Are you eating seasonally? Eating foods that are available seasonally is one of the many ways to maximize your nutrients. When foods are “in season”, it means they are at their peak freshness, most widely available, and often times the cheapest in comparison to the rest of the year. Even though some foods may be available in the grocery store year round, it’s best to stick to what’s in season, particularly for your area. Buying foods that not in season means they are imported from somewhere, which contributes to environmental pollution with the transport, as well as the additional packaging that often comes with the item. Plus, fruits and vegetables intended for grocery store sale are often picked before they’re ripe so then they ripen as they sit in a truck or on the grocery store shelf, instead of the vine where they would continue to get more nutrients.
Eating seasonally and maximizing your nutrients as a result of that is one way to help support fertility naturally. In our current fall season, there’s a plethora of fruits and vegetables available that are great for fertility function and overall health.
Sweet potatoes – These are pretty high on my list of favorite vegetables. They are staples for me personally as I’ve been needing extra carbs throughout breastfeeding. Full of beta-carotene to be converted into vitamin A, sweet potatoes support natural fertility. They also have vitamin C, iron, and calcium. Fun old wives tale: it’s been said sweet potatoes can help you conceive twins.
– My favorite way to eat sweet potatoes are “baked” in the Instant Pot. Place the steamer basket in the IP basin, and top with 3-4 sweet potatoes. Pour in 1 cup of water. Cook on manual, high pressure for 27 minutes. Quick release the pressure. I love topping baked sweet potatoes with some simple Kerrygold butter and sea salt (both of which are fertility supporters as well), but if you’re feeling extra fancy, sprinkle on some cinnamon.
Beets – Fresh beets are so fantastic for overall health, especially digestion, and full of nutrients, in both the root itself and the greens! They’re chock full of vitamin K, potassium, vitamin C, magnesium, and folate. For more info and to see how they can be beneficial for morning sickness, check out a previous post I did on the beauty of beets.
– I love roasted beets! Peel and chop 3 beets. Coat with some melted bacon fat and spread out on a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt and roast on 400F for about 35-40 minutes, until tender.
Pomegranate – This is one crazy fruit if you ask me, but it’s totally beneficial. Pomegranates are full of antioxidants and are said to improve sperm motility and decrease the abnormal sperm rate. They’re also said to increase blood flow to the uterus. Pomegranates provide nutrients like vitamins C, K, and B6, folate and potassium.
– With this fruit, you’re eating the seeds, or the arils as you might see them marketed. One yummy way to enjoy these are on top of a salad. Many stores will offer a container of pomegranate arils for purchase (which is usually more expensive). If you want to purchase the whole fruit, but are thinking “how in the world do I cut that?”, here’s a video for you. Or you can purchase a 100% juice (check your labels). I love serving this at Thanksgiving dinner mixed half and half with sparkling water for an alcohol-free beverage option.
Pumpkin – This is one of the most common foods thought of when it comes to fall thanks to pumpkin spice everything and good ol’ fashioned pumpkin pie. It’s not typically talked about for its fertility benefits but it should be. With it’s bright orange color, pumpkin is loaded with beta carotene, an antioxidant that protects the body, including the reproductive organs, from free radical damage. Sperm are especially vulnerable to free radical damage so loading up on foods high in beta carotene (and other antioxidants) is beneficial for improving sperm health and quality.
Pumpkin seeds are nutrient dense too! They are high in zinc which is helps improve sperm motility in males and improves egg health in females. Zinc is also necessary for stomach acid production, a very necessary component of digestion and absorbing nutrients. Zinc is a very common nutrient deficiency among our population.
– Pumpkin is amazing in baked goods like pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie, but is also delightful as a dinner side dish. Check out Primal Palate’s collection of 45 different pumpkin recipes. Here’s a good recipe for preparing pumpkin seeds for roasting.
Apples – Apples are my favorite fall food! They’re packed with things with vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium, manganese, vitamin C, and antioxidants. They also provide a good dose of dietary fiber which is helpful for hormone balance by keeping things moving along and excreting excess hormones.
– I love all things apples. One of my favorite snacks (even one of my kids’ favorite snacks!) is a sliced apple with nut butter. They prefer peanut butter still, but I’m all about almond butter, particularly Justin’s individual nut butter packs.
Brussels sprouts – Brussels sprouts provide a ton of nutrients that are great for fertility health! Among them are vitamins A, C, K, B6, and B1, potassium, manganese, iron, and even some fiber, protein and omega 3. Brussels sprouts are also fairly high in folate (the real food version of folic acid). Folate has been known to help prevent neural tube defects in babies, but more recent research has shown that it also helps to improve sperm quality.
– I had never tried Brussels sprouts until I was craving them during my third pregnancy. Isn’t that crazy? I was craving something I never had before, but it was all I wanted. I sautéed shredded Brussels sprouts with pastured bacon fat and topped with sea salt and black pepper. This is my favorite way to enjoy these little power houses.
Focusing on real food that is nutrient dense is a fantastic (and delicious) way to naturally support fertility and preconception health. Eating with the seasons is another step up for the most nutritional benefits.
In good health,