Why You Should Add This Fertility-Friendly Seed to Your TTC Diet
By Claire Virga (RD, MS, CDN)
Packed with healthy fats, fiber, and micronutrients, nuts and seeds are some of the most nutritious foods for fertility and overall health. Hemp seeds in particular are a fertility super seed! So what makes hemp seeds so special and why should you be including them in your diet while trying to conceive? Read on!
Hemp seeds are small but mighty! Just three tablespoons contain about 10 grams of protein. Research shows that women who eat more animal protein are at greater risk for infertility, and the reverse is also true — women who eat more plant-based protein are less likely to struggle with infertility. Boost the protein content of your plant-based meals by adding hemp hearts to oatmeal, toast, smoothies and salads.
Hemp seeds are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. Studies show that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may improve egg maturation and quality while also increasing the likelihood of embryo implantation. Research also shows that a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids may delay ovarian aging and prolong the female reproductive lifespan!
Consuming adequate iron is important for many processes within the body, including reproductive health. Hemp seeds are a great source of non-heme iron, a type of iron found primarily in plant-based sources. Research shows that women who consume iron supplements and non-heme iron from other sources have a reduced risk for ovulatory infertility. Interestingly, this same study found no association between intake of heme iron, or the type of iron found in animal-based foods, and improved fertility.
In addition to hemp seeds, it’s a good idea to include other great sources of non-heme iron on your plate like beans, lentils, and spinach.
Two tablespoons of hemp seeds contain 23% of your daily zinc needs. A zinc deficiency during the preconception period may prevent proper egg development as well as sperm formation. Both men and women should regularly eat zinc-rich foods while trying to conceive. Other good sources of zinc include meat, shellfish, nuts and seeds, legumes, eggs, and whole grains.
It is suspected that high levels of inflammation within the body are the main cause of unexplained infertility as well as infertility related to endometriosis and PCOS. To counteract inflammation, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, or one that is rich in antioxidants is key. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant found in hemp seeds that reduces inflammation within the body and helps to protect both egg and sperm quality.
The Bottom Line
Eating nuts and seeds is a great way to naturally boost fertility. I recommend including about ¼ a cup of nuts and seeds on a daily basis to reap the fertility-boosting benefits. It’s best to eat a wide variety of nuts and seeds, including hemp seeds, to get all of the different benefits that these nutritional powerhouses hold.
Here are some of my favorite ways for getting my nuts and seeds in:
- Eat a handful of nuts as a snack -- they’ve got a combination of fiber, protein, and healthy fat making them a great standalone, nutritious snack
- Sprinkle seeds on top of your oatmeal, toast, smoothies, and salads for crunch and an added nutrient boost
- Dip fruit like apples and bananas in your favorite nut butter
- Get creative in the kitchen - use pistachios to crust salmon, make a pesto sauce with pine nuts or walnuts, or use a cashew sauce in place of heavy cream
Interesting in trying hemp seeds?
Eaton Hemp is a farmer-owned hemp company in Upstate NY, offering nutritious and delicious, farm-to-table USDA Certified Organic hemp food products. Not only are their hemp hearts and seeds a tasty addition to just about anything, but hemp is also said to be "nature's most nutrient-dense superfood” and is full of Omega 3's to support fertility. For a limited time, you can save 20% on all Eaton Hemp products, including our favorite Maple cinnamon toasted super seeds, using the code "fertilitytribe”!
Claire Virga (RD, MS, CDN) is a Registered Dietitian with Rooted Wellness, a private practice specializing in fertility nutrition.