Reasons to love the fertility boosting Brussel Sprouts

We LOVE sprouts at IVF Babble HQ! and they certainly pack a punch of nutrients to help boost fertility too!

By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional  Therapy)

It’s true we actually DO ALL LOVE SPROUTS!! – we have discussed it all together in fact -but not too mushy!

On analysis, they are just like mini cabbage’s but they are also mini powerhouses packed full of vitamins and minerals which are vital for fertility…. and the more you eat the more you benefit (within reason of course!! -1 portion is equal to roughly 80g – so let’s not go into the side effects!).

Sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable (along with cauliflower, broccoli etc) and contain a special phytonutrient known as DIM (Diindolylmethane) which has been linked to potentially reducing oestrogen dominance. DIM is a metabolic by-product of I3C (indole-3-carbinol.) Oestrogen dominance is a major cause of many fertility issues in women. Endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids and Ovarian Cysts, are all oestrogen dominant conditions. In a research study it was found that women who ate the most fruit and vegetables had the lowest rates of endometriosis (please see reference for the study below under interesting reading). Both men and women’s bodies can experience oestrogen dominance. Men’s oestrogen levels also increase with age and are subject to the same oestrogen balance problems a female body may face, including improper metabolism of oestrogen. DIM has been shown to inhibit an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone to oestrogen. While more research is needed, it’s thought to help balance hormone levels via its effects on oestrogen.

Sprouts also have a low Glycemic load (GL). Which means that they are great when it comes to balancing blood sugar levels – this is paramount when it comes to fertility and also great if you are trying to lose weight!

Sprouts are full of B vitamins including folate. Folic acid is essential for fertility as it helps line a woman’s womb with nutrients that nourish the womb and increase the chance for sperm survival. It is also important in the prevention of neural tube defects. Folic acid is important for sperm health too.

A study published in Nature Communications in 2013 found that fathers with a diet deficient in folate were more likely to have offspring with abnormalities of the head, face and sternum (breastbone) and a build-up of fluid on the brain. In addition, a study published in 2001 in the Journal of Fertility and Sterility found that low levels of folic acid in men were linked with low sperm counts and less active sperm.

And….lets not forget vitamin C, a very important antioxidant when it comes to fertility for healthy eggs and sperm. Sprouts are packed full of it! 100 g sprouts provide about 85 mg or 142% of the recommended daily amount for adults. So- getting eating more Brussel sprouts!

In addition to lovely sprouts, wholefoods to consider eating that are rich in folic acid are dark leafy greens, papaya, lentils, avocado and beetroot.

Recipe idea: Brussel Sprouts with red onion

Ingredients (makes 6 portions)

25g Organic Butter

700g Brussel sprouts

3 red onions cut into quarters

2 tsp of demerara sugar

Sprinkle of pomegranate seeds

How to make

Heat the butter in a frying pan and add the onions. Cook gently over a medium heat for 7-8 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden and caramelised. Meanwhile, cook the sprouts in a pan of boiling water for 3-4 mins until just tender.

Stir the demerara sugar into the onions and allow to bubble for a few seconds. Remove from the heat, drain the sprouts and mix through the onion mixture to serve. Sprinkle some pomegranate seeds over the top.  Enjoy!

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