By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Carrots are one of the most nutritious root vegetables and interestingly just one large carrot can provide more than 200% of the daily target for vitamin A! 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 contains 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.
Beta carotene (which the body converts into 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. Beta-carotene also helps to produce the female sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone). These hormones are important for ovulation and for the regulation of the menstrual cycle.
A study by Harvard researchers printed in the Journal Fertility and Sterility found that vegetables such as carrots, spinach and lettuce rich in the antioxidant beta-carotene can improve sperm motility (its ability to swim toward an egg) – further research is needed in this area.
The nutrients provided by carrots have also been linked to offering the following important health benefits:
Cleansing and flushing toxins out of the body
Help reduce anxiety
Helps protects against heart disease and strokes.
Try to go for organic where possible.
This ‘nutritious and delicious’ hummus is so easy to make and so versatile. Dip your crudites in it, enjoy it as part of a meze or bbq, take it on a picnic, spread it on some sourdough and enjoy dipped in some chilli infused olive oil or enjoy with toasted ciabatta slices.
1 can of chickpeas (you may wish to use dried chickpeas but will need to soak them for a few hours first)
2 cloves of garlic crushed
65 ml of extra virgin olive oil
½ lemon (juice and zest)
3 tsp of tahini (sesame seed paste)
40ml of water
Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Slice the carrots and place on a baking tray and drizzle a little olive oil over them. Roast for around 30 minutes until soft. Remove from the oven and tip into a food processor, add the chickpeas (rinsed) and the olive oil and blitz until smooth. Add the garlic, lemon and tahini paste along with 30ml of water and blitz again. Add water a little at a time as required until you achieve the required consistency. Enjoy!
Important note: When trying to conceive it is important to avoid consuming too much vitamin A in the Retinol form – as this may increase the risk of birth defects – this is why it is best to avoid pate and liver products pre-conceptually. If you are unsure ask your health care provider such as GP or Qualified Nutritional Therapist/Dietician
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