Fertility buffet: Foods to help conceive

Changing your diet and your lifestyle can have a huge impact on your fertility levels

Dr Margaret Rayman, director of the MSc course in Nutritional Medicine at the University of Surrey, has put together a ‘Fertility Buffet’ which claims to enhance the chance of conceiving by up to 80 per cent.


Eating foods that contain certain vitamins can make a substantial difference when trying to conceive and also help once you’re pregnant with your developing baby.

The food of fertility

Looking at which foods contain certain vitamins can help in the understanding of what our bodies need whilst trying to conceive — and giving a little helping hand along the way.

Zinc — helps to transform idle sickly sperm into powerful swimmers.

Found in — Oysters are one of the best sources of Zinc but they are not always in season so try toasted wheat germ, veal liver, sesame seeds and tahini (sesame butter), low fat roast beef, roasted pumpkin and squash seeds, dried watermelon seeds, dark chocolate and cocoa powder, lamb (mutton) and peanuts.

Vitamin C — helps to enhance sperm quality and stops sperm from clumping together.

You'll find high levels of vitamin C in red berries, kiwi, red and green bell peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and juices made from guava, grapefruit, and orange)

Phyto-Oestrogens — helps to stabilise a woman’s oestrogen levels.

Fat cells make Oestrogen, so overweight woman may have excess levels of Oestrogen which can inhibit production of the follicle stimulating hormone.

Found in — soybeans, tofu, tempah, soy beverages, linseed (flax), sesame seeds, wheatberries, oats, barley, dried beans, lentils, yams, rice, alfalfa, mung beans, apples, carrots, pomegranates, wheat germ, rice bran, soy linseed bread, ginseng, hops, bourbon beer, fennel and anise.

Vitamin E — increases fertility when given to both men and woman.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps protect cells from damage. It is also important for the health of red blood cells.

Vitamin E is found in many foods, such as vegetable oils, nuts, and green leafy vegetables. Avocados, wheat germ, and whole grains are also good sources.

Folic Acid — helps protect the developing baby against Spina Bifida, a birth defect in which the backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth.

Folic acid can be found in — Liver, dried beans and other legumes, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, and orange juice are good sources of this vitamin. So are fortified bread, rice, and cereals.

Vitamin A — aids healthy reproduction and libido.

Found in-milk, eggs, liver, fortified cereals, darkly coloured orange or green vegetables such as carrots or sweet potatoes, orange fruits such as cantaloupe, apricots, peaches, papayas, and mangos) Oysters are one of the best sources of Zinc but they are not always in season.

Most of us agree it would be hard to put together all these foods to provide the right kind of healthy and balanced diet to help with fertility. Luckily, Dr Margaret Rayman has put together a ‘Fertlity Buffet’ to illustrate how easy (and delicious) it is to combine these healthy foods into your everyday diet.

Fertility buffet

  • Blinis topped with smoked salmon and horseradish
  • Crostini's topped with pesto and roasted red peppers
  • Sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seed and Brazil nut bread
  • Extra virgin olive oil with parmesan for dipping
  • Platters
  • A selection of cold & cured meats
  • A selection of fish goujons, mini crab cakes with sweet chilli dip & Calamari
  • Goats cheese, thyme and tomato tart
  • Salads
  • Cucumber, fennel, celery & chicory salad
  • A pasta salad with shredded watercress baby spinach & pesto
  • Sliced beef tomatoes with a basil dressing
  • Fruit Kebabs
  • Dacquoise, a delicate combination of almond meringue with cream and an apricot coulis
  • Rich Chocolate Mousse
  • A selection of European cheeses & biscuits (a cheese platter is especially good for Vit A and Zinc)
  • Chocolate Brazil nuts

What to avoid whilst trying to conceive.

While the above foods are all things you should aim to be eating whilst trying to conceive, there are, of course, several that are best avoided to try and make conceiving that little bit easier. Try and avoid excess vitamin A, found in liver products and cut out any supplements containing this vitamin or fish liver oil; of course you do need some vitamin A, but excess could hinder your fertility.

The main things to avoid are predominantly;

Alcohol — can reduce both male and female fertility, causing a decrease in sperm count in men and in woman, it can stop her ovulating or decrease egg quality.

Caffeine — also decreases fertility in both men and woman. Abnormalities in sperm increase with the number of cups of coffee you drink a day.

Cigarettes and drugs — It’s best to avoid these substances while you are trying to get pregnant and throughout your pregnancy. If you smoke, then giving up will help your chances of having a happy pregnancy and a healthy baby. It’s very important that your partner cuts down on these substances (and ideally, stops taking them altogether) while you are trying to get pregnant. Cigarettes, illegal drugs and alcohol all have an adverse affect on the quality of sperm.


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