rejuvenate testicular function. Finally, maca root has been shown20 to increase sperm volume, count, and motility.

Foods to Avoid in a Fertility Diet

Although knowing which foods to add to your fertility diet can be helpful, it’s also important to understand that some foods may negatively impact21 your efforts to get pregnant. At the same time, being flexible and allowing yourself a well-deserved treat occasionally without feeling guilty or anxious is just as important during this often stressful period of life. 

If you’re trying to get pregnant, try to cut down or avoid the following:

  • Red and processed meats
  • Processed baked goods and refined carbs
  • Sugary soft drinks
  • Alcohol
  • Too much dairy
  • Trans fats

Boost Fertility with FertilitySmart

If you and your partner are looking to conceive, incorporating fertility-friendly foods into your diet can be a great way to support your reproductive health. And in addition to eating a balanced diet, you might consider adding FertilitySmart’s non-prescription formulas to your routine. 

Our award-winning, scientifically validated supplements are specially designed for both men and women and contain all-natural ingredients and essential vitamins that can help promote hormonal balance and reproductive wellness. Unlike other conception products, our solutions do not contain harmful chemicals or synthetic hormones. Our supplements are designed to naturally support your fertility and increase your chances of conceiving.

Ready to get started? Learn more about our fertility supplements for women and male fertility supplements and check out our success stories today!


1 Panth, N., Gavarkovs, A., Tamez, M., & Mattei, J. (2018). The Influence of Diet on 

Fertility and the Implications for Public Health Nutrition in the United States. Frontiers 

in Public Health, 6(211). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2018.00211

2 Cortés-Albornoz, M. C., García-Guáqueta, D. P., Velez-van-Meerbeke, A., & 

Talero-Gutiérrez, C. (2021). Maternal Nutrition and Neurodevelopment: A Scoping 

Review. Nutrients, 13(10), 3530. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13103530

3 Williams, N. I., Leidy, H. J., Hill, B. R., Lieberman, J. L., Legro, R. S., & Souza, M. J. 

  1. (2015). Magnitude of daily energy deficit predicts frequency but not severity of 

menstrual disturbances associated with exercise and caloric restriction. American 

Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism, 308(1), E29–E39. 


4 Skoracka, K., Ratajczak, A. E., Rychter, A. M., Dobrowolska, A., & 

Krela-Kaźmierczak, I. (2021). Female Fertility and the Nutritional Approach: The Most 

Essential Aspects. Advances in Nutrition, 12(6). 


5 Aladashvili-Chikvaidze, N., Kristesashvili, J., & Gegechkori, M. (2015). Types of 

reproductive disorders in underweight and overweight young females and correlations 

of respective hormonal changes with BMI. Iranian Journal of Reproductive Medicine

13(3), 135–140. 


6 Sakumoto, T., Tokunaga, Y., Tanaka, H., Nohara, M., Motegi, E., Shinkawa, T., 

Nakaza, A., & Higashi, M. (2010). Insulin resistance/hyperinsulinemia and 

reproductive disorders in infertile women. Reproductive Medicine and Biology, 9(4), 



7 Vannuccini, S., Clifton, V. L., Fraser, I. S., Taylor, H. S., Critchley, H., Giudice, L. C., 

& Petraglia, F. (2015). Infertility and reproductive disorders: impact of hormonal and 

inflammatory mechanisms on pregnancy outcome. Human Reproduction Update, 22(1), 



8 Alesi, S., Villani, A., Mantzioris, E., Takele, W. W., Cowan, S., Moran, L. J., & 

Mousa, A. (2022). Anti-Inflammatory Diets in Fertility: An Evidence Review. 

Nutrients, 14(19), 3914. 


9 Ronco, A. L., De Stéfani, E., & Stoll, M. (2010). Hormonal and metabolic modulation 

through nutrition: Towards a primary prevention of breast cancer. The Breast, 19(5), 

322–332. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.breast.2010.05.005

10 Jenkins, D. J., Wolever, T. M., Leeds, A. R., Gassull, M. A., Haisman, P., Dilawari, J., 

Goff, D. V., Metz, G. L., & Alberti, K. G. (1978). Dietary fibres, fibre analogues, and 

glucose tolerance: importance of viscosity. British Medical Journal, 1(6124), 

1392–1394. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.1.6124.1392

11 Gaskins, A. J., Sundaram, R., Buck Louis, G. M., & Chavarro, J. E. (2018). Seafood 

Intake, Sexual Activity, and Time to Pregnancy. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology 

& Metabolism, 103(7), 2680–2688. https://doi.org/10.1210/jc.2018-00385

12 Coniglio, S., Shumskaya, M., & Vassiliou, E. (2023). Unsaturated Fatty Acids and 

Their Immunomodulatory Properties. Biology, 12(2), 279–279. 


13 CDC. (2018, October 30). Recommendations: Women & Folic Acid. Centers for 

Disease Control and Prevention. 


14 Agbalalah, T., Robert, F. O., & Amabebe, E. (2023). Impact of vitamin B12 on the 

reproductive health of women with sickle cell disease: a narrative review. Reproduction 

& Fertility, 4(3), e230015. https://doi.org/10.1530/RAF-23-0015

15 CDC. (2020, January 2). Folic Acid Helps Prevent Some Birth Defects. Centers for 

Disease Control and Prevention. 


16 Chavarro, J. E., Rich-Edwards, J. W., Rosner, B. A., & Willett, W. C. (2006). Iron 

intake and risk of ovulatory infertility. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 108(5), 1145–1152. 


17 Stuefer, S., Moncayo, H., & Moncayo, R. (2015). The role of magnesium and thyroid 

function in early pregnancy after in-vitro fertilization (IVF): New aspects in endocrine 

physiology. BBA Clinical, 3, 196–204. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bbacli.2015.02.006

18 Xu, Y., Nisenblat, V., Lu, C., Li, R., Qiao, J., Zhen, X., & Wang, S. (2018). 

Pretreatment with coenzyme Q10 improves ovarian response and embryo quality in 

low-prognosis young women with decreased ovarian reserve: a randomized controlled 

trial. Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology: RB&E, 16(1), 29. 


19 Aliabadi, E., Soleimani Mehranjani, M., Borzoei, Z., Talaei-Khozani, T., Mirkhani, 

H., & Tabesh, H. (2012). Effects of L-carnitine and L-acetyl-carnitine on testicular 

sperm motility and chromatin quality. Iranian Journal of Reproductive Medicine, 10(2), 



20 Gonzales, G. F., Cordova, A., Gonzales, C., Chung, A., Vega, K., & Villena, A. 

(2001). Lepidium meyenii (Maca) improved semen parameters in adult men. Asian 

Journal of Andrology, 3(4), 301–303. 


21 Marengo, K., & Bjarnadottir, A. (2023). 11 Foods and Beverages to Avoid During Pregnancy. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-foods-to-avoid-during-pregnancy.