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The Fertile Dozen: 12 Fertility Boosting Foods

The Fertile Dozen: 12 Fertility Boosting Foods

Clean whole foods are foundational in any health-promoting diet, particularly The Fertility Diet. The foods we eat provide nutrients that protect our cells and the integrity of our DNA. This form of protection becomes more and more important as we age, due to years and years of being exposed to toxins, xenohormones, and free radicals that are harmful to fertility health, specifically to eggs and sperm.

You’ve very likely heard about The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen foods, right? These are foods that are either best purchased organic or that don’t need to be organic. Well, to play off of that idea, we want to share with you the 12 fertility-boosting foods that you really should include in your Fertility Diet. Be sure to eat The Fertile Dozen and let me share with you why.

1. Apples – Apples are a favorite! They are low on the glycemic index to help encourage healthy blood sugar balance and are low-calorie and high in fiber, which is important for helping the body naturally detoxify excess estrogen that adversely affects fertility. For the full health benefits, eat the skins, as 2/3rds of the fruit’s fiber is in its skin. Buy organic!

2. Brazil nuts – Brazil nuts are most known for their selenium content, but also offer zinc and L-Carnitine. Zinc benefits immune health, as well as male fertility and sperm health as do selenium and L-Carnitine. Selenium, in particular, is necessary for proper sperm formation. Eat 2-3 raw Brazil nuts a day. It’s that easy!

3. Broccoli – Broccoli is another favorite! It is rich in phytonutrients and compounds like DIM and fiber, that help the body to get rid of excess estrogen. Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and kale are other cruciferous vegetables that help the body do this too. Organic is not necessary.

4. Hemp Seeds – Hemp Seeds (hemp hearts) are an excellent, popular source of essential fatty acids (EFAs); just 3 Tablespoons = 3,000mg omega-3 EFAs. They also contain omega-6, gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and naturally contain all 20 amino acids, nine of which the human body cannot produce on its own. Hemp seeds are rich in protein and fiber. PS. Hemp seeds do NOT cause psychotropic reactions like smoking Cannabis does. Choose US or Canadian-grown hemp seeds (not those grown in China).

5. Lentils – Lentils are an inexpensive iron-, fiber- and protein-rich legume known as a pulse. Lentils are a fertility-friendly food because they are rich in folate. One cup of cooked lentils provides 90% of your daily folate needs. These don’t have to be organic.

6. Papaya – Papaya is an excellent source of antioxidants like vitamin E (to protect our egg and sperm DNA integrity). It is also rich in carotenes (vitamin A), vitamin C, folic acid, potassium, and dietary fiber. It is a low glycemic index fruit to support healthy insulin levels instrumental in healthy hormonal balance. Papaya contains the digestive enzyme papain that acts as a pain reliever, blood thinner/anticoagulant, and an anti-inflammatory agent; all of these are supportive of painful or inflammatory fertility health conditions. It may boost immune system health as well. Papayas do not need to be purchased organic.

7. Raspberries – Raspberries are high in antioxidants that protect the body from free radical damage. Berries are believed to be protective of uterine tissues and supportive of egg and sperm DNA. They are also a low glycemic food and are rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Fun Fact: Red Raspberry leaves are one of the most well-known uterine tonic herbs. Organic berries of all kinds are best!

8. Spinach – Spinach is a must for everyone’s Fertility Diet. It is one of the most nutritious superfoods on the planet; packed with the antioxidant vitamins K, A, C, and E, vitamins B2 and B6, manganese, folate, magnesium, iron, calcium, potassium, dietary fiber, copper, protein, phosphorus, and zinc. Spinach is also a good source of omega-3 EFAs, niacin, and selenium. Always choose organic, or grow your own (it easily grows in pots)!

9. Spices – Spices like turmeric, ginger and cayenne promote circulation throughout the body and are herbal anti-inflammatories and analgesics.

  • Turmeric (Curcuma longa) is a powerful antioxidant that can help the body regulate menstrual bleeding and is liver protecting.
  • Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) helps support normal detoxification and proper digestion and soothes the stomach.
  • Cayenne (Capsicum annuum) has the powerful ability to warm the body, helping the body clear colds, soothe achy joints and slow bleeding.

Each of these are Womb Warming Herbs, just add a few pinches of the herbs of your choice to healthy drinks or recipes; they’re spicy! They do not need to be organic.

10. Swiss Chard – Swiss chard is an antioxidant- and fiber-rich dark green leafy vegetable rich in iron, folate, vitamins B6 and E, helping the body to have a healthy inflammatory response. Choose organic!

11. Walnuts – Walnuts are an easy source of omega-3 EFAs that are needed for healthy hormone production, as well as healthy brain development for your growing baby. Just 1/4 cup of raw walnuts contains about 2,270 mg of omega-3s! Always purchase raw walnuts, as heat damages the essential fatty acids.

12. Whole grains – Whole grains, ones that are still in their original form and not processed, are wonderful sources of antioxidants, copper, manganese, B vitamins and iron and, perhaps most important, soluble fiber, which helps to reduce cholesterol and supports healthy elimination and blood sugar regulation, while boosting the immune system. They are also anti-inflammatory. Try oatmeal (not quick-cooking or instant), quinoa, barley, buckwheat, spelt, millet and brown rice.

Each of these foods can be added to a variety of Fertility Smoothies or smoothie bowls, yogurt parfaits, or snacks, or try our 7 Fertility Superfoods Salad. Consider lightly steaming dark greens – broccoli, Swiss chard and spinach to enhance the bioavailability of the nutrients they offer.

If you have a favorite recipe that contains one of The Fertile Dozen, feel free to share it in detail below. For recipe inspiration and ways to use these foods, consider the:
21 Day Fertility Diet Challenge
10 Day Fertility Smoothie Challenge
Cooking For Fertility Cookbook

Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN
Dr. Christine Traxler M.D., OB/GYN

Dr. Traxler is a University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist, working with patients in Minnesota for over 20 years. She is a professional medical writer; having authored multiple books on pregnancy and childbirth; textbooks and coursework for medical students and other healthcare providers; and has written over 1000 articles on medical, health, and wellness topics.  Dr. Traxler attended the University of Minnesota College of Biological Sciences and University of Minnesota Medical School,  earning a degree in biochemistry with summa cum laude honors in 1981,  and receiving her Medical Doctorate degree (MD) in 1986.

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