For women who are with child, there’s an abundance of resources on foods to both avoid and incorporate into one’s diet to aid in a healthy pregnancy. But for women trying to get pregnant, the foods recommendations seem to be a bit more scarce. Choosing nutrient-rich foods for both men and women trying for a baby is a simple way to naturally improve fertility, though it’s worth noting that according to the American Pregnancy Association, it will take around three months to a year in order for changes in diet to truly take effect.
Don’t let this scare you off though – when it comes to trying for a baby, it’s never too late to get your diet on track for conception.
Here are some foods to get you started:
Beans: You’re probably aware of the importance of protein in a well-balanced diet as a whole, but did you know how crucial plant-based protein is when trying for a baby? One study from Harvard School of Public Health found that in one group of women actively trying to get pregnant, infertility was 39% more common in those women with the highest intake of animal protein. Another study showed that women who took high doses of iron supplements were 62% less likely to experience ovulatory infertility. So trade that hamburger for a lentil burger, and try to incorporate foods like lentils, garbanzo beans, or edamame into meals to ensure you’re getting plenty of non-animal proteins that will still boost your iron levels.
Leafy Greens: Another great way to incorporate iron into your diet is through consumption of leafy greens like spinach, arugula, kale, or chard. These foods are also high in folate, which is a B vitamin shown to improve a woman’s ovulation. Folate also helps to make healthier sperm, so be sure to make dinner a salad for two!
Walnuts: Who knew that eating nuts could lead to good nut-health? Walnuts are particularly good for a man’s sperm – it’s been shown that just ⅔ cup of these omega-3-packed kernels lead to an improvement in sperm vitality, motility, and morphology. And to top it off, these omega-3’s – combined with their polysaturated fats – assist in the production of hormones in men that aid in sperm production.
Olive Oil: This hearty oil is rich in monosaturated fats, which function as anti-inflammatory properties in the body. Since inflammation can interfere with ovulation and conception, it can help to incorporate olive oil into salads and cooking where you can. Some people even recommend drinking olive oil in order to fully reap the additional benefits of this superfood.
With these four seemingly diverse foods, you may be left wondering if there is a way to incorporate them all in one fell swoop – and fortunately, there is! From Oh She Glows blog, We’ve included a tasty and healthy recipe below that is not only good for your belly, but good for your baby-making organs too. Bon appetit!
The Best Shredded Kale Salad
FOR THE SALAD & DRESSING:
- 2 medium bunches destemmed Lacinato/dinosaur kale, finely chopped (8 cups chopped)
- 2 large garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, to taste
- 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (just eyeball it)
- 1-2 handfuls dried sweetened cranberries, for garnish
FOR THE PECAN PARMESAN:
- 1 cup pecan halves, toasted
- 1.5 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 pinches fine grain sea salt
- Preheat the oven to 300F. Spread the pecans onto a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8-10 minutes until fragrant and lightly golden.
- Remove the stems from the kale and discard (you can save for smoothies if you are hardcore!). Finely chop the kale leaves (the smaller, the better!).
- Wash the kale and spin dry. Place dried kale into a large bowl.
- For the dressing: In a mini food processor, process the garlic until minced. Now add the lemon, oil, salt, and pepper and process until combined. Adjust to taste, if desired. Pour the dressing onto the kale and mix it into the kale with your hands or toss with spoons. Keep mixing for about 1 minute to ensure everything is coated perfectly.
- For the pecan parm: Rinse out the mini processor and pat dry. Add the pecans into the processor and process until the pecans are the size of peas or a bit larger. Now add in the nutritional yeast, oil, and salt and process again until it’s a coarse crumb. Be sure not to over-process – we still want a nice crunchy texture here, not powder.
- Sprinkle the pecan Parmesan all over the salad. Toss on a handful or two of dried cranberries. Wrap and place in the fridge for 30-60 minutes to soften. I tried letting this salad sit overnight in the fridge and I greatly preferred the flavour of the salad served the day of, so I don’t recommend making this salad the day before and letting it sit in the fridge overnight.
1) Instead of a mini processor, you can chop/whisk the dressing and pecan “parmesan” by hand. 2) For a nut-free version, try using breadcrumbs instead of pecans.