While research has shown that the consumption of olive oil protects from various chronic diseases, a new study from the Harvard School of Public Health has found a positive association association between good fats and positive outcomes in women having In Vitro Fertilization (IVF).

Dietary fat intake has been previously associated with reproductive health, for example, a high intake of trans-fats has been associated with ovulatory infertility and miscarriage, while saturated fats have been related to lower sperm concentrations. But there is little information about the effect of dietary fat during fertility treatment.

This study investigated the effect of dietary fat in women having IVF. The study was presented this week at the annual meeting of ESHRE (European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology) by Dr Jorge Chavarro, Assistant Professor of Nutrition and Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health.

The researchers investigated intakes of total fat but also saturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, monounsaturated fat as well as omega-6, omega-3 and trans fats. The results of the analysis showed that higher intakes of monounsaturated fat, the main fat found in olive oil, were related to higher odds of live birth. The odds of a live birth after embryo transfer was 3.45 times higher for women who had the highest intake of monounsaturated fat compared to those with the lowest intake.

Women with higher intakes of total fat had fewer metaphase II (MII) oocytes (only MII oocytes can be used for IVF) retrieved than women with lower intakes, this association appears to be driven by saturated fat intake according to Professor Chavarro. Polyunsaturated fat also had a negative effect. Women consuming the most polyunsaturated fat had a higher proportion of poor quality embryos.

Professor Chavarro noted that it is important that the results are replicated in other studies before making strong recommendations about fat intake to women having infertility treatment. However, olive oil, one of the best sources of monounsaturated fats has been proven to be beneficial in general and it is recommended to anybody including woman undergoing IVF to include olive oil in their diet.

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