Infertility can be a very stressful process as I have seen firsthand in my practice, but the food you eat can be very supportive of your fertility and one aspect of the process that you can control.The main focus when it comes to food should be on whole and real nourishing foods and not on overly restrictive eating plans and detoxes. The emphasis should be on eating vitamin and mineral-rich foods in order to ensure your body has all the nutrients necessary for fertility and pregnancy. While nutrition can't solve every case of infertility, it can solve some and be very supportive of your wish to get pregnant. Include these beneficial fertility-friendly foods:

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Eggs are rich in protein and contain beneficial nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin D, and choline. While many women avoid eggs or eat egg whites instead of whole eggs in order to avoid the cholesterol in the yolks, this practice is misguided, as all of the nutrients in eggs are within the yolk. Vitamin A is essential for reproduction, and choline may help prevent neural tube defects during pregnancy.

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Kale and other cruciferous vegetables contain indole-3-carbinol, a phytonutrient that may have beneficial effects on estrogen balance. In addition, kale is a great source of folate, which is essential for preventing neural tube defects. Kale also contains vitamin C, a potent antioxidant, important for protecting eggs and sperm from free radical damage. Other cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and arugula. Kale and the other fibrous vegetables in this family are best eaten cooked for better digestion and absorption.

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Carbohydrates should come from foods with a low glycemic index, like legumes, fruits and vegetables, and limited dairy. I recommend keeping starch or grain portions to about 1/2 cup serving or less at meals, as starches and grains tend to cause bigger spikes in blood sugar levels. Keep sweets and foods with added sugar to a minimum. Sugar can be a contributor to weight gain and PCOS, both of which can contribute to infertility through hormone imbalances.

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The fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are found within fat in foods, so if you eat a very low-fat diet, it can be difficult to get enough of these important vitamins. Many women are vitamin D deficient, and research indicates that correcting vitamin D deficiency may help improve menstrual cycle regularity in women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), a major cause of infertility. Higher blood levels of vitamin D also may help improve pregnancy rates in women undergoing fertility treatments. Examples of healthy fats include olive oil or coconut oil, avocados, and nuts and seeds, especially vitamin E-rich sunflower seeds and almonds.

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While many women are advised to avoid fish, fish has many benefits for those trying to conceive, thanks to its omega-3 fatty acids. It's just important to stick to the lowest mercury fish, and limit consumption to 12 ounces per week. Higher intakes of omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to better egg and sperm quality and have anti-inflammatory properties that may be helpful in inflammatory conditions like PCOS. Low-mercury fish include wild salmon, whitefish, sardines, and herring.


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