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Most people understand the importance of eating a healthy, balanced diet, especially when you’re trying to get pregnant. Eating healthy can help you maintain a healthy weight, improve your energy levels, and reduce the risk of certain medical conditions and complications.

Eating well certainly sets the tone for a healthy pregnancy. But what’s more, it’s possible that consuming certain foods before you conceive may influence the sex of your baby.

While there’s no conclusive evidence that certain foods increase the odds of having a girl, let’s review what the research does say.

Foods that are thought to increase your chances of conceiving a girl include:

  • seafood, especially sardines and canned salmon
  • beans
  • almonds
  • dark, leafy greens
  • broccoli
  • dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt
  • rhubarb
  • amaranth (an ancient grain)
  • figs
  • edamame and tofu
  • berries
  • okra
  • citrus fruits
  • oats and oat bran
  • eggs
  • apples
  • seeds, like pumpkin, flax, and chia
  • cashews
  • spinach
  • peanut butter
  • fortified breakfast cereals

Before we dive into the research behind why these foods may increase your chance of conceiving a girl, let’s clarify a couple things.

We know that the constructs of sex and gender are ever-evolving. For the sake of this article, when we refer to conceiving a girl, we are speaking strictly about chromosomes — specifically a baby with two X chromosomes.

Chromosomes determine the biological sex of a person. Females have two X chromosomes and males have one X and one Y chromosome. During conception, sperm will contribute either an X or a Y chromosome.

When the sperm passes an X chromosome (girl sperm), the couple conceives a girl. And when the sperm passes a Y chromosome (boy sperm), the couple conceives a boy.

Dietary choices that may influence sex

For generations, scientists have tried to determine if there is a link between maternal diet and natural sex selection.

And while there are a handful of studies that seem to have come to similar conclusions, many of these studies were performed on other mammals such as cows or rats.

Therefore, more research on human subjects is needed before we can say for certain if there is a link between maternal diet and conceiving a specific sex. Here’s what we do know:

According to a 2010 study, women who consumed a strict diet high in magnesium and calcium (along with timing intercourse) had a greater chance of conceiving a girl.

A study from 2008 looked at the diet of 740 women and found that mothers who consumed higher calories tended to have boys. Researchers believed that there was potentially a link between higher levels of glucose in the blood, which was favorable to male sperm.

Although these findings are far from conclusive and more research is needed, it can’t hurt to increase your intake of calcium and magnesium-rich foods if you want to conceive a girl.

Keeping blood sugar levels regulated is important for everyone’s health, not just parents who want a female child. To ensure healthy blood sugar levels, avoid foods high in added sugar and be sure to consume plenty of fiber, protein, and healthy fats.

Currently, the science doesn’t appear to demonstrate a link between paternal diet and higher ratio of female sperm. If there is a correlation between diet and sex of your future baby, it’s most likely the maternal diet that has the most influence.

But, we do know that healthy sperm helps increase the likelihood of conception, and diet can help boost healthy sperm count.

Remember: There’s no conclusive evidence that changing your diet or timing intercourse will ensure you have a female baby.

There’s only one guaranteed way to conceive a girl, which is a procedure known as sex selection. This in vitro fertilization method (IVF) involves implanting a girl or boy embryo into the mother’s uterus. This option, however, is expensive, and even illegal in some countries.

Still, there are other methods families have used for sex selection. Most of them rely on the timing of sex to increase your chances of having a boy or girl.

Shettles method

The Shettles method was developed by Dr. Landrum Shettles in the 1950s. According to this method, to increase the chance of having a girl, you should have intercourse about 2 to 4 days before ovulation.

This method is based on the notion that girl sperm is stronger and survives longer than boy sperm in acidic conditions. By the time ovulation occurs, ideally only female sperm will be left.

Shettles also recommends shallow penetration to give girl sperm an advantage. This way, sperm can enter the female body near the opening of the vagina, which is a more acidic environment. This also helps girl sperm survive longer.

According to Shettles, the success rate of conceiving a girl with this method is 75 percent. However, there’s currently no scientific research confirming whether or not the Shettles method is effective.

Whelan method

Another method is the Whelan method developed by Elizabeth Whelan. This method is similar to Shettles methods, in that both believe timing is an important factor in sex determination.

With Whelan‘s method, you’re encouraged to have sex 2 or 3 days before ovulation or on the day of ovulation to conceive a girl. The idea behind the timing is that male and female sperm perform differently at different points in a woman’s menstrual cycle.

Sperm with X chromosomes (girl sperm) are more likely to fertilize an egg at this point in the cycle. So when you have sex closer to ovulation or on ovulation day, girl sperm has a greater chance of survival.

According to Whelan, the success rate of having a girl with this method is 57 percent.

Babydust method

The Babydust method was originated by author Kathryn Taylor. She writes about the timing and frequency of intercourse to increase the likelihood of having a girl, too.

With this method, you’ll track your luteinizing hormone (LH) twice a day — once in the morning and once in the evening — for 3 months prior to attempting to conceive.

Since a surge in this hormone indicates that ovulation will occur within the next 12 to 48 hours, you’re able to understand patterns in your menstrual cycle. This way, you can better predict ovulation.

According to Taylor’s book, “Testing at least twice a day is critical, because if you only test once a day, you may detect and record your LH surge much later than it actually occurred, or even worse, you could miss your surge completely.”

Once you’ve tracked the hormone for 3 months, the Babydust method encourages having intercourse once 2 or 3 days before ovulation. Again, the idea is to give female sperm an advantage. By the time the egg arrives, the boy sperm will no longer be viable.

As much as you may want a baby girl, the reality is that no method can promise the desired results. Of course, there’s no harm in giving these methods a try — but more research is needed to determine the effectiveness of these suggestions.

Regardless of whether you have a boy or a girl, the important thing is having a healthy pregnancy and delivering a healthy baby.