Optimising your fertility through diet is achieved by eating a variety of nutritious foods most of the time. A diverse diet of whole foods is the key to this this. Whilst I don’t think you need to be stocking your pantry with
every super food you’ve heard of there are some really easy ways to increase your range of highly nutritious foods. Seeds are often over looked but are extremely good for hormone health and are a versatile, cheap and easy food to add to your diet.
Benefits of seeds for fertility
The benefits of adding seeds to your diet include:
- being a source of soluble fibre (great for bowel health),
- vitamin E,
- healthy oils, and
- they will increase you feeling of satiety (fullness after a meal) which is useful if you are trying to avoid snacking between meals.
The many ways to add seeds to your diet
Seeds are incredibly versatile and can be added to most meals. They can be eaten on their own as snack,
sprinkled on stir frys, salads, muesli or yoghurt. Or they can be ground in a spice grinder and added to your morning smoothies, muesli, yoghurt.
How to prepare seeds for optimal absorption
- Grinding – Seeds are absorbed more easily when they are ground. I grind mine in a spice grinder (which I believe is the same as a coffee grinder) which I bought in a department store. I grind mine in bulk (a couple of weeks worth at a time) to save time and then store them in a glass jar. If you grind your seeds in advance keep them in the fridge or freezer to keep the oils fresh.
- Soaking – Seeds contain phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors which means they don’t germinate when they aren’t in the right environment but also binds to their minerals which prevents us digesting and absorbing them properly. Soaking seeds will activate the sprouting process which helps release these bound nutrients, including protein, fats, vitamins or minerals such as calcium and zinc, increasing your body’s ability to absorb all that goodness. Starting the sprouting process is as easy as soaking your seeds in water overnight and then eating them the following day. You can also dehydrate them for future use if you are inclined, there are instructions available in this article if that’s something you are interested in.
Different types of seeds
- Flaxseeds (also known as linseeds) – these seeds contain lignans which are a phytoestrogen which can relieve some of the symptoms of low oestrogen in women, such as vaginal dryness. Some of my clients who are seeking help for fertility report increased fertile mucous and those with peri-menopausal symptoms report relief from vaginal dryness, hot flushes and night sweats, when they add flaxseeds to their diet. These seeds are also the richest plant source of the omega-3 essential fatty acid alpha linolenic acid (ALA). ALA is not naturally produced by the body so has to come from your diet and is essential for heart, brain, joint and immune health. You can also buy flax/linseed oil which you could add to smoothies or drizzle on salads.
- hemp seeds – high in ALA. These seeds are a complete protein and contain all the amino acids.
- pumpkin seeds (pepitas) – most tolerated seed if you are following a low FODMAP diet.
- sunflower seeds – best source of Vitamin E.
- chia seeds – high in ALA
- sesame seeds – great source of vitamin E (important for fertility) and have the highest concentration of phytosterols, which lowers cholesterol levels by reducing its absorption. Unhulled sesame seeds have 9-10 times the calcium of hulled sesame seeds. Black sesame seeds are higher in antioxidants then the white ones.