Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapy)
Chickpeas are great nutritionally and contain a good amount of zinc. Zinc is needed to maintain normal levels of the male sex hormone testosterone in the blood and to convert it into the female sex hormone oestrogen. Zinc is also critical in prostate function, sperm formation and sperm motility.
Chickpeas are high in natural oestrogen which can help with balancing hormones to optimise fertility. The protein in chickpeas helps to balance out carbohydrate foods which, when it comes to fertility, is important in the regulation of sugar, and especially important for those with PCOS and also those watching their weight.
The folate provided by chickpeas contributes to red blood cell formation and energy metabolism, may help to prevent early pregnancy defects, is important for sperm quality, helps to counteract stress and inflammation and plays an important role in the prevention of neural tube defects in the developing foetus.
Chickpeas are a good source of choline too. Choline is classed as a B vitamin and the body cannot make enough of it to meet its needs- many people of deficient in it. Studies are now suggesting that it is important during the development of the neural tube and brain in the foetus. So, eat your chickpeas! Egg yolk is another great source of choline as are shiitake mushrooms, potatoes and milk.
The Beetroot in this dip is a good source of the antioxidant resveratrol, which is thought to help combat age-related infertility. Healthy circulation is essential to enable blood flow to the uterus and the nitrate found within beetroot aids this. Promoting circulation to the uterus is crucial for improving uterine health and for pregnancy preparation. For women undergoing IVF treatment with a thin uterine lining, consider trying a glass of beetroot juice each day, in combination with other foods that increase blood flow, such as a handful of blueberries.
Beetroot contains a high level of folate which is essential when it comes to female fertility because it helps to reduce homocysteine levels (an amino acid that helps blood clot). If homocysteine levels are too high there is a chance that blood will clot too easily, which can create blockages that could potentially affect the placenta. Folate is also thought to help with implantation.
Research shows that poor levels of folate (vitamin B9) are linked to a low sperm count and decreased sperm mobility. Beetroot contains a good amount of this vitamin so can help support male fertility. Beetroot contains plenty of vitamins C and E important antioxidants which help prevent free radical damage to the DNA inside the nucleus of the sperm and have been linked to improving sperm quality and preventing sperm agglutination.
You will need:
1 can of chickpeas (you may wish to use dried chickpeas but will need to soak them for a few hours first)
1 beetroot cooked and peeled
2 cloves of garlic crushed
65 ml of olive oil
½ lemon (juice and zest)
3 tsp of tahini (sesame seed paste)
40ml of water
Rinse the chickpeas and tip into a food processor with the olive oil and blitz until smooth. Add the garlic, lemon and tahini paste along with 30ml of water and blitz again. Add water a little at a time as required until you achieve the required consistency. Enjoy your homemade hummus with crudites!