IVF Babble

5 Great fertility friendly foods to put in your shopping trolley

We asked Sue Bedford a leading nutritionist, to tell us what fertility foods to pop into our shopping trolley and to what to do with them!
Asparagus
Asparagus is available in the UK all year round but it is at its best in the spring and boasts an impressive nutrient profile – it is also low in calories too! Asparagus is particularly high in folate (Vitamin B9) which is important in the prevention of neural tube defects – vital prior to conception and onwards. Asparagus contains a good amount of vitamin C and E and tops you up with zinc, manganese and selenium – making it a key fertility booster for those who are trying to conceive. Great in salads, or as an accompaniment to meat and fish dishes. 
Poached egg with asparagus 
Start your day off in a nutritious way and help to balance your blood sugar levels at the same time! 
Keeping blood sugar under control is essential to optimize your chance of pregnancy through fertility treatment (or naturally) as fluctuating blood sugar levels have a negative effect on many hormones associated with fertility such as insulin, testosterone and progesterone. This then leads to imbalances. For example, in the case of Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). Aim to eat some good quality protein with carbohydrate at each meal as this combination helps to reduce the ‘spiking’ of blood sugar levels.
Eggs are packed full of vital vitamins and minerals needed for fertility including selenium, iron, choline, vitamin B12 and vitamin D.
Ingredients (per person)
2 medium eggs 
5 British Asparagus spears
Parmesan shavings (optional)
Pepper to season (optional)
Very easy to make:
Poach the eggs in a little boiling water (around 2 minutes for medium eggs). Remove and place onto a plate. Meanwhile boil or steam the asparagus for a couple of minutes, drain and place around the eggs. Season with pepper and sprinkle over some parmesan shavings if you wish and enjoy!
Also makes a great lunch!
Tomatoes 
It’s not all about eating your greens! Packed full of powerful beta carotenoids, red fruit and vegetables, tomatoes have been found to improve the sperm’s ability to swim towards an egg.  Similarly, lycopene, found in abundance in tomatoes, is associated with improving the overall appearance and quality of men’s sperm. Recent research regarding endometriosis and diet has indicated that lycopene may be useful in reducing the abnormal activity of cells in those with this condition and as a result may reduce the adhesive effects of endometriosis.
Fresh tomato soup
Ingredients:
8 large ripe tomatoes
2/3 tablespoons olive oil
4 potatoes
2 onions
1 stick of celery
1 carrot
1 clove of garlic (crushed)
1 litre of vegetable stock (add more if necessary for desired thickness)
Seasoning
Fresh herbs such as fresh rosemary and thyme (optional)
To make:
Slice the tomatoes, onion, celery, and potatoes into cubes. Grate one carrot.
Warm a large pot and add in olive oil. Add in the onions and garlic and cook till soft.
Then, add in potatoes, tomatoes, celery and carrot (and herbs if required). Cook for a couple of minutes.
Add in vegetable stock and allow to simmer for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are soft.
Using a blender or food processor, blend the soup until smooth. Adjust thickness as necessary by adding extra water if required.
Salmon
Wild salmon is a great source of protein for fertility and it is also at the low end of the scale for mercury contamination, which is an important factor to consider pre-conceptually and beyond. Salmon is rich in essential fatty acids and omega-3s, which has been shown to be beneficial to fertility in men and women, in the reduction of inflammation. Salmon also contains plenty of vitamin D and selenium. Selenium has been shown to be important for sperm health, and low vitamin D levels seem to be associated with poor fertility in men and women. Salmon is one of the very best food sources of vitamin D. Just three ounces of smoked salmon will give you 97% of the daily recommended value for vitamin D. 
Wild salmon, avocado, mango and watercress salad
Makes 2 portions
2 slices of wild salmon fillet
1 ripe avocado
1 ripe mango
½ red onion, finely sliced
Juice of 1/2 lime
3-4 large handfuls of water cress
10g fresh coriander finely chopped
Splash of extra virgin olive oil
To make:
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and drizzle a little olive oil over the salmon fillets and wrap in baking paper. Place into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes (until ready).
Meanwhile place the washed watercress into a salad dish. Slice the red onion and place into a small bowl with the lime juice and stir well together with a splash of extra virgin olive oil and the fresh coriander. Pour this over the watercress. Next, cut into slices the avocado and mango flesh and place randomly on top of the watercress. Take the salmon out of the oven and flake over the top of the salad (or keep the fillets intact if you prefer). Serve and Enjoy!
Broccoli
A fantastic superfood containing an array of micronutrients including: vitamins A, C, E, B6, folate, choline, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, manganese and selenium. It also contains plant sterols, which helps to support and balance hormones (thus helping to reduce oestrogen dominance). 
Broccoli soup
Ingredients
800g broccoli heads, roughly chopped
1 litre/1¾ pints vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 finely chopped onion 
150ml/5fl oz natural yoghurt or cream (optional)
1 finely chopped clove of garlic
1 tsp ground coriander and cumin (optional)
Method
Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and fry until just softened. Add the chopped broccoli and vegetable stock. Bring the mixture to the boil and then simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender.  Add the yoghurt or cream (optional) and stir. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add the ground cumin and ground coriander and simmer for a further 1-2 minutes (optional) or season to taste as required with black pepper/pinch of salt. Blend and enjoy!
Avocado
Avocados are amazing! They help balance hormones, contain beneficial fats including oleic acid and alpha-linolenic (an omega 3 fatty acid), and contain over twenty vitamins, minerals and vital nutrients including vitamins B, C and E. They are also a great source of magnesium and potassium. They also contain many phytonutrients including: carotenoids, flavonoids and phytosterols. Avocados are fruits and are also known as ‘alligator pears’ due to the texture of the skin and being shaped like a pear! 
The monounsaturated fat found in avocados also provides the building blocks that the body needs to make both oestrogen and progesterone.
Recipe ideas!
Why not make your own guacamole using ripe avocados, a squeeze of lemon and some chopped garlic -much nicer than bought!
Smashed avocado on wholemeal toast with a poached egg and chilli flakes for breakfast
Add to salads and soups.
Substitute mayonnaise with avocado in sandwiches
Avocado pancakes
Avocado and tomato salsa
Avocado and chocolate mousse
Why not try making this lovely pomegranate guacamole?
Mash up 3 ripe avocados and combine with a tablespoon of fresh lemon juice, 2 cloves of crushed garlic and a finely chopped chilli (optional). Sprinkle with the seeds of a fresh pomegranate and combine! Enjoy as a dip or in wraps.
 

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