100 Best Foods For Pregnancy Health V

13 MACKEREL

Mackerel provides essential
omega-3 fatty acids, which
ensure the correct fat balance
in the cells of sperm, egg,
and womb. These also help
to balance female sex
hormones.

It is difficult to underestimate
the importance of omega-3 fatty
acids in our diets in terms of
supporting fertility and also the developing brain of the fetus. In mackerel,
and other oily fish, these fatty acids take the form of DHA
(docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and help to
balance out any excess of omega-6 fatty acids, which our bodies take in the
modern diet from grains and nuts. DHA and EPA help us cope with stress,
too, through the production of the “happy” brain chemicals serotonin and
dopamine, which support libido. Stress reduction is a key component in
addressing fertility issues. The high protein and vitamin-B levels in
mackerel add to the stress-reducing effect by helping to balance blood sugar
and create the energy needed for reproduction.

Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA support reproductive systems and
balance out the hormones needed to make these work.


Omega-3 fatty acids also support healthy sexual function.


Omega-3 fatty acids, alongside protein and the B vitamins, help reduce
stress reactions and boost energy levels ready for fertility.

Practical tips:
Mackerel is one of the safer oily fish to eat because it contains very low
levels of mercury, which is shown to directly affect fertility in both men and
women. However, do not eat more than 12 oz of fish a week during
pregnancy, and avoid king mackerel entirely.

DID YOU KNOW?
Some scientists believe that it was our ancestors’ consumption of oily fish
that contributed to the human brain developing the conscious and cognitive
thought processes that we take for granted today.

Spiced mackerel with tomato salad

SERVES 4 G A Q
4 garlic cloves, crushed
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
heaping 1 tsp ground cumin
heaping 1 tsp smoked paprika
2–3 tbsp olive oil
4 large mackerel fillets, about 6 oz each, or 8 small mackerel fillets, about 3
oz each
Tomato salad
3 medium juicy ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
heaping 1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs, such as thyme, mint, or parsley
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
pepper

Method

  1. Mix together the garlic, lemon zest and juice, cumin, paprika, and oil
    in a small bowl. Put the mackerel fillets in a shallow, nonmetallic dish
    and thoroughly rub both sides with the spice mixture. Cover and let
    marinate in a cool place for 30 minutes, if possible.
  2. Preheat the broiler to high. Lay the mackerel fillets in the broiler pan
    and cook under the preheated broiler for 3 minutes on one side, then
    turn over, drizzle with any remaining marinade, and cook for another
    2–3 minutes, or until the mackerel is cooked through.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the tomato salad. Arrange the tomatoes and onion
    on a serving platter. Put the herbs, oil, and vinegar in a screw-top jar
    and shake well to combine. Season with pepper to taste.
  4. Drizzle the dressing over the tomato salad and serve with the hot
    mackerel fillets.

14 CILANTRO LEAVES

The leaves from the
coriander plant, cilantro has
been shown to remove toxic
metals from our bodies. The
absence of these metals
improves chances of
conception.

Heavy metal toxicity, even at
low levels, can affect men and
women profoundly. Mercury
from fillings, tuna, and vaccinations has been most frequently associated
with female infertility. Male infertility has been predominantly linked to
lead, found in pollution, cigarette smoke, and old pipes. Toxic metals can
hide in the reproductive organs without affecting our day-to-day bodily
systems. The antioxidant nutrients vitamins A and C and carotenoids betacarotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin in cilantro support the plant’s ability to
remove toxic metals by protecting the cells and tissues they can harm.
Cilantro has also been shown to protect calcium levels in the body by
reducing the lead buildup in bone.

Effectively and safely removes toxic metals, such as mercury and lead,
that are linked to female and male infertility.


High antioxidant levels protect the body tissues as toxic metals leave
the body.


Helps restore calcium levels in bone by removing lead.


The fragrant volatile oils are antimicrobials, which help destroy
immune-stressing invaders.

Practical tips:
Add fresh cilantro to salads, and use to garnish soups, stews, and curries
just before serving to preserve the nutrients. Add a handful to a juice or
smoothie or create a simple pesto by adding a few chopped teaspoons to
Brazil nuts, olive oil, and garlic.

DID YOU KNOW?
The fragrant aroma from cilantro leaves heralds the potency of their
pungent oils. As strong antimicrobial agents, these oils ward off infections
that can interfere with conception.

Turkey skewers with cilantro pesto

SERVES 4 A N
1 lb skinless, boneless turkey, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 zucchini, thickly sliced
1 red and 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 2-inch squares
8 cherry tomatoes
8 pearl onions, peeled but left whole
Marinade
4 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp green peppercorns, crushed
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
Cilantro pesto
3½ cups fresh cilantro
15 fresh parsley sprigs
1 garlic clove
½ cup pine nuts
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon

Method

  1. Place the turkey in a large bowl. To make the marinade, mix the olive
    oil, mustard, peppercorns, and cilantro together in a pitcher. Pour the
    mixture over the turkey and turn until the turkey is thoroughly coated.
    Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  2. Preheat the broiler to medium–high. To make the cilantro pesto, put
    the cilantro and parsley into a food processor and process until finely
    chopped. Add the garlic and pine nuts and pulse until chopped. Add
    the Parmesan, oil, and lemon juice and process briefly to mix. Transfer
    to a bowl, cover, and let chill in the refrigerator until required.
  3. Thread the turkey (reserving the marinade), zucchini, bell peppers,
    cherry tomatoes, and onions alternately onto presoaked wooden
    skewers. Broil under medium–high heat, turning and brushing
    frequently with the marinade, for 10–12 minutes. Serve immediately
    with the cilantro pesto.

