Seasonal Recipes for Healthy Eating and Fertility
Plums are abundant in the autumn and not only are they nutritious they are also delicious! Eating seasonal fresh produce provides the body with the essential nutrients needed at that specific time of year. Native to China and Europe, plums are a member of the rose family and have been eaten for at least 2,000 years and there are also over 2,000 varieties, including greengages, victoria plums, and purple plums!
Important: Plums are high in oxalates- check with your GP or qualified Nutritional Therapist /Dietician if you are unsure about their suitability for you.
Apples are abundant in the autumn and not only are they nutritious they are also delicious! Eating with the seasons provides the body with the essential nutrients needed at a particular time of year. Apples contain only a few nutrients, but the ones they do have are highly important when it comes to health and fertility –and these include the powerful antioxidants vitamin A and C. Vitamin C helps to protect cells and DNA (including that of egg and sperm cells) helping to slow down cell aging. It also plays a role in male fertility and has been linked to improving sperm quality and preventing agglutination. Vitamin A helps to keep the tissues in the reproductive system healthy, along with ensuring the normal growth and development of embryos during pregnancy. It also helps with tissue repair in the mother after birth has taken place.
What is Butternut Squash?
Butternut squash belongs to the ‘gourd’ family- which also includes cucumber and pumpkin. Butternut squash is technically a fruit as it contains seeds.
It is rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients and contains ample vitamin B6, potassium, dietary fibre, vitamin C and beta carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A). Butternut squash is low in fat.
The beautiful colour of the butternut squash is due to carotenoids (these are naturally occurring fat-soluble pigments that are synthesized by plants, algae and photosynthetic bacteria).
Carrots are one of the most nutritious root vegetables. They are one of the richest vegetable sources of carotene (this gives them their vibrant orange colour), high in fibre and packed full of the antioxidants beta carotene, vitamin C and E and also the minerals calcium and potassium – all great nutrients when it comes to supporting fertility. Beta carotene, also called ‘plant’ vitamin A, is a carotenoid, which is converted into vitamin A by our liver. Beta carotene is generally considered to be safer than retinol which is fat-soluble.
All health starts with the gut! If nutrients cannot be digested and/or absorbed from our food correctly then this will have an impact on all body organs and systems in some way, including the nervous system, reproductive system and immune system.
It is important to ensure that the gut is full of healthy microbes which are balanced, as these form an ecosystem that works closely together forming many interconnections (this is known as the Microbiome). This finely tuned ecosystem is important for a healthy body and mind as it is involved in the effective absorption of vital nutrients, enhancing the immune system and helping to reduce inflammation in the body, turning off genes, turning on enzymes, helping in the reduction of anxiety and depression and the ageing process (to name a few).
Cauliflower is a nutritional superstar and supports health in many ways. Like all cruciferous vegetables (these include broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts), cauliflower is high in fibre and also provides an assortment of vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health, including vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and vitamin B6. Cruciferous vegetables are also well known to contain a unique group of sulphur-containing phytonutrients called Glucosinolates. Glucosinolates stimulate liver detoxification and the production of antioxidants. One of the breakdown products of these is called Indole-3-Carbinol (I3C), which helps with oestrogen metabolism in the body.
Not only rich in folate but there was also another reason that you were told to eat your Broccoli! Did you know?…..that along long with the other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels, cabbage, turnips, and kale – it can help to balance your hormones too! Broccoli, along with the other vegetables in the same family, contains a substance called diindolylmethane (DIM), which supports the excretion of used hormones such as estrogen….why not try making this delicious and nutritious Broccoli soup?
If you have ever wondered why plant foods look so colourful and appealing to the eye – it is due to the gorgeous pigments that they contain – no wonder they are so attractive to the bees and other pollinator insects! Some of these pigments also help to protect the plants from invaders too. Spring is on its way and it is lovely to see buds and trees starting to burst out in green. Ever told you when you were young to eat your greens and wondered why?
Folate (vitamin B9) is a very important vitamin, for many reasons. It is involved with DNA methylation (a process related to gene expression), supports red blood cell formation and is important in regulating homocysteine levels in the blood. Vitamin B9 is an essential nutrient that supports neural tube development during pregnancy Not having enough vitamin B9 can also affect energy levels and mood.
Folate and folic acid are two different forms of vitamin B9 and the words/names are often used interchangeably so that most people assume they are the same. So how are they different?