Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
1.Tomatoes- are an excellent source of vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant that has many important functions in the body, from immune support, to skin health, in the prevention of blood clots and offering protection from prostate cancer. But when it comes to fertility, alongside the vitamin C (which helps to protect the egg and sperm from oxidative stress caused by free radical damage) tomatoes contain Lycopene. Lycopene is a naturally occurring carotenoid. The main food source of lycopene for many being the tomato….cooked tomatoes provide more than raw! Carotenoids are powerful antioxidants and protect the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals.
2. Red peppers also pack their own punch. They offer superior amounts of antioxidants and nutrients to other coloured peppers. They are an excellent source of beta carotene – important for night vision. Their vitamin C content is amazing – with one red pepper providing roughly 300%of your daily vitamin C intake – so if you are iron deficient try combining a red pepper with your iron source for maximum absorption. Red peppers are also a great source of magnesium and vitamin B6. This combination is quite powerful and is thought to help decrease anxiety, especially related to pre-menstrual symptoms. Vitamin B6 is also a natural diuretic, which helps to reduce bloating and has been linked to reducing hypertension in some studies. Red peppers also contain very high levels of Lycopene.
3. Strawberries help support fertility as they are rich in folate. Folate is vital for cell division, growth and development and in the prevention of birth defects in the foetus. Folate may also help to counteract ovulation problems. 125g of strawberries provides 10 per cent of your daily folate needs along with a whole day’s amount of vitamin C. They are a good source of iron, potassium and manganese too. Did you know?…..strawberries are the only fruit to have seeds on their exterior and these contain a small amount of omega 3. Omega 3 fatty acids have been linked to improving blood flow to the uterus, ovulation, improving sperm quality and motility and reducing post-natal depression. 125g of strawberries provides 10 per cent of your daily folate needs along with a whole day’s amount of vitamin C.
4. Raspberries have been linked in studies to protecting sperm from oxidative stress. Raspberries contain a high level of Vitamin C which is a key nutrient in male fertility. They also contain magnesium, which is involved in the production of testosterone helping to give male fertility a further boost. Raspberries supply vital folate to women, which is essential at various key stages of female fertility and early embryo development. They are also packed full of vitamins and antioxidants which are vital to egg health and to health in general. Raspberries support both male and female fertility as they help in the management of obesity. This is important as it is the key to balancing sex hormones. They have one of the lowest GI (Glycemic Index) of any fruit, meaning their sugar is released into the bloodstream slowly and so therefore Raspberries help to balance blood sugar levels, which is important when trying to conceive.
5. Cherries are abundant in powerful antioxidants, primarily anthocyanins, which have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body cells and systems including those of the reproductive system. Cherries are also loaded in potassium, which is particularly beneficial during pregnancy as this mineral helps to keep your fluid and chemical balance while your blood volume expands. In relation to male fertility, vitamin C has been shown in studies to help improve the motility, count and quality of sperm. It also helps to prevent sperm from clumping (agglutination) and help to protect the sperm from damage occurring to the DNA held within it due to its antioxidant properties. In relation to female fertility, vitamin C has been found to help the endocrine system balance oestrogen and progesterone more effectively and is important in protecting egg DNA from free radical damage due to oxidative stress. Cherries are a rich food source of the hormone melatonin. Melatonin promotes healthy circadian rhythm and sleep patterns which are important pre conception and for weight and stress management. Lack of sleep can lead to a variety of health issues including increased insulin resistance and hormonal imbalances.