By: Kriszta Tiwari, Kindbody Holistic Nutritionist
With fall already here and winter just around the corner, it is super important to eat healthy in order to best support our immune system. During this time of the year we often crave rich soups, stews made out of hearty vegetables and it’s for good reason! Our bodies need every nutrient that these deep colored winter produce can offer. Butternut squash, beets, kale, chard, cabbage, brussels sprouts, pomegranate, apples and persimmons are rich in vitamins and minerals needed to boost our immune system, but did you know that these micronutrients are also crucial for fertility health?
Adequate micronutrient levels are strongly associated with female and male reproductive health, the ability to ovulate, produce sperm, conceive and support healthy pregnancy and birth. Additionally, fall and winter vegetables are a great source of fiber which has an important role in gut health, hormone balance- particularly estrogen metabolism and prolonging the Luteal Phase (post ovulation/conception phase). Excess estrogen binds to fiber and becomes eliminated with stool instead of reabsorbing and causing hormone imbalances. (1,2)
Read along to see my favorite fertility healthy winter foods!
Kale has its reputation as a super food for good reason! It’s packed with immune system supporting vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, A, K, B6, copper, manganese and calcium. Kale is rich in antioxidants like beta carotene and quercetin which fight against oxidative damage in our cells, including the egg and sperm.
This delicious fall vegetable is loaded with vitamin A, C, E- called the ACEs of micronutrients because of their powerful immune supporting role. Butternut squash is rich in carotenoids hence the beautiful color. Carotenoids are precursors of vitamin A, meaning our bodies convert them into the active form of vitamin A needed for healthy growth and embryonic development.
These cute little green balls from the cruciferous family are rich in blood sugar regulating and hormone balancing compounds such as sulforaphane and DIM. (3,4,5) These chemical compounds have been found to help reduce PCOS. Brussels sprouts are also rich in fiber which supports healthy digestion and help us to feel full longer.
Legumes and pulses
Legumes contain minerals that a lot of women of childbearing age are deficient in. Magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron and iodine are all extremely important for the development of the baby and breastfeeding after childbirth. Legumes are also rich in fiber. Eat chickpeas, beans, lentils and peas regularly.
For some, legumes can be hard to digest due to their phytate and oligosaccharide content. Soaking these overnight and cooking them with a splash of apple cider vinegar and kombu (seaweed) can help break down those phytochemicals.
This beautiful fruit is not only delicious but also packed with important vitamins like vitamin C and antioxidants. Besides its role in supporting our immune system, vitamin C is also used in the body to protect the egg and sperm from oxidative damage.
Small but mighty, these seeds are loaded with magnesium, zinc and vitamin K. Magnesium is needed for cellular energy production, to maintain balance between estrogen and progesterone and to support sleep. Vitamin K1 plays a crucial role in blood clotting and calcium absorption for bone health. Zinc has been long known to support sperm health.
Combine these foods with healthy fats and protein and you get the best nutrient dense meals that will support optimal conception.
Kale, delicata squash & pomegranate seed salad
6-8 servings as a side salad
1 delicata squash halved, deseeded, cut into ¼ inch slices
2 bunches of kale, washed, cored and chopped or 16 oz bag of chopped kale
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
¼ cup toasted pepitas
1 tbsp avocado oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp honey
½ tsp of cayenne pepper (optional)
Zest & juice of one lemon
Salt pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 400 F.
- Toss delicata squash with avocado oil, salt and pepper on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread the pieces out evenly and bake for 20 minutes or until squash is fork tender and just beginning to brown.
- While squash is cooking, place kale in a salad bowl, add olive oil and salt and massage until the leaves are wilted (this trick removes any bitterness in the kale leaves and makes them moist).
- In a small bowl whisk together all other ingredients and toss with the massaged kale.
- Transfer salad onto a platter top with delicata squash pieces, pomegranate seeds and pepitas.
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