Fertility Superfoods That Are Overrated (and What to Eat Instead)

Written by: Dr. Will Haas, MD, MBA

Edited by: Dr. Ashley Eskew, MD, MSCI

Last updated: August 17th, 2020

Is the pineapple an overrated fertility superfood?

Superfoods sound sexy, right? 

But when it comes to your fertility, some superfood can’t back up their hype. 

Does this mean you should stop eating them altogether? In some cases – yes! 

However, for other superfoods,  it may simply be that the food’s nutritional information doesn’t support the fertility boosting claims. 

What Is A Superfood?

The definition of a superfood is somewhat elusive given all the marketing buzz around the topic. 

But as we explain elsewhere, superfoods are best defined as any food with a high nutrient density that is also rich in phytonutrients and antioxidants. 

We realize that’s a pretty technical definition for one sentence, so we encourage you to check out our detailed description of superfoods for the full breakdown

To sum things up for now, a superfood is any food packed with nutrients that can enhance your health in some way. 

How To Spot Superfood Hype

Now that you have a better idea of how to define a superfood, it’s much easier to spot the hype. 

Of course you should always read the nutrition label if the food comes with one to find clues if a food lives up to its claims.

With that said, here are a few other ways to spot the potential for an overrated superfood:

Superfoods examples with tips on how to spot overrated superfoods

No scientific backing…

When you see bold claims being made without any scientific evidence backing them your B.S. radar should immediately go up. 

Of course this is not to say that a particular food isn’t healthy just because there haven’t been any studies performed on its consumption. But when a specific claim is being made (e.g., yams boost your odds of having twins), then it’s time be skeptical until proven otherwise. 

If there’s truly solid evidence to support a claim about the health properties of a food, then whoever is promoting the superfood shouldn’t have any issues presenting the science.

Animal studies for support…

There’s an important caveat when it comes to scientific evidence backing a superfood – be suspicious of claims being made from animal studies.

Sometimes the findings from animal studies go on to be true for humans, but more often than not things don’t pan out the same. 

Moral of the story – any old form of evidence is not necessarily good evidence. 

Celebrity endorsements… 

So many reasons why celebrity endorsements could lead you to eat all the wrong foods. 

How many celebrities do you know that stop and research things they endorse, especially things that are related to your health? 

And in today’s world of social media, celebrities take on a much different form. All too often, we see social media influencers who promote nutritional fads, including superfoods, with totally inaccurate claims and false information. 

And don’t even get us started on “the secret superfoods top celebrities eat to lose weight that your doctor doesn’t want you to know about…” 

Granted, not all doctors are well versed in nutrition, but if there was a food that could balance your hormones, drop 6 inches from your waste line, and keep your menstrual cycle normal, we doubt that most doctors would withhold that information. 

Okay, we think you get the point… Hopefully you are better prepared to cut through the noise the next time you encounter claims made about the extraordinary healing powers of uncommon foods.

The Most Overrated Fertility Superfoods

By now, you probably know that we are food lovers at OvulifeMD. So when we call out a particular superfood, it’s not to say that you shouldn’t eat it altogether. 

On the other hand, some foods that have been deemed fertility superfoods are simply overrated when it comes to your efforts to conceive.

Four overrated fertility superfoods to skip

Yams

Not to be confused with sweet potatoes, yams are native to Africa and Asia. They have an almost black bark-like skin and come in many different colors. 

Rumor suggests that the consumption of yams can result in the conception of twins. The correlation initially came about due to the unusually high twinning rate in a region of south-western Nigeria where yam consumption is particularly high. 

Other claims have also been made that yams contain phytoestrogens as well as a natural form of progesterone (dioscin).  

However the scientific literature is almost entirely lacking when searching for yams and fertility or even yams and progesterone. 

So if you prefer yams over sweet potatoes, then enjoy! Just don’t go carb loading with yams and expect that they will get you pregnant. 

Pineapples

If you’ve been trying to conceive for any amount of time, you’re probably familiar with the pineapple. 

As the theory goes, eating a pineapple core immediately after ovulation can help you get pregnant. This is based largely on the notion that pineapples are rich in bromelain, an enzyme that can act as both an anti-inflammatory and blood-thinning agent. 

It stands to reason that the lower your inflammation levels and the more blood that flows to your ovaries and uterus the better, right? 

Unfortunately, there is little evidence to suggest that eating pineapples actually increases your chances of getting pregnant. And as a side note, according to some internet sources, pineapples can increase the acidity of your cervical mucus, creating an inhospitable environment for sperm. But in all fairness, we haven’t read anything to support this claim either. 

Bottom line: If you enjoy pineapples, then don’t stop eating them, but the occasional slice – or even the entire core – isn’t likely to get you pregnant. 

Low-Fat Greek Yogurt

Although greek yogurt isn’t typically touted as a fertility superfood, it does receive a lot of attention as an everyday superfood. 

It’s packed with protein and low in fat, so why did low-fat greek yogurt make our list of overrated fertility superfoods? 

It all comes down to the fact that a predominance of androgenic hormones (e.g., testosterone) are left behind after the fat has been skimmed away. And too much of these male-like hormones can disrupt ovulation if left unchecked. 

In fact, according to research from the Harvard School of Public Health, women who ate low-fat dairy ≥ 2 servings per day had an 85% higher risk of ovulatory infertility than women who ate < 1 serving per week. 

Some health experts will claim that it’s best to avoid all forms of diary for reasons we discuss elsewhere, but at the very least make sure to avoid low-fat dairy (including greek yogurt) when trying to conceive. 

Bee Pollen

Bee pollen is almost always found somewhere on the list of fertility superfoods.

And at first glance this food has a lot of nutritional promise – it’s rich in micronutrients (B-vitamins & vitamin C) as well as carbohydrates, fatty acids, and amino acids. 

When it comes to fertility, there are many who claim that bee pollen can increase estrogen levels and stimulate ovarian function. And if you overlook the fact that these claims all cite rat studies, there might be additional reason to skip out on this so-called fertility superfood. 

One of the flavonoids found in bee pollen, chrysin, is an aromatase inhibitor. This simply means that it has the ability to block the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. So based on this property, bee pollen doesn’t increase estrogen levels at all. 

As a side note, those who are allergic to bees or honey or have a history of asthma or allergies should avoid bee pollen. Serious allergic reactions, difficulty breathing and even anaphylactic shock can occur.

The Best Way to Upgrade Your Fertility Food Choices

If you ever find yourself wondering what foods boost your fertility, stick to choices that are a part of the Fertility Diet and you can’t go wrong.

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    Low-glycemic whole grains and vegetables – quinoa, oats, broccoli, asparagus, etc.

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    Omega-3 rich foods – salmon, halibut, flax seed, etc.

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    Plant-proteins – chickpeas, lentils, black-eyed peas, etc.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully this post wasn’t complete scientific buzzkill when it comes to choosing fertility superfoods. As you know, we love us some superfoods! 

However, there’s simply not enough good, quality, human-based studies to back up the claims of yams, pineapples, low-fat greek yogurt or bee pollen when it comes to boosting your fertility.  

We know there are so many things that compete for your attention along your fertility journey, which is why we want to make sure that you’re spending time eating things that actually matter.

With Love & Empowerment,
Dr. Ashley Eskew and Dr. Will Haas
Whenever you’re ready, we can help you choose the most effective fertility superfoods and incorporate them into delicious pro-fertility meals.

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