By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
1. Brazil Nuts dipped in Dark Chocolate
Dip your brazil nuts in some melted dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids or above) for a super fertility snack.
Did you know that brazil nuts contain very high levels of selenium, and that just one or two nuts can provide a whole day’s recommended intake? Selenium is often lacking in modern diets due to soil being depleted of this important mineral. Selenium helps to protect us from the diseases associated with ageing. It is an antioxidant that is important to fertility because it prevents oxidation and DNA damage in the egg and sperm cells. It is also important in oogenesis and spermatogenesis (egg and sperm production). In studies, men with low sperm counts have been found, when tested, to have low levels of selenium. Increasing selenium levels may lead to improved sperm motility. A low selenium status has been tied to low birth weight babies and preeclampsia, which is high blood pressure during pregnancy. It is important for healthy functioning of the thyroid gland.
Brazil nuts are also a good source of vitamin E (another antioxidant important for health and fertility), along with calcium and magnesium (the happy mineral!).
Dark chocolate containing 70% and above cocoa is a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, fibre and iron- providing protective benefits re insulin sensitivity, heart health and blood pressure. When it comes to fertility dark chocolate can help support male fertility as it is a rich source of the amino acid L-arginine which in studies have been linked to improving sperm count and motility. This amino acid can also support female fertility and has been linked to helping increase the flow of blood to the ovaries and uterus.
To make your healthy snack:
Take 2 squares of dark chocolate and melt in a bowl over a pan containing boiled water. Dip your brazil nuts into the melted chocolate and allow to harden and cool. Double up the amounts to make a few day’s worth of this nutritious and delicious healthy snack. Keep in an airtight tin and enjoy!
2. Omega 3 rich Sweet Potato, Cod and Salmon Fish Cakes (makes around 10 small fish cakes)
2 large sweet potato
240g salmon fillets
200g cod fillet
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 spring onion, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley and coriander, chopped
2 organic eggs
1 heaped tablespoon corn flour
How to make:
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Peel the sweet potatoes, chop them up and add them to the pan, then cover and cook until the potatoes are soft. This will take around 20 minutes.
Mash with a little milk and butter and set aside. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and gently cook the garlic and onions. After about a minute or two, add the fish fillets and cook well. Separate the fish into smaller bits using a fork.
Add the spring onions and cook for a further minute. Whilst the fish is cooling, crack the eggs into a bowl and mix using a fork. Pour the egg mix into the mash and combine with chopped fresh herbs. Shape into balls and flatten. Dust the cakes lightly in cornflour and gently cook in a frying pan on both sides for a few minutes.
Omega 3 and female fertility
Increase the blood flow to the uterus
Regulate monthly cycles and reducing inflammation
During pregnancy- brain and retina development
May help to prevent pre-eclampsia and postnatal depression
Omega 3 and male fertility
Sperm membrane composition and integrity
Increase sperm count
Improve motility and morphology
Reduce damage to sperm DNA
3. Tasty smoked mackerel pate
Why not treat yourself this summer to some homemade smoked mackerel pate? This is a great as a snack with crudites. Nutritionally, Smoked Mackerel provides us with high quality protein (important in the production of hormones), essential omega-3 fats (important in keeping our heart, skin, brain, joints and eyes healthy) and several vitamins and minerals including vitamins B, D and selenium which are all important for health and also fertility.
Makes 4 small ramekins
50g crème fraiche
150g smoked mackerel fillet ready to eat
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
Remove the skin and bones from the fish and break into small flakes using a knife and fork. Place all of the ingredients into a bowl and mix together thoroughly with a spoon. For a smoother texture place into a blender or food processor. Transfer into a serving dish, or into individual ramekins and chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours before serving. Enjoy!
4. Iodine Rich Sushi?
The seaweed (nori ) in this dish is low in calories and a great source of iodine which is needed for the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland. Seaweed also contains zinc- another important mineral when it comes to health and fertility.
Nutritionally, Smoked Salmon provides us with high quality protein (important in the production of hormones), essential omega-3 fats (important in keeping our heart, skin, brain, joints and eyes healthy. , and several vitamins and minerals including vitamins B, D and Selenium which are all important for health and also fertility.
Cucumber is great for hydration and also contains a fantastic amount of antioxidants including vitamin c and also a number of other nutrients including manganese, potassium, vitamin k, magnesium, potassium and fibre.
Ingredients (serves 4)
4 sheets seaweed (nori)
9oz sushi rice
50g smoked salmon
2tsp rice vinegar
Pinch of sea salt
3 cm piece of cucumber cut into very small strips
Cook the rice, drain it and place into a bowl -mix the salt and rice vinegar through it with a spoon- cover with a clean tea towel.
Place a clean bamboo mat on top of a chopping board and lay a sheet of nori onto the mat. Spoon ¼ of the rice over the nori and press it down –( leave a small space of around 1cm at each end).
Arrange the salmon over the rice and then place the cucumber strips over the salmon. Hold the nearest edge of the mat and roll up the nori tightly and use a drop of water to seal the edge. Repeat with the remaining nori strips and then cut the roll into smaller pieces. These go well with any of the following: Gari or pickled Ginger, Tempura, Edamame or Seaweed Salad.
5. Dark Chocolate, Cherry, Date and Oat bites
Love cherries and dark chocolate? If so, some of these lovely energy bites may be for you. These are great as a healthy snack or as a dessert.
Cherries are packed full of vitamins and antioxidants including vitamin C- they rank as one of the most health protective of fruit- great for those suffering from gout. Scientific studies have shown that anthocyanins in the cherries are found to act like anti-inflammatory agents. These anthocyanins also help increase insulin production and thus regulate blood sugar levels. Both important factors in relation to fertility.
Oats are an excellent slow release carbohydrate (which help to keep you full for longer) and a prebiotic food. They help to balance blood sugar levels which is an important aspect of general health but can also impact positively on other health areas such as fertility. Oats also are high in beta glucan. Beta glucan is one form of soluble dietary fibre that is strongly linked to improving cholesterol levels and boosting heart health.
Dark chocolate – 70% and above cocoa is a good source of antioxidants, magnesium (for mood!) fibre and iron- providing protective benefits re insulin sensitivity, heart health and blood pressure. When it comes to fertility dark chocolate can help support male fertility as it is a rich source of the amino acid L-arginine which in studies have been linked to improving sperm count and motility. This amino acid can also support female fertility and has been linked to helping increase the flow of blood to the ovaries and uterus.
Dates are high in antioxidants and an excellent source of fibre-as they are sticky they help to bind the energy bites together!
Ingredients (makes around 25 energy bites)
8oz of destoned chopped fresh Cherries
8oz of chopped Dates
8oz of broken up Dark chocolate (70% +Cocoa solids)- you can always add a pinch of Cinnamon too!
How to make:
Chop the cherries and dates into very small pieces and then combine with the oats and chocolate ( I find that the chocolate is best if slightly melted over a pan of boiling water to make it smoother) in a mixing bowl and give it a good stir. Divide the mix and roll into balls.
Place into the fridge or freeze for a minimum of 2 hours, or overnight for a more solid result.
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