Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
It’s National Infertility Awareness Day today and we are not only wearing orange but thinking and eating orange too!. We also thought that we would ask Sue why are orange -based food and vegetables good for our health and fertility? This is what she said…..
It goes without saying that diet is an important area to focus on when trying to conceive (TTC) and preparing your body for fertility treatment. It is important to make sure both eggs and sperm are in the best possible health, adopting healthy habits is one of the first steps that should be taken when preparing for fertility treatment – for both partners.
The idea of ‘eating the rainbow’ really applies here – Eating a wide range of fruits and vegetables (plant-based foods) across the colour spectrum is a good way of optimising your nutrient and antioxidant intake, thus supporting your general health and fertility too. These plant-based foods include fruit and vegetables in a variety of forms – they could be fresh, frozen, cooked, pureed, canned or dried. Orange and yellow fruit and vegetables as part of the food rainbow provide us with some very important nutrients indeed which help to support health and fertility.
Some examples of healthy orange fruit and vegetables you may wish to include :
Squash, peppers, oranges, satsumas, apricots, carrots, papaya, sweet potatoes, mango, persimmon, pumpkin. Ginger and Turmeric and other herbs and spices also are a beautiful orange colour too and boast numerous health benefits.
How do Orange plant-based food help our general health?
Plant based orange foods provide an array of nutrients including flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, folate, vitamin C and beta carotene. The beta carotene and other carotenoids have a potent antioxidant activity. Free radicals are highly unstable and set off a process called oxidation which can have harmful effects on the every cell in the body.
Beta carotene gives the orange spectrum foods their vibrant colour and is thought to help to support immunity, keep our heart healthy, fight against dementia and certain cancers. It is important in collagen formation, linked to lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and very important in eye health. Carotenoids are the main antioxidants found in orange vegetables and fruits. Carotenoids are important for healthy eyes, mucous membranes and skin. Orange foods also contain the carotenoid Lutein, which helps to maintain healthy vision.
And what about fertility?
In relation to fertility, beta-carotene (which the body converts into vitamin A) helps to produce the female sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone). These hormones are important for ovulation and for the regulation of the menstrual cycle. Beta-carotene is the plant-based precursor to vitamin A. It may protect us from conditions related to oestrogen dominance, for example breast cysts and heavy menstrual bleeding. When it comes to male fertility, food rich in antioxidants including beta carotene is associated with improving sperm quality in men.
Fancy a ‘Nutritious and Delicious Stuffed Squash with a tasty Bean Stew’ as a tasty mid week meal? To add some selenium and zinc to this recipe why not add a few seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin?
Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Makes 2 portions – double up as required
2 squash of your choice
1 onion – chopped
1 tsp of olive oil or rapeseed oil
1 clove of garlic crushed
200g of chopped tomatoes (can be fresh or canned)
200g of haricot beans
A handful of fresh basil and oregano
Seasoning to taste
Optional (100g of grated cheese of your choice to sprinkle over the top)
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C
- Heat the oil in a pan and fry the onion until soft. Add the garlic and cook gently for a couple more minutes.
- Add the beans and tomatoes along with the fresh herbs and a pinch of seasoning and allow to cook gently for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, cut the tops off the squash and scoop out the seeds.
- Spoon the tomato, bean and herb mixture into the squash (sprinkle with grated cheese if you wish) and place into the preheated oven for around 40 minutes.