Avocado diet 'triples chance of success' for couples undergoing IVF
06:59 GMT, 4 July 2012
The study says Mediterranean foods like avocado can enhance fertility
Eating avocados and dressing salads with olive oil could help women trying to have a baby through IVF, researchers claim.
Foods typically eaten as part of the Mediterranean diet may triple the chances of success for women having the fertility treatment.
A study found monounsaturated fat – found in olive oil, sunflower oil, nuts and seeds – was better than any other kind of dietary fat for would-be mothers. Those who ate the highest amounts were 3.4 times more likely to have a child after IVF than those who ate the lowest amounts.
In contrast, women who ate mostly saturated fat, found in butter and red meat, produced fewer good eggs for use in fertility treatment.
US experts behind the study believe monounsaturated fats – which are already known to protect the heart – could improve fertility by lowering inflammation in the body.
The study was presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Istanbul.
It was carried out at Harvard School of Public Health, funded by the US National Institutes of Health.
Study leader Professor Jorge Chavarro said: ‘The best kinds of food to eat are avocados, which have a lot of monounsaturated fat and low levels of other sorts of fat, and olive oil.’
He said the study was small, but the findings merited further investigation. ‘While these results are interesting, this is the first time to our knowledge that dietary fats have been linked to treatment outcome in IVF,’ he said.
Prof Chavarro said higher levels of
monounsaturated fat were linked to higher live birth rates, which
‘ultimately people are looking for’.
Salad days: Salads dressed with olive oil and containing nuts and seeds can also help women trying to conceive through IVF
The study took place among 147 women having IVF at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center.
Their intake of different dietary fats was recorded and the outcome of fertility treatment compared between the highest and lowest third of intake in each category.
Women eating the highest levels of all types of fat had fewer good eggs available for use in treatment.
Prof Chavarro said the link was driven by saturated fat intake, while high levels of polyunsaturated fat consumption produced poorer quality embryos.
Higher intakes of monounsaturated fat were linked to a 3.4 times higher live birth rate than those with the lowest intake.
For those eating least, monounsaturated fat made up nine per cent of calories in their diet while it comprised a quarter for those eating the most.
Prof 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.’
He said fish remained a source of ‘good’ omega 3 fatty acids, although the study was not able to pin down its contribution.