Women who want to increase their chances of falling pregnant should eat a Mediterranean-style diet with plenty of mono-unsaturated fat, a new US study has found.
Researchers from the Harvard University's School of Public Health found that eating foods such as avocado, olive oil and nuts could triple the chance of women falling pregnant while using fertility treatments. And the researchers believe it could also help women trying to get pregnant naturally as well.
But women who ate a diet high in saturated fat, found in fatty cuts of meat and takeaway foods, had two fewer eggs suitable for IVF transfer than those whose diets were low in saturated fat.
The researchers presented their findings at the annual meeting of the European Society for Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Istanbul.
They analysed the fat intake of 147 women who went through IVF treatment, who were mostly aged in their thirties.
The women who got 25 percent of their kilojoules from monounsaturated fat were three times as likely to give birth to a healthy baby than those who only got 9 percent of their kilojoules from these "good fats".
"As far as the best fat profile is concerned, this is the fat profile that you would find in a Mediterranean diet," researcher Professor Jorge Chavarro said.
They also found women with a high polyunsaturated fat intake had poorer quality eggs. Professor Chavarro said there numerous types of polyunsaturated fats; some of which hinder fertility, others that could boost it.
Most of the women in the study ate omega-6 polyunsaturates, found in margarine and vegetable oils. But omega-3 polyunsaturates found in oily fish, should not impact fertility, so women should continue eating them.
"We were not entirely surprised that different types of fat were associated with different outcomes," Professor Chavarro said.
"Different types of fat are known to have different effects on biological processes, which may influence the outcome of assisted reproduction; such as underlying levels of inflammation or insulin sensitivity. However, it is not clear at this moment which biological mechanisms underlie the associations we found."
Professor Chavarro said this is the first time dietary fats have been linked to IVF success rates.
"It is important that our results are replicated in other studies before making strong recommendations about fat intake to women having infertility treatment," he said.
But he said it's not a bad idea for women to increase their monounsaturated fat intake if they want to fall pregnant.
"Even though we don't know for sure if it will be of benefit, we do know it won't be harmful," he said.