We field a lot of questions about super foods (fertility foods) at FGHG with lots of people wondering if they will be the miracle missing ingredient for their fertility challenges. We thought it would be great to get one of our naturopaths to talk about what superfoods are really the best fertility foods. And we were surprised by the outcome of our discussion – though of course on reflection, it makes complete sense! It seems that while some foods are indeed more super than others, there is no such thing as a miracle food. Getting the basics right, day to day, is the most important step and there are some ‘superfood’ basics that are still commonly over looked by many people.
You’ll see a great example of this at any big shopping centre when trying to find something decent to eat (not an easy task!). You’ll see fast food retailers offering things like “superfood” kebabs which might include acai, goji, quinoa and other additions (probably in trace amounts – a token gesture). Notice this same retailer also sells chips and soft drinks, fatty meat, fried foods and kebabs! This feels like such gimmicky and cynical marketing and certainly not the way that superfoods are best utilized. It gives superfoods a bad name and as well as an undeserved reputation!
There is a lot of talk about superfoods and all the amazing things they have to offer for just about every conceivable human ailment and worry. From Cacao to Gubinge, Maca to Goji and Acai the promises include increased fertility, cures for cancer, recovery from all sorts of disease, anxiety and woe. Certainly these foods have so much to offer and definitely can be considered to be powerful, nutrient dense foods with super qualities.
However, they fall short of being miracle foods. No amount of goji berries is going to make up for the 2 or 3 coffees or cokes you might drink in a day or if you gorge on junk food week after week. If you haven’t got the basics covered, superfoods are not your miracle cure-all for a modern-day poor lifestyle.
While super foods can be fantastic, they are often sold in packed and highly processed ways – packaged, refined, dehydrated, powdered so their nutrient content and/or vitality can be affected to some extent – not to mention the cost! If your super foods come in a chocolate bar with a whole lot of sugar – forget it! It is much better to eat whole live food, preferably locally grown or even better straight from your garden!
Superfoods are a useful and highly beneficial addition to your already amazing diet. But of course, as always, there is no quick fix and no way around eating the basic superfoods every meal, every day for ultimate health! Every meal matters! Without this basis the other stuff is little more than a gimmick.
Here are our Naturopath Tina Jenkins top tips for the daily essential top super and fertility foods for fertility and health!
Green leafy vegetables! This bunch of vegies pack a punch full of fibre, folic acid, Vitamins C and K. Due to their folic acid content they are essential for women who are trying to conceive as well those already pregnant. However, they are equally as important for healthy sperm as folic acid helps in the turnover of DNA (our genetic material). Green vegies include silverbeet, spinach, various types of lettuce, parsley, bok choy, kai lan, choy sum, kale etc. They are wonderful to throw into a soup or stirfry or to make into a green smoothie.
NB: Raw greens such as Kale are best avoided by those with thyroid problems, however, if they are fine if cooked.
Salmon – The king/queen of the sea! Salmon is one of the richest sources of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. It’s a wonderful source of protein, selenium and B vitamins, especially B12. If you cook it well and eat the bones then you will also give your calcium levels a boost! Most of the salmon in Australia is farmed but the best source is Huon Tasmanian salmon. Go to http://www.huonaqua.com.au/locator/ to find your nearest stockist.
Blueberries – Packed full of antioxidants! Blueberries are low in fruit sugar and are thus considered a “low GI” fruit, great for women with PCOS or people trying to lose weight. They make a great snack on their own or can be added to some plain yoghurt for a more filling treat. They are a good source of fibre, vitamin C, manganese and Vitamin K. And they taste delicious!
Eggs – Free range, organic eggs are one of our best sources of protein, vitamin D, B12, zinc, phosphorus and selenium. Yes, they contain cholesterol, so speak to your naturopath if it is a problem for you however, as part of a healthy diet that is low in saturated fat and high in healthy fats, a little cholesterol is required in the diet. From a fertility point of view, we need cholesterol as this is what all of our hormones are made from (that includes both oestrogen and testosterone).
A boiled/poached egg is a great addition to a meal and it is also great made into a thin omelette “wrap” rolled up around a variety of fillings (e.g. asparagus, salmon etc).
LSA – ground up linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds make up this wonderful mix of nutrients (especially magnesium and zinc) and fibre. Sprinkle it over yoghurt, fruit or cereals or pop it into a smoothie.
Yoghurt – a great source of “friendly bacteria” which is essential for optimal absorption of nutrients in the gut and has the added benefit of keeping your immune system strong. It’s also a great source of calcium. Choose organic, full-fat unflavoured yoghurt. A favourite snack of mine is yoghurt and blueberries topped with a tablespoon of “LSA” (available in the healthfood section of your supermarket).
Pumpkin seeds – These little seeds are often forgotten amongst some of their more well-known cousins, however, they are a great source of zinc. Zinc is especially important for both men and women trying to conceive as it is an essential nutrient for sperm health and also for a baby’s growth and development. Have pumpkin seeds raw and untoasted to receive optimal nutrients and add them to salads or have them as a snack.
Quinoa – Quinoa is the only grain (well it’s technically a seed) which is a complete protein i.e. it contains the 9 essential amino acids. It is a great source of fibre, is rich in essential fatty acids, iron, lysine (great if you suffer from cold sores), magnesium, B2 and manganese. Quinoa is also gluten free. Nutritionally it is superior to pasta and is a great accompaniment to a curry or stew/casserole. Quinoa can also be made into a porridge which is lovely topped with some of our other superfoods: blueberries, LSA and yoghurt!
Brown rice – A lovely nutritious grain that contains so many goodies: fibre, B vitamins, Magnesium, Zinc etc. It is far more filling than white rice which means you need to eat less to feel full. B vitamins and Magnesium are nutrients that are used up a lot during periods of stress (and trying to get pregnant can be a stressful time for many couples). Brown rice is also wonderful made up into a porridge or a congee (either with a water or stock base); either sweet (with cinnamon, stewed fruit etc) or savoury (with chicken stock, shitake or reishi mushrooms, green leafy vegies).
Rolled Oats – A great source of fibre, B vitamins, Selenium, Zinc and Magnesium. So many wonderful nutrients for fertility! They also have the added bonus of helping lower cholesterol as well as improving bowel function. Traditionally oats have a long history of use in herbal medicine where they are used for their nourishing action on the nervous system and to help restore energy.