The Nurses' Health Study looked for connections between dietary fats and fertility from a number of different angles. Among the 18,555 women in the study, the total amount of fat, cholesterol, saturated fat, or monounsaturated fats in the diet wasn't connected with ovulatory infertility.
What they did find, however, was the largest decline in fertility in women who ate trans fats. Trans fats are artificial fats that cause damage to cells and contribute to inflammation and disease. Findings from the Nurses' Health Study indicate that trans fats are a powerful deterrent to ovulation and conception. Eating less of this artificial fat can improve fertility and can also mean an increase in healthful unsaturated fats, which can boost fertility even further. The largest decline in fertility among the nurses was seen when trans fats were eaten instead of monounsaturated fats.
What are trans fats?
Trans fats are synthetic fats made by hydrogenation of oils. Trans fats cause inflammation in the body, thus decreasing immune function and increasing plaque build up in the arteries. The National Academy of Sciences recommends that there is no safe level of trans fats, however the average North American consumes approximately 22 gm of trans fats each day through processed, packaged foods and fast food restaurants. You can minimize your intake of trans fats by avoiding foods with hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats or shortening on the list of ingredients and minimizing your intake of fast and processed foods.
What are monounsaturated fats?
Monounsaturated fats are associated with promoting healthy cardiovascular function. They are found in natural foods such as olive oil, nuts and seeds and their butters as well as avocados.
Fertility Diet Recommendation:
Choose oils that are cold-pressed, virgin and or UNREFINED from the plants or seeds that they originate. The process preserves/protects the nutritional value of the oil without using high heat and/or adding harsh chemicals . Be aware of oils that are industrially processed & chemically treated to extract the oils from seeds. The result is less exposure to free radicals/toxins and less damage to cellular metabolism. *Avoid using the term expeller-pressed, as it still designates that the oil has been industrially processed or expeller-pressed using friction heat is damaged. All unsaturated seeds are VERY fragile and easily damaged by heat (anything over 35 degrees), light, and O2.
Use these Oils for Dressings or Garnishes (Cold use only);
- Cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
- Unrefined sesame Oil
- Cold-pressed flaxseed or hempseed Oil
- Unrefined or cold-pressed black currant, avocado or hazelnut.
Include Omega-3 Fats (small amount with each meal);
- Deep sea short lived fish (such as mackerel, sardines, salmon, and halibut)
- Hempseeds, hempseed butter or hemp oil
- Olives or cold-pressed olive oil
- Flaxseed meal or flax seed oil
- Salba seeds.
What is Salba?
Salba is an ancient grain belonging to the mint family called Chia. It is an excellent whole food source of omega-3, fibre and protein. For optimum nutritional benefits, grind Salba before using. Salba is best freshly ground sprinkled on fresh food or cooked in baked goods like muffins, pancakes and cookies.
You can eat small amounts of saturated fats from pasture raised meat. Studies have shown that exclusively grass fed animals have significant levels of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Orgnaic butter is another healthful fat.
Margarine is not recommended. Even if the margarine is made with "good oils" and is non-hydrogenated, it tends to have artificial ingredients. Nut and seed butters are excellent as well as nutritious spreads such as hummus, pesto and tapenade.
Avoid buying foods containing hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats, shortening, or that have mono or diglycerides on the list of ingredients. Remember -- the most important element of the Fertility Diet is to eat WHOLE foods. One way you know you are eating a whole food is that it does not have a list of ingredients!