What can you eat that’s currently in season that can help with conception? Well, this season’s beetroot may not be everyone’s favourite vegetable, but it is in season in January and February so is at its best right now. In studies, numerous health benefits of consuming beetroot have been identified such as: helping to lower blood pressure, improved brain function and memory, along with improving circulation and blood flow. Eating beetroot helps to increase blood circulation because beetroot is rich in nitrate.
Enhanced circulation, and a reduction in blood pressure happens through the conversion of dietary nitrate (NO3) to biologically active nitrate (NO2) and then into nitric oxide (NO). The nitrate in beetroot juice is rapidly absorbed in the stomach and small intestine, allowing for quick conversion of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is an important vasodilator, which increases circulation throughout the body, including the uterus. Beetroot contains betacyanin, a powerful antioxidant, which has been shown to reduce homocysteine levels. Beetroot is also a very good source of iron which is a key component in preventing anaemia by sustaining healthy red blood cell counts.
How does beetroot help with conception?
A healthy circulation is essential to enable a good blood flow to the uterus. Promoting circulation to the uterus is crucial for improving uterine health and in preparation for a successful pregnancy. For those women undergoing IVF treatment who may have problems with a thin uterine lining, we recommend a glass of beetroot juice a day taken 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 may cut off the placenta and cause miscarriage. Folate is also thought to help with egg implantation.
Research has shown 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 boost male fertility. Beetroot contains plenty of vitamins C and E which are also essential for healthy sperm.
Try these recipe ideas to help you to include beetroot into your fit for fertility diet!
Use organic ingredients wherever possible.
Try this beetroot super juice!
2 beetroot – peeled, stem removed
1 cup spinach – washed well
6 carrots, peeled – stem removed
1 large Granny Smith apple – stem removed, washed well
1 small lemon – washed well
1 inch piece of ginger root – peeled
Makes approximately two large glasses.
Place 1 beetroot in the juicer first, then add the ginger, spinach, carrots, apple, lemon and the final beetroot! Whizz together and enjoy!
Chocolate Beetroot Brownies
- 400g (2-3 medium beetroot) beetroot, chopped
- 150g dark cooking chocolate
- 100g butter
- 1tsp vanilla extract
- 200g brown sugar
- 3 free-range eggs
- 100g wholemeal plain flour
- 30g cocoa powder
- Top, tail and peel the beetroot. Roughly chop and place into a large bowl. Add a splash of water, cover with cling film – pierced with a few small holes – then microwave on high for 10 minutes, or until tender.
- Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter and line a 20cm x 30cm tin. Roughly chop the chocolate and cut the butter into cubes.
- Drain the beetroot through a sieve, then place into a food processor with the chocolate, butter and vanilla. Whizz until the mix has melted and is as smooth as you can get it.
- Using an electric hand mix, whisk the sugar and eggs in a large bowl for about 2 minutes or until thick, pale and foamy.
- Spoon the beetroot mixture into the bowl with the whisked eggs. Then, using a large metal spoon, gently fold the beetroot into the whisked eggs, keeping as much air in the mixture as you can. Sift the flour and cocoa powder into the bowl and gently fold in to make a smooth batter.
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 20-25 minutes or until risen all over. Try to keep it slightly moist on the inside. Cool the chocolate beetroot brownies completely in the tin, then cut into squares. Makes 15-20 squares
Why not try the following ways of adding beetroot to your diet?
- Try finely grated fresh beetroot mixed with horseradish and crème fraiche with smoked trout and organic seeded bread.
- Roast baby beetroot and butternut squash – Cut beetroot and butternut squash into round slices, arrange into an overnproof dish. Drizzle with a little rape seed oil and scatter with fresh thyme, then roast for about 40 minutes.
- Try raw, finely sliced beetroot with baby spinach and torn buffalo mozzarella with a sweet balsamic and olive oil dressing.
- Make a colourful grated beetroot and carrot salad with a dressing of rape seed oil, apple cider vinegar and a little honey. This makes a fabulously healthy light meal.
- Try quartering small fresh beetroot, tossing in olive oil, balsamic vinegar and whole garlic cloves. Add some fresh oregano, thyme or marjoram, place in a tinfoil pouch to avoid burning and roast in a hot oven.