A recent Spanish study seems to back up another potential health benefit to the much-touted Mediterranean diet: Improved fertility. The research, which appeared in the journal Fertility and Sterility, looked at nearly 500 Spanish women ages 20 to 45 who’d been having trouble getting pregnant and compared their diets with those of almost 1,700 women who had at least one child. They put each of the women’s diets into one of two categories – a “Western diet” (one dominated by red meat, fast food, whole-fat dairy products, baked goods, white potatoes, eggs, refined grains and soda) and a “Mediterranean diet” (which had plenty of vegetables, fish, fruits, poultry, low-fat dairy products, and olive oil).
The researchers found that the women who most often ate the Mediterranean diet were less likely to be at risk for difficulty conceiving compared to the women who ate a Mediterranean diet less often. Eating a Western diet, though, did not show any link to more ease or more difficulty conceiving. It could be that eating a Mediterranean diet “may enhance fertility,” wrote the researchers, but more research is needed and it’s likely a step too far to say the diet will get you pregnant, but it may help, both for overall health and as you grow your family.
And though many of us associate Mediterranean living with a nice glass of red wine, this study did see a link between alcoholic drinks and difficulty getting pregnant – another indication that it may be worthwhile to keep drinking in check or cut it out while you're TTC. The study authors also noted some other interesting research from 2007: “A diet…defined by…high monounsaturated trans fatty acid intake, the consumption of vegetables rather than meat as a protein source, low glycemic carbohydrates, whole-fat dairy products, multivitamins, and iron from plants and supplements. [The researchers] found that this fertility diet was associated with a 69% lower risk of ovulatory disorder infertility.”