When it comes to fertility and pregnancy, many factors come into play for these major stages of life to be healthy and successful.
“Of course, genetic predispositions and other lifestyle factors play a major part,” begins nutrition/diet research scientist Nicole Avena, PhD, “but never underestimate the value of eating a healthy, nutritious diet.
”After all, she continues, “A properly nourished body is a body that’s more likely to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term.”
Adapted from her new book, What to Eat When You Want to Get Pregnant, this list includes some of the best foods hopeful parents-to-be should eat from the transition to having babies on the brain to one in your belly.
Be sure to add these fertility-friendly foods to your shopping cart, both when you’re trying to get pregnant and throughout pregnancy.
For the record, fathers can benefit from eating these foods, too!
Not only are avocados trendy and flavorful, but they’re also a top food for fertility and pregnancy.
“Avocado is an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids that can help to reduce risk of heart disease and bad cholesterol,” Dr. Avena shares.
Further, avocado is a good source of the following nutrients:
Chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans) are a fiber-rich source of plant-based protein. Dr. Avena adds that they’re “full of nutrients like iron, potassium, and selenium.”
She particularly notes that iron is an essential nutrient for pregnancy: “Nutrient deficiencies in iron (and vitamin D) have been associated with serious pregnancy complications,” she cautions. For that reason, iron-rich foods such as chickpeas should be on any pregnancy food list.
Further, she adds, selenium “boosts fertility and is beneficial during pregnancy, as well.”
Then, chickpeas also contain vitamin B6, which Dr. Avena says has been shown to support fertility in women who have a compromised history in this department.
Dr. Avena recommends canned tuna for its:
However, she cautions that you should purchase light canned tuna, rather than albacore tuna. If you prefer the latter, she advises that expectant mothers consume it once weekly at most.
Again, if you enjoy fish and are trying to conceive or are pregnant, you’re in luck.
Salmon is a rich source of:
omega-3 fatty acids (“essential for brain and nervous system function”)
Another benefit of salmon is that it’s “especially low in mercury, which is very important if you are pregnant or trying to get pregnant,” Dr. Avena shares.
Lastly, spinach rounds out our list of the top foods to eat for a healthy pregnancy.
Dr. Avena lauds its micronutrient profile, as it packs:
Then, she says that spinach is a good source of nitrates — which comes with an important caveat.
“You might have heard that nitrates are bad for you, but that’s only when they’re added to foods to preserve them,” she explains. However, when they’re naturally occurring “in foods like spinach and other vegetables, they’re quite healthy.”
For those unfamiliar, nitrates are a phytochemical that can benefit all — including expectant parents — as it “helps to reduce blood pressure and regulates oxygen usage in our muscles,” Dr. Avena shares.
For Dr. Avena’s full list of the best foods for fertility and pregnancy — as well as other essential information for hopeful parents — be sure to check out her latest book, What to Eat When You Want to Get Pregnant.
Michele Ross is a freelance writer and copy editor based in Los Angeles. Clean skincare and hiking make her heart happy.