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?
Start the day in a balanced way with these lovely baked oats. Oats contain healthy unsaturated fats, protein, dietary fibres, disease-fighting phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals. They are an excellent slow release carbohydrate (which helps to keep you full for longer) and contain beta-glucan, a prebiotic soluble fibre that is great for the gut and heart health, lowering ‘LDL’ cholesterol.
Watermelon is a great source of vitamins C, A, B (some), magnesium, and potassium. It is also high in carotenoids including lycopene and beta carotene- both of which are beneficial when it comes to fertility. Watermelon also contains glutathione (linked to help improve egg quality in certain studies).
A nutritious and delicious savoury pancake with a fantastic combination of nutrients great for health and balancing macronutrients and sugar levels too. Enjoy breakfast, brunch, or lunch and reap the benefits from this great combo of sweet potato, avocado, and egg.
Blueberries both wild and cultivated are native to North America. Nutritionally they are fantastic and provide many benefits to general health and wellbeing. Blueberries contain phytonutrients loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which help support and boost both female and male fertility.
Low in calories and high in nutrients, these deep purple berries are said to be one of the richest sources of antioxidant compounds among all fruits and vegetables, as well as containing anti-inflammatory phytonutrients such as the flavonoid Anthocyanin, which gives blueberries their vibrant colour.
Turkey is an excellent source of lean protein and is low in saturated fat. All B vitamins are present in turkey meat and these are important for fertility as well as for the mind and mood. Turkey is also an excellent source of selenium, iron, phosphorus, and a good source of zinc.
Turkey contains three important antioxidants – N acetylcysteine, Coenzyme Q10, and selenium. Antioxidants are important when it comes to fertility as they help to neutralise the effects of free radicals which may affect the developing egg and sperm.
Cinnamon is a warm, sweet spice that comes from the bark of a tree (Laurel family) native to Sri Lanka. Cassia is another variety native to China. The bark is removed, dried, and rolled up to make a tube. Cinnamon is sold dry as sticks and ground as a powder. It is one of the oldest spices known to us and offers many health and nutritional benefits. Cinnamon is also used to awaken many of our Christmas dishes and provides a sense of warmth during the winter months.
Pomegranates are an excellent source of flavonoids and polyphenols which are powerful antioxidants. They also contain vitamin C, vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid), and folate, along with, vitamin A, vitamin E, zinc, and fibre. Pomegranates also contain special compounds called Punicalagins (found only in pomegranates) which have been linked to supporting the immune system. Punicalagins, in studies, also appear to aid Apoptosis (this is programmed cell death). This is an important process as it helps to speed up the removal of cells that are not functioning in the correct way from the body. In terms of general health, pomegranates are also known to have anti-aging properties, can be helpful for cardiovascular health, balance hormones and bone health, and possess anti-inflammatory properties.
Strawberries help support fertility as they are rich in folate. Folate is vital for cell division, growth, and development and in the prevention of birth defects in the foetus. Folate may also help to counteract ovulation problems. 125g of strawberries provides 10 percent of your daily folate needs along with a whole day’s amount of vitamin C. They are a good source of iron, potassium, and manganese too. They are the only fruit to have seeds on their exterior and these contain a small amount of omega 3. Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to improving blood flow to the uterus, ovulation, improving sperm quality and motility, and reducing post-natal depression. Further studies are needed.
This nutritious and delicious salad is packed full of vital nutrients with amazing avocado containing over 18 important vitamins and minerals and healthy fat. Blood oranges are high in antioxidants and loaded with vitamin C. Unlike other citrus fruits, blood oranges contain anthocyanins, the same red flavonoid pigments that give blueberries their intense colour and amazing antioxidant levels. Pomegranates are packed with flavonoids and polyphenols.
Fancy making a nutritious and delicious speedy meal soup? This is a great fertility-friendly recipe that can be batch made and frozen – quick and easy for in the middle of a busy week.
This truly is a great example of a Mediterranean fertility-friendly style meal soup. The beans in this soup are an excellent source of protein, fibre, and folate and contain natural phytoestrogens which can help to block oestrogen receptors thus helping to balance hormones.
Did you know that Tomatoes contain Lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant that is important to health and fertility?
The main food source of lycopene for many people is tomato. Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants and provide red, yellow, and orange colour to fruit and vegetables. They have an important role in that they protect the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals.
Warm-up with this delicious and nutritious orange vibrant soup and reap the amazing health benefits to be obtained from it. Carrots are in fact 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, calcium, and potassium – all great nutrients when it comes to supporting fertility. Maca is rich in vitamins C, B, and E as well as containing a plentiful supply of the minerals magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, selenium, iron, and zinc, all crucial when it comes to optimizing fertility.