Whether you’re making a dressing for your salad, or roasting some veggies, you’re going to need a splash of oil.  Today I’m going to rate my top three favourite oils, so that you know which is best to use and why…

I’m sure that you’ve heard of terms like omega 3, polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats and bad fats. It can all be a bit confusing, can’t it? Well, simply put, the oils that we use in cooking… like coconut oil, olive oil and sunflower oil are made up of these different fats… kind of like how milk is made up of protein, calcium, lactose and vitamins. The types of fats, antioxidants and vitamins found in different oils help health professionals, like me, decide which oils are best for achieving different goals.

Which oil for fertility?

When it comes to fertility, I’m looking for 5 key features. I’m looking for oils which are:

  1. Low in bad saturated fats which can cause inflammation,
  2. Rich in antioxidants which can protect our eggs from damage,
  3. High in vitamin E which is a fat-soluble vitamin that has been found to be good for our uterine lining,
  4. Abundant in good monounsaturated fats which have been found to decrease inflammation, and finally,
  5. Plentiful in omega 3 fats, which have been found to increase blood flow to our uterus and improve fertility hormones.

So, with these objectives in mind, and having looked at the latest research, I’d like to give my award for my third favourite fertility oil to…

3. Canola oil

Canola oil has less saturated fat than any other oil, which gives it a big tick in my book. It contains eleven per cent omega 3’s, so it’s one of the richest sources of that… although the omega 3 in oils is the short-chain ALA form, so it’s not quite as good as the long-chain DHA form found in fish. And, it contains 16mg of alpha tocopherol vitamin E in every 100ml, so two to three tablespoons each day will easily meet your requirements.

Second place goes to…

2. Flaxseed oil

Flaxseed oil, or linseed oil as it is also known, made my short list because it contains a whopping 57% good omega 3 fat!  And, although I’d prefer that you got your omega 3 from fish, if you don’t eat fish, flaxseed could be a good option. One important study, called a meta-analysis, found that flaxseed reduced inflammation rates in overweight people – and you may wonder why that’s relevant, but reducing inflammation markers is also very important when you’re trying to conceive because inflammation impacts your whole body, including your eggs and uterus, and can make it difficult for your embryo to implant into your uterus.  It’s important to note though, that flaxseed oil shouldn’t be used for cooking.

Now, the winner of my ‘favourite oil to use when you’re trying to get pregnant’ award is…

1. Extra virgin olive oil

So why EVOO? Well, obviously it ticks off all the 5 key features – it is low in bad saturated fats, it’s rich in antioxidants and rich in vitamin E, it also contains some omega 3 fats, but mostly, it wins because of it’s high proportion of monosaturated fats. Seventy-five per cent of the oil consists of these good, monounsaturated fats, which help to reduce inflammation!  There’s been quite a few studies now that have found a link between extra virgin olive oil, the Mediterranean Diet and fertility. For example, one study found that a diet high in olive oil and low in meat, improved embryonic growth and decreased the rates of miscarriages. 

In summary

So, let’s wrap up with a few tips about oil… no matter which oil you decide to use…

Firstly, unless you are trying to gain weight, you only need a small amount of oil each day… 1 teaspoon per person, per meal, is usually enough.

Secondly, oils shouldn’t be kept for more than a year. Unlike wine, they do NOT improve with age. So, purchase it in small quantities and throw out any that has been sitting in your pantry for ages.

Thirdly, keep it in a dark place, out of the sun, because light causes the goodness to deteriorate.

Finally, remember that oil is NOT bad for you when it comes to fertility, it’s just important to choose the right type.  A study by Dr Vujkovic and colleagues found that women consuming a more Mediterranean-style diet including extra virgin olive oil were more likely to become pregnant through IVF than those consuming a more ‘health conscious’ dietary style which was lower in healthy oils and legumes.  But, avoid ‘bad’ oils like palm oil found in take away foods, chocolate and biscuits.

Now, let me know which oil YOU currently use in the comments box below… and how long it’s been sitting in your pantry.

And, I have one last gift for you… I’ve designed a fertility meal plan, so that you can eat as healthily as possible in the lead up to getting pregnant.  Just go to www.melaniemcgrice.com/fertility.


Melanie McGrice in the kitchen

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