Couples having trouble conceiving may benefit from a non-intrusive and affordable strategy for improving their chances of conception, and it’s as simple as a change of diet. A new study has discovered that eating a Mediterranean style diet may improve fertility.

In the United States, roughly 11 percent of women and nine percent of men of reproductive age experience infertility, defined as the inability to conceive after one year of trying to get pregnant. Treatment for fertility issues can be costly, invasive and emotionally taxing. A change of diet is relatively easy.

Studies have suggested that inflammation may be at the core of infertility issues, affecting sperm quality, menstrual cycles and the implantation of a developing embryo. Researchers at Monash University, the University of the Sunshine Coast, and the University of South Australia conducted a review of previous studies to look for an association between an anti-inflammatory diet and fertility. They found that the Mediterranean diet with its anti-inflammatory qualities may be able to help couples beat infertility issues.

Treatment for fertility issues can be costly, invasive and emotionally taxing. A change of diet is relatively easy.

“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,” one of the study authors, Evangeline Mantzioris, Nutrition and Food Sciences Program Director at the University of South Australia, explained in a statement.

The Mediterranean diet is just such a diet. It emphasizes plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains and healthy oils, such as olive oil, with protein coming from yogurt, cheese, fish, chicken and eggs. It ranks among the best eating patterns to promote good health and longevity, and it protects against diseases caused by inflammation. The Mediterranean diet has been shown to improve brain health, reduce the risk of some types of cancer, as well as heart disease and diabetes.

On the other hand, the typical American diet promotes inflammation. Eating large amounts of saturated fat, animal protein, refined carbohydrates, fast food and processed food creates a high-calorie diet that does not provide adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber. Many of the chronic diseases that people develop as they age are linked to an inflammatory diet.

Couples wishing to start a family would be smart to pay attention to what they are eating before trying to conceive, as well as while they are trying to conceive.

Further research is needed to confirm a relationship between infertility and the Mediterranean diet, but since eating Mediterranean style can improve your health and reduce your risk of many diseases, there is no downside to couples wanting to start a family using it to perhaps improve their chances of pregnancy.

It’s a win-win way of eating.

The study is published in Nutrients.