Healthy Fats for Fertility
Fat was villainized for decades, and although we’re now accepting that eating fat does not make you fat, for many fit-focused women, loading up on higher fat foods can feel gluttonous.
Fats are a key component in a fertility diet, but you can probably guess that loading up on chocolate and doughnuts won’t do your hormones any favors. Plus, as fun as eating dessert for breakfast everyday sounds, in reality it’s not something you actually even want to do.
When I started seeing a reproductive endocrinologist about my lack of a period post-pill, he immediately noted my low body fat – and my endurance running – and told me my lack of estrogen and minimal uterine lining was tied to it. Gaining weight was something I knew I’d need to do, and I was willing to put on body fat to help my body carry a baby, but I didn’t want to completely ignore my health and gain it all from processed junk.
Luckily, there are plenty of healthy fats that can improve your egg quality and give your body the healthy hormone balance it needs to ovulate properly. Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve embryo quality in IVF patients, and they may have other fertility benefits (source). Here are the healthy fats you need, and ideas for how to easily incorporate them into your diet.
Who doesn’t love avocados? They are super easy to incorporate into meals, the only tough thing about avocados is finding that sweet spot when they’re ripe since they seem to turn super quickly.
- Using avocado as a spread in place of mayo
- Top burgers and sandwiches with avocado slices
- Add chunks of avocado to any salad (or make this one)
- Try Avocado toast for breakfast on the go or an afternoon snack
- Make avocado boats as a side or for breakfast
Full Fat Yogurt and Cheese
Personally, I’d give up chocolate before giving up cheese. However, if you’re sensitive to dairy, you can skip over this one because if it’s causing inflammation in your body, it’s doing more harm than good. If you love dairy, go for the full fat versions because, “Researchers found that women who ate two or more low-fat dairy products a day were nearly twice as likely to have trouble conceiving because of lack of ovulation than women who ate less than one serving of low fat dairy foods a week.” (source)
- Make a simple parfait with full fat yogurt, fresh or frozen (and defrosted) berries, agave if you like sweet, and nuts or low sugar granola
- Add a scoop of ricotta to scrambled eggs to make them extra creamy
- Stock up on pre-sliced full fat cheeses for a quick snack paired with nuts or place spinach on the inside and make a roll-up
- Use plain yogurt in place of sour cream as a topping
- Substitute plain yogurt for mayo in most recipes (like chicken salad)
Chia, Hemp, and Flax Seeds
- Opt for grocery items with these seeds added in (ex: Trader Joe’s has peanut butter with flax and chia seeds)
- Make a big batch of chia pudding to have on hand for a quick breakfast
- Mix in any of these to smoothies
- Buy seed crackers like these instead of Triscuits
- Add into baking using these guidelines
Walnuts, Almonds, Cashews, Brazil Nuts
The only thing to watch out for with nuts would be flavored varieties – honey roasted, toffee coated, smokehouse, etc. – which can add a ton of sodium and sugar that won’t help you. Keep in mind that while these are healthy fats, nuts are incredibly calorie dense so it can help to portion out instead of eating from an open jar. Here’s a handy reference for what a serving size of almonds look like:
- Pair with string cheese or an apple for a quick snack
- Use as a salad topper
- Bake with almond flour
- Add to yogurt or oatmeal for a crunch
- Toast sliced almonds and use as ice cream topper
- Make your own trail mix
- Try alternatives to peanut butter like almond butter, cashew butter, etc.
Pumpkin, Sunflower, Sesame Seeds
These seeds you can use much like the nuts, but here are a few more ideas:
- Add sunflower seeds to guacamole
- Roast with different spices like these
- Use when baking like these cookies
- Add sesame seeds to stir-frys, or top any sautéed veggies
Wild Caught Salmon
Salmon isn’t something you’ll quickly have for a snack, but fitting it in to one dinner recipe a week is a realistic way to work it into your diet. That, and ordering it when you’re dining out!
Pasture Raised, Organic Meats
My favorite place to get organic pasture raised meat is our local farmer’s market, but most grocery stores at least have an organic section. When there’s a sale, stock up and freeze what you can’t use right away.
- Have a weekly burger night (we got this as a White Elephant gift but it’s an awesome burger cookbook!)
- Get creative with chicken
- Try some of these delicious pork recipes
Eggs are an obvious choice for breakfast, but they can be so much more than a morning food! (Also, breakfast for dinner should not be knocked.)
- Whip up a quick frittata with whatever veggies you have in the fridge (here are some ideas)
- Hard-boil 6 or more eggs to have for the week for a quick snack
- Add hard-boiled eggs to salads
- Top burgers with a fried egg
- Make scrambled egg burritos (for breakfast OR dinner)
EVOO, Coconut Oil, Organic Butter, and Ghee
When cooking, opt for these oils and fats over vegetable, soybean, corn, and canola oils. Make your own salad dressing using olive oil!