With an emphasis on fruits, vegetables, and legumes, the Mediterranean diet has long been applauded for its multiple health benefits.
In a study from Monash University and elsewhere, scientists found that it may also help overcome infertility, making it a non-intrusive and affordable strategy for couples trying to conceive.
The review found that the Mediterranean diet can improve fertility, assisted reproductive technology success, and sperm quality in men.
Specifically, the researchers found that the anti-inflammatory properties of a Mediterranean diet can improve couples’ chances of conception.
Infertility is a global health concern affecting 48 million couples and 186 million individuals worldwide.
The team says modifying preconception nutrition is a non-invasive and potentially effective means for improving fertility outcomes.
Research shows inflammation can affect fertility for both men and women, affecting sperm quality, menstrual cycles, and implantation.
In this study, the team examined how a diet that reduces inflammation—such as the Mediterranean diet—might improve fertility outcomes.
They found consistent evidence that by adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet that includes lots of polyunsaturated or ‘healthy’ fats, flavonoids (such as leafy green vegetables), and a limited amount of red and processed meat—we can improve fertility.
The Mediterranean diet is primarily plant-based and includes whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices.
Yogurt, cheese, and lean protein sources such as fish, chicken, or eggs; red and processed meats are only eaten in small amounts.
In comparison, a western diet comprises excessive saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and animal proteins, making it energy-dense and lacking dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
Typically, a western diet is associated with higher levels of inflammation.
The team says understanding the association between anti-inflammatory diets such as the Mediterranean diet, and fertility, could be a game-changer for couples hoping to start a family.
If you care about nutrition, please read studies about how the Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health and the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease.
For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.
The study was conducted by Dr. Evangeline Mantzioris et al and published in the journal Nutrients.
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