By Sue Bedford MSc Nutritional Therapy
Sweet potato is not only delicious it also provides an array of nutrients including flavonoids, lycopene, potassium, folate, vitamin C and beta carotene. It is a great slow release carbohydrate – important for helping to slow down the release of sugar into the blood stream – especially when enjoyed with a good quality lean protein food at the same time. The beta carotene and other carotenoids contained within sweet potato have a potent antioxidant activity. Free radicals are highly unstable and set off a process called oxidation which can have harmful effects on every cell in the body. 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. When it comes to male fertility, food rich in antioxidants including beta carotene is associated with improving sperm quality in men.
Cauliflower is a nutritional superstar and supports health in many ways. Like all cruciferous vegetables (these include broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts), cauliflower is high in fibre and also provides an assortment of vitamins and minerals that are essential to good health, including vitamin C, vitamin K, folate, and vitamin B6. In addition to the numerous nutrients provided by cauliflowers, they contain a special phytonutrient known as DIM (Diindolylmethane) which has been linked to potentially reducing oestrogen dominance. DIM is a metabolic by-product of I3C (indole-3-carbinol.) Oestrogen dominance is a major cause of many fertility issues in women. Endometriosis, PCOS, fibroids and Ovarian Cysts, are all oestrogen dominant conditions. In a research study it was found that women who ate the most fruit and vegetables had the lowest rates of endometriosis (please see reference for the study below under interesting reading). Both men and women’s bodies can experience oestrogen dominance. Men’s oestrogen levels also increase with age and are subject to the same oestrogen balance problems a female body may face, including improper metabolism of oestrogen. DIM has been shown to inhibit an enzyme called aromatase, which converts testosterone to oestrogen. While more research is needed, it’s thought to help balance hormone levels via its effects on oestrogen.
1 onion chopped
1 small head of cauliflower cut into florets
1 can/carton of coconut milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves crushed
1 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled/finely grated
3 tablespoons fresh coriander chopped (plus more for garnish)
3 chopped sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons red curry paste
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoon turmeric
1 ½ teaspoon cumin
8 fresh chopped tomatoes or 1 can of tomatoes
1 can of chickpeas
Heat the olive oil in a large pan. Add the onions and cook gently until they are soft and translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, and coriander and saute gently for around a minute. Next, add the cauliflower and potatoes along with the red curry paste, curry powder, turmeric, coriander and cumin. Season with salt and pepper and saute for a few more minutes until the vegetables are well coated with the curry paste. Next, add the chickpeas, tomatoes and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat to low. Simmer for 15- 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower and potatoes are soft. Serve with rice and chop some fresh coriander over the top to garnish. Enjoy!
Harris HR, Eke AC, Chavarro JE, Missmer SA. Fruit and vegetable consumption and risk of endometriosis. Hum Reprod. 2018;33(4):715-727. doi:10.1093/humrep/dey014