By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Warm up this autumn with this nutritious and delicious fertility-friendly dahl.
Lentils are a rich source of protein which makes them a great alternative to meat. They are rich in folate, iron, fibre and potassium and as they have a low glycaemic index, this helps to slow the rate at which energy is released into the bloodstream , thereby helping prevent sugar ‘spikes’ thus they are a balancing food for those trying to manage their blood sugar levels (particularly important in relation to fertility and for those who have PCOS). Their high fibre content means that they are a filling food which also helps with appetite control- a great fertility-friendly food. Lentils are a wonderful source of folate, an essential immune enhancing nutrients as well as a key nutrient for baby’s brain and spinal cord development. Lentils are a rich source of polyphenols, bioactive food components that have strong anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory properties.
Butternut Squash belongs to the ‘gourd’ family- which also includes cucumber and pumpkin and is technically classed as a fruit as it contains seeds. It is low in fat, rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients and contains ample vitamin B6, potassium, dietary fibre, vitamin C and beta carotene (which the body converts to vitamin A). 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.
Red lentil and Butternut Squash Dhal
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp cayenne pepper
400g butternut squash, peeled and cut into 2cm (prepared weight)
400g can of chopped tomato (optional)
1.2L chicken or vegetable stock
1 heaped tbsp mango chutney (optional)
300g red split lentils
A handful of fresh coriander roughly chopped, stir in before serving.
Prepare the vegetables as described above.
Pour the oil and the onions into a saucepan, and cook gently for 5 mins. Stir in the garlic and cook for a further 1 min, then stir in the spices and butternut squash. Combine everything together.
Tip in the chopped tomatoes, stock (add gradually, do not add it all) and chutney, and season well. Bring to a boil, then gently simmer for about 10 mins. Add the lentils and simmer for another 20 mins until the lentils and squash are tender. Serve with some chopped fresh coriander over the top. Enjoy!
Albert Salas-Huetos, Mònica Bulló, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Dietary patterns, foods and nutrients in male fertility parameters and fecundability: a systematic review of observational studies, Human Reproduction Update, Volume 23, Issue 4, July-August 2017, Pages 371–389.
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