The Mediterranean Diet Can Improve Reproductive Health

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New Research Supports Link Between Mediterranean Diet And Fertility

Mediterranean Diet And Fertility
Mediterranean Diet And Fertility

New research has linked adherence to The Mediterranean Diet – with its emphasis on fruits, vegetables and legumes, with improved fertility.


  • New study links Mediterranean Diet With Improved Fertility
  • Findings suggest anti-inflammatory properties of Diet key to fertility benefits
  • Modifying your diet to follow Mediterranean eating patterns is affordable and non-intrusive
  • Previous research links Extra Virgin Olive Oil with benefits to pregnant women

According to a new study, reported in, research shows that The Mediterranean Diet can help overcome infertility, making it a non-intrusive and affordable strategy for couples trying to conceive.

The study, carried out by Monash University, the University of the Sunshine Coast, and the University of South Australia, found that the Mediterranean diet can improve fertility, assisted reproductive technology (ART) success, and sperm quality in men.

Specifically, researchers identified that the anti-inflammatory properties of a Mediterranean diet can improve couples’ chances of conception.

UniSA researcher, Dr Evangeline Mantzioris, says modifying preconception nutrition is a non-invasive and potentially effective means for improving fertility outcomes.

“Deciding to have a baby is one of life’s biggest decisions, but if things don’t go as planned, it can be very stressful for both partners,” Dr Mantzioris says.

“Research shows inflammation can affect fertility for both men and women, affecting sperm quality, menstrual cycles, and implantation. So, in this study we wanted to see how a diet that reduces inflammation – such as the Mediterranean diet – might improve fertility outcomes.

“Encouragingly, we found consistent evidence that by adhering to an anti-inflammatory diet – one that includes lots of polyunsaturated or ‘healthy’ fats, flavonoids (such as leafy green vegetables), and a limited amount of red and processed meat – we can improve fertility.”

What Is The Mediterranean Diet?

What Is The Mediterranean Diet
What Is The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is primarily plant-based, and includes whole grains, extra virgin olive oil, fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts, herbs, and spices. It also includes yoghurt, cheese, and lean protein sources such as fish, chicken, or eggs but – crucially – red and processed meats are only eaten sparingly.

This is a marked contrast to the common western diet which often includes excessive saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, and animal proteins, making it energy-dense and lacking dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Typically, a western diet is associated with higher levels of inflammation.

Monash University researcher, Simon Alesi, says that this link between the anti-inflammatory effects of The Mediterranean Diet and improved fertility could be vital for those looking to start a family.

“The Mediterranean diet is consistently ranked among the healthiest diets in the world. But knowing that it may also boost your chances of conceiving and having a baby is extremely promising,” Alesi says.

“Modifying your diet is a non-intrusive and affordable strategy that could potentially improve infertility.

“Of course, more research needs to be done, but at the very least, shifting to a Mediterranean diet will not only improve your overall health, but also your chances of conceiving.”

Extra Virgin Olive Oil And Reproductive Health: What The Experts Think

Countless studies support the benefits of maintaining a healthy diet throughout pregnancy but did you know that a vast body of research suggests The Mediterranean Diet can help with fertility and conception?

In fact, The Mediterranean Diet – with its emphasis on vegetables, grains, fish and healthy fats such as the best quality extra virgin olive oil – can help with all stages of reproductive health from conception to pregnancy and beyond.

Dietician and Blogger Melanie McGrice Extra Virgin Olive Oil is low in bad saturated fats, rich in antioxidants and rich in vitamin E, it contains some omega 3 fats and has a high proportion of monosaturated fats.

Fertility and pregnancy expert Emma Cannon agrees that good nutrition is of vital importance in improve your chances of conception.

Emma said: “There is increasing evidence that fertility can be improved through good nutrition; of particular note are omega-3, antioxidants and plant sources of protein.”

Benefits Of Extra Virgin Olive Oil For Pregnant Women

A recent study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that the children of mothers who eat a diet rich in inflammatory foods including sugars, artificial trans fats and processed meats will experience greater weight gain between the ages of three and ten years.

The findings of this latest research add weight to previous understanding that weight gain problems may begin in pregnancy as pathways that program metabolism and patterns of eating are sensitive to in utero influences.

Among the recommendations from the research team is that pregnant women consider a Mediterranean Diet, high in plant-based foods, including extra virgin olive oil, fish and unsaturated fats to benefit both mother and child’s health. These foods provide important sources of vitamin D, omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, and other nutrients that have been shown to be beneficial for offspring health.

In their study, Author Carmen Monthé-Drèze and colleagues analysed data on 1,459 mother-child pairs collected by Project Viva — an ongoing study into maternal and child health being conducted at the Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute in Massachusetts.

During their respective pregnancies, each mother was asked to complete questionnaires on their dietary intake, which the researchers interpreted through the lens of three different dietary indices. These included the Dietary Inflammatory Index, the Mediterranean diet score, and the Alternate Healthy Eating Index for Pregnancy.

After giving birth, each child was weighed and measured several times between birth and adolescence, from which body mass index (BMI) values were calculated. Finally, the researchers analysed how each mother’s dietary index scores were associated with their offspring’s growth trajectory.

“Maternal nutrition during pregnancy may have a long-term impact on children’s weight trajectories,” said Dr Monthé-Drèze. She added that the findings suggest “there are specific developmental periods when nutrition during pregnancy may influence offspring growth. We found that a pregnancy diet with higher inflammatory potential was associated with faster BMI growth rates in children between three and ten years of age.” She added “We also found that lower adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet during pregnancy was associated with higher BMI trajectories through adolescence.”

Researchers also revealed that, of those taking part in the study, mothers who more closely followed an anti-inflammatory diet including extra virgin olive oil, were also more likely to be well-educated, have a higher income, and less likely to smoke or have obesity themselves.  As reported in Insider, this is likely due to the fact that financial and social resources impact dietary health and consistent access to healthy food makes a difference in preventing obesity.