By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Blackberries are back and are in abundance this year so get picking! Did you know that Blackberries are also known as Bramble or Bramble Raspberry and belong to the rose family? They are known as an aggregate fruit, meaning that they are made from a number of tiny druplets, each of which contains a seed. This is where their high fibre content comes from. These delicious berries are worth searching for because they are beneficial to your health. You may use them all year round because they freeze well. They are loaded with antioxidants that shield your cells from injury, as shown by their black, inky colour. They are high in fibre and vitamin C. Due to their low glycaemic load, blackberries can aid in maintaining stable blood sugar levels. They are a fantastic low-fat addition to your diet and have a high tannin content that helps to minimise intestinal inflammation.
Blue and purple fruits and vegetables obtain their vibrant colour from beneficial plant compounds called Polyphenols. These are particularly high in Anthocyanins, which are powerful antioxidants and give the gorgeous blue and purple hues to these lovely blue and purple fruit and vegetables.
How do Blue and Purple plant-based foods help our general health and fertility?
• The vitamins and minerals provided by blue and purple fruit and vegetables can have a big impact on our energy and overall health. They are packed full of antioxidants including anthocyanins, vitamin C, B, E and K, along with a variety of other nutrients including fibre, magnesium, potassium and more. Some blue and purple fruit and vegetables such as beetroot contain a high level of folate which is essential when it comes to female fertility because it helps to reduce homocysteine levels ( we have mentioned homocysteine before in earlier articles and videos). Folate is also important in the prevention of neural tube defects. In men, research shows that poor levels of folate (vitamin B9) are linked to a low sperm count and decreased sperm mobility.
• Contain anti-inflammatory properties.
• Linked to lowering blood pressure- due to the production of nitric oxide (due to reactions involving the flavonoids contained in the blue and purple plant-based foods). This nitric oxide causes the muscle fibres in the blood vessels to relax. As the fibres relax the blood vessel dilates, causing a drop of pressure within it – helping to reduce blood pressure. Nitric Oxide is therefore an important vasodilator, which increases circulation throughout the body. Healthy circulation is essential to enable blood flow to the uterus and reproductive organs in men and women. Promoting circulation to the uterus is crucial for improving uterine health and for pregnancy preparation.
• Gut health – polyphenols are known to support ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, which is important for all aspects of general health and fertility.
• Improved cardiovascular health.
• Linked to helping in the prevention of Dementia in some studies
• May protect against urinary tract infections- due to the antibacterial properties of some blue and purple foods such as blackcurrants.
What do Anthocyanins do?
Anthocyanins are antioxidants which help protect the body from oxidative stress. This is important for many aspects of our health, including fertility. Oxidative stress happens due to an imbalance between free radical and antioxidants in the body. Too much free radical damage or an imbalance may lead to damage to the DNA in cells. This may lead to premature ageing of the cells, which can cause issues when it comes to fertility re the sperm and egg cell DNA.
Eating a wide range of colourful food helps us to obtain a good amount of antioxidants to help guard against the free radicals which may cause damage, bringing the body into balance and reducing oxidative stress.
More examples of fertility-friendly blue and purple foods to add to your fertility diet
Blueberries, damsons, figs, purple sprouting broccoli, red cabbage, aubergine, red onions, beetroot, purple potatoes and carrots, grapes, bilberries…….the list goes on!
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