15 CINNAMON

Cinnamon is a powerful
spice and a traditional
aphrodisiac. It also helps
reduce cravings for sweet
foods that rob us of the
nutrients we need for
reproduction.

The active compound in cinnamon, methylhydroxychalcone
polymer (MHCP), acts in the same way as the hormone insulin, taking
sugars from dietary sources from the bloodstream into our cells to be used
as energy. Eating too many refined sugars in the form of cakes, cookies, and
candies causes sudden surges of sugar into the bloodstream and sets up a
cycle of sugar highs and lows, whereby the body regularly craves sugar and
often caffeine in order to pull itself out of an energy slump. Just half a
teaspoon of cinnamon per day has been shown to decrease excess blood
sugar and put an end to these cravings. Cinnamon is also a strong
antioxidant and works hard to protect the body from damage.

Contains the substance MHCP, which evens out blood sugar levels and
supports a sustained release of energy.


Breaks the cycles of dependence on sugar, caffeine, and other
stimulants that undermine fertility.


Its powerful antioxidant properties help prevent and even repair
damage caused by excess dietary sugars.

Practical tips:
Powdered cinnamon spice is stronger than the stick form, but it does not
stay fresh for as long—replace when the characteristic smell has faded.
Cinnamon naturally sweetens food, so add to juices, oatmeal, yogurt, or
cereal. Do not take supplements or consume cinnamon in large amounts
during pregnancy.

DID YOU KNOW?
In traditional Chinese medicine, cinnamon is used to treat infertility by
increasing male yang energy and by increasing blood flow to the
reproductive organs in both sexes.

Cinnamon, apple, and blackberry crunch

SERVES 2 A N V Q
2 apples, peeled, cored, and diced
½ cup water
½ cup rolled oats
1 tsp ground cinnamon, plus extra for sprinkling
3 tsp honey
1 cup blackberries
1 cup Greek yogurt with live cultures
2 tbsp slivered almonds
Method

  1. Put the apples and the water in a saucepan and stew, covered, for 10–
    12 minutes, until tender. Mash with the back of a fork or potato masher
    to make a coarse applesauce.
  2. Meanwhile, toast the oats in a large, dry, nonstick skillet for 5 minutes,
    tossing regularly, until light golden. Remove from the skillet and let
    cool.
  3. When the apples are cooked, stir in the cinnamon, 2 teaspoons of the
    honey, and the blackberries.
  4. To serve, put one-quarter of the oats in each of 2 large wine glasses or
    bowls. Top each with one-quarter of the yogurt, then half of the fruit
    mixture, followed by half of the remaining yogurt. Divide the rest of
    the oats, scatter over the tops, and drizzle with the honey. To finish,
    sprinkle with a little extra cinnamon and the almonds.

16 MISO

In Japanese culture, miso has
a long association with
female health and fertility.
Most Japanese include it in
the diet several times a
week.

Miso is made by fermenting
soybeans. In common with other
traditional
fermented food, such
as yogurt, it can help support the
immune and digestive systems, which keeps bacteria from causing harm
and interfering with fertility. Miso also contains a plant form of estrogen
that cleverly adjusts the levels in our body if they are too high or too low.
This effect can be thrown out of balance, however, if too much is eaten.
Miso also contains vitamin K, which is needed to transport calcium to our
bones. A prospective mother needs to be sure she has optimum levels of
calcium before pregnancy so that her stores don’t get depleted by the
growing baby’s skeleton.

A fermented food that supports good digestion and encourages our
immune system to ward off harmful infections.


A plant form of estrogen that can help correct sex hormone imbalances
when eaten a few times a week.


Contains vitamin K, which helps calcium to mineralize into bone in
preparation for good mother and baby bone health.

Practical tips:

The most common form of miso (hatcho) is made from soybeans and this
has the highest hormone-balancing effect. If you are intolerant to soybeans,
try rice, barley, or wheat misos. The paste form is far superior to the
powder. Make a simple miso soup by boiling dark leafy greens lightly in
water and adding paste to taste. Miso is high in sodium, so use it in
moderation.

DID YOU KNOW?
Although soybean products have been the subject of controversy, natural,
fermented soybean foods, such as miso and tempeh, have been shown to
support fertility.

Miso fish soup

SERVES 4 G A N Q
3½ cups fish stock or vegetable stock
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
red chile 1 , seeded and finely sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
½ cup thin daikon thin strips, or ½ bunch radishes, trimmed and sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
3 oz shiitake mushrooms, sliced if large
1½ oz fine egg noodles
8 oz sole fillets, skinned and cut into strips
1 tbsp miso paste
4 scallions, trimmed and shredded

Method

  1. Pour the stock into a large saucepan and add the ginger, fish sauce, and
    chile. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the carrot with the daikon, bell pepper, mushrooms, and noodles
    and simmer for an additional 3 minutes.
  3. Add the fish strips with the miso paste and continue to cook for 2
    minutes, or until the fish is tender. Divide equally among 4 warm soup
    bowls, top with the scallions, and serve.

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