A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and low in red meat may help to improve fertility success rates in women seeking in vitro fertilization (IVF), new research finds.
The study, published in the journal Human Reproduction, found that women undergoing IVF, increased their success rate by nearly 70 percent if they ate a predominantly plant-based diet in the six months leading up to the procedure.
Researchers looked at overall dietary habits rather than specific nutrients in 244 women via a comprehensive questionnaire.
For women who indicated eating habits most similar to the Mediterranean diet, the success rate of pregnancy was significantly higher than in the group that ate more meat. The Mediterranean diet emphasizes whole unprocessed foods and healthy fats such as olive oil.
“The important message from our study is that women attempting fertility should be encouraged to eat a healthy diet, such as the Mediterranean diet, because greater adherence to this healthy dietary pattern may help increase the chances of successful pregnancy and delivering a live baby,” lead research Nikos Professor Yiannakourisat the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Harokopio University of Athens said in a statement.
The researchers also noted the importance for men in considering the foods they eat prior to attempting a pregnancy. “It should be noted that when it comes to conceiving a baby, diet and lifestyle are just as important for men as for women. Previous work from our research group among the male partners of our study has suggested that adherence to the Mediterranean diet may also help improve semen quality. Taken together, these findings highlight the importance of dietary influences and diet quality on fertility, and support a favourable role for the Mediterranean diet on assisted reproduction performance.”