Fertility diets: the fatty foods that can support fertility
Good fats are not to be feared when it comes to fertility - it's about the type of fat that matters. Dietician Wendy Fedele reveals all you need to know, plus shares a delicious Sausage Roll recipe packed with 'good' fats and nutrients to support fertility.
Filo pastry sausage rolls with balsamic spinach salad
When it comes to your fertility diet, fats certainly don’t need to be feared – in fact we need adequate amounts for hormone production, to help us absorb fat soluble nutrients and other protective compounds from food. They’re also super important for your baby’s growth and development once you’re pregnant.
BUT here’s the thing: the type of fat you choose matters. Monounsaturated and Omega 3 polyunsaturated fats that we find in foods such as Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Avocado, Nuts and Seeds, and Oily fish are anti-inflammatory and associated with improved fertility for both sexes.
On the other hand, research suggests that we want to limit our intake of saturated fat when trying to conceive – this is found in foods like fatty meats, butter, cream, coconut and palm oil, baked goods, chocolate and fried foods.
And then we have industrially produced trans fats, which we want to avoid as much as possible. We’ve known for a while that trans fats are not good for our heart health, but research has also shown they’re also associated with increased risk of infertility. While levels have reduced in our food supply, they’re still hanging around in higher amounts in certain foods and as it’s not mandatory to list trans fats on food labels, they can be tricky to spot. Some ways you can ensure you’re keeping them to a minimum include:
- Eating more wholefoods and less highly processed foods - trans fats do occur naturally in some foods but we're more concerned about the industrially produced ones.
- Looking out for partially hydrogenated vegetable oils on ingredients lists and avoiding these items
- Avoiding using solid vegetable cooking oils (like copha) and limiting blended vegetable oils - use Extra Virgin Olive Oil whenever you can!
- Limiting commercially produced baked goods like packaged croissants, donuts cakes, slices, prepared pastry, meat pies, and sausage rolls.
Love your sausage rolls? Never fear, I’ve got you covered! Here’s a fertility friendly sausage roll recipe made with filo pastry to remove the trans fats, and lean meats to reduce the amount of saturated fat – plus added veggies to boost your nutrient and antioxidant intake – enjoy!
- ½ cup carrot – grated
- ½ cup zucchini – grated and drained/ squeezed to remove excess liquid (don’t skip this step. I tend to squeeze it between paper towel/cloths)
- 1 medium brown onion, finely diced
- 2/3 bunch of parsley - finely chopped
- ½ tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil + extra for brushing
- 70g tomato paste
- 1 tsp paprika
- 260g lean beef or pork mince
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 9 sheets of filo pastry
- 100g pinenuts
- 250g baby spinach leaves
- A small bunch of fresh mint – leaves picked and chopped
- 5 jarred sundried tomatoes - sliced
- 1 medium cucumber – sliced
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (depending on how strong you like the flavour
- Juice of ½ lemon
- Optional: ½ teaspoon of honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
Start by preheating your oven to ~ 180 degrees.
Heat ½ tablespoon of olive oil in a pan over medium heat – cook onion, zucchini and carrot and a pinch of salt, until soft. Add tomato paste, paprika and parsley and cook for another minute or so. Now add your mince and mix through, then take off the heat.
Layer 3 sheets of your filo pastry, one on top of another and lightly brush olive oil between each layer. Spread a ¼ of the mixture along the short edge. Brush or spray lightly with oil and roll up into a log. Repeat this step for the remaining pastry and mixture.
Cut your logs into your desired sausage roll