For those who are planning, or currently trying, to conceive, a nutrient-rich diet is critical for ensuring optimal fertility, and growing a healthy baby. Our food of choice for a healthy prenatal and pregnancy diet? Seafood. Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, particularly in salmon and albacore tuna, are essential for a baby’s developing brain and eyes. These omega-3s, DHA and EPA, also are important pre-pregnancy. Research has shown that a diet rich in omega-3s can help negate the adverse effects of a diet rich in omega-6s, the fatty acids that cause inflammation, particularly for women who have chronic inflammation-related fertility issues, like PCOS or endometriosis. A recent study showed promising findings that higher intakes of omega-3s in women approaching menopause may extend reproductive lifespan by impacting follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) levels. And, the benefits of increasing omega-3 fatty acids may not stop at mom. Studies have shown that high concentrations of DHA in sperm may help to promote viability and motility of sperm cells. DHA and EPA are essential fatty acids that are not produced by the body, which means we must consume them in our diet. In addition to being a rich source of DHA and EPA, seafood is also a complete protein. Higher-protein, lower-carbohydrate diets have been associated with higher pregnancy rates.
Even after giving birth, consuming seafood dishes on a regular basis can continue to benefit mothers and their children. Whether you are planning to conceive, just found out you’re expecting, or have already welcomed your little one, you should adjust your diet to incorporate seafood 2-3 times per week, per the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The only species of seafood you should avoid are shark, swordfish, tilefish and king mackerel.
Need some seafood recipe inspiration? Try adding some of these delicious dishes to your table:
- Almond-Crusted Salmon Nuggets
- Greek Tuna Wraps
- Mediterranean Tuna Salad with a Zesty Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette