In this article, I summarize two recent research studies on eating to get pregnant. One is about fertility and nutrition; the other is about foods that lower blood pressure.
Women who watch their weight and closely follow a Mediterranean-style diet high in vegetables, vegetable oils, fish and beans may increase their chance of becoming pregnant, according to dietitians at Loyola University Health System (LUHS).
“Establishing a healthy eating pattern and weight is a good first step for women who are looking to conceive,” said Brooke Schantz, MS, RD, CSSD, LDN, LUHS. “Not only will a healthy diet and lifestyle potentially help with fertility, but it also may influence fetal well-being and reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy.”
The 100 Healthiest Foods to Eat During Pregnancy: The Surprising Unbiased Truth about Foods You Should be Eating During Pregnancy but Probably Aren’t is an excellent resource on what to eat to get pregnant. It’s by Jonny Bowden and Allison Tannis, and is a great investment in your future baby!
Thirty percent of infertility is due to either being overweight or underweight, according to the National Infertility Association. Both of these extremes in weight cause shifts in hormones, which can affect ovulation. Reducing weight by even 5 percent can enhance fertility.
What to Eat to Get Pregnant
Schantz recommends the following additional nutrition tips for women who are looking to conceive:
- Reduce intake of foods with trans and saturated fats while increasing intake of monounsaturated fats, such as avocados and olive oil
- Lower intake of animal protein and add more vegetable protein to your diet
- Add more fiber to your diet by consuming whole grains, vegetables and fruit
- Incorporate more vegetarian sources of iron such as legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds and whole grains
- Consume high-fat dairy instead of low-fat dairy
- Take a regular women’s multivitamin
Approximately 40 percent of infertility issues are attributed to men, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Among them is low sperm count and poor sperm motility, which are common in overweight and obese men.
“Men who are looking to have a baby also have a responsibility to maintain a healthy body weight and consume a balanced diet, because male obesity may affect fertility by altering testosterone and other hormone levels,” Schantz said.
For more tips on what to eat to get pregnant, read Food and Fertility – The Effect of Carbs, Fats, Proteins, and Dairy.
Source: Infertility Problems? Here are Some Eating Tips to Boost Fertility via Loyola University.
Foods That Lower Blood Pressure
Another aspect of fertility is blood pressure; if you have high blood pressure, your pregnancy is riskier. These tips on lowering blood pressure are part of eating to get pregnant.
In the United States more than 77 million adults have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, which can cause heart disease and stroke. In the October issue of Food Technology magazine, Contributing Editor Linda Milo Ohr writes about six foods that have been shown in studies to have a beneficial effect on lowering blood pressure.
Grape Seed Extract. Results from a study of 32 pre-hypertensive adult subjects showed that a patented grape seed extract may help to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure after just eight weeks (Polyphenolics, 2013a). In another study, 36 pre-hypertensive adult subjects were either given a drink with a placebo or grape seed extract. The participants that consumed the grape seed extract experienced significant reductions in blood pressure compared to those who consumed the placebo (Polyphenolics, 2013b).
Nuts. A study (Katz et al, 2012) showed that 56 g of walnuts a day reduced systolic blood pressure and did not lead to weight gain. In another study (West et all 2012), 28 subjects with high cholesterol showed reductions in systolic blood pressure after one serving of pistachios a day.
Beetroot Juice. Beetroot juice contains dietary nitrate which may help relax blood vessel walls and improve blood flow. A study (American Heart Association, 2013) showed that a cup of beetroot juice a day may help lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Dairy Foods. While additional research is still being conducted, several studies have showed that a diet with more dairy and nuts, but less meat, is related to a lower risk of developing hypertension (Weng et al, 2013), and associated with having lower systolic blood pressure.
Raisins. During a 12-week study, researches gave 46 pre-hypertensive subjects raisins or other snacks equal in calorie value three times a day. At weeks four, eight and 12 weeks, subjects eating the raisins showed a significantly reduced systolic blood pressure (Bays et al, 2012).
Flaxseed. A study (Rodrigues et al, 2012) examined the effects of dietary flaxseed on systolic and diastolic blood pressure in subjects with narrowed arteries (peripheral artery disease). After six months of 30g of milled flaxseed a day, both systolic and diastolic blood pressure was lower.
The tips are from from a news release called Battling Blood Pressure.
For more tips on what to eat to get pregnant, read What Not to Eat When You Want to Get Pregnant – From Soy to Salami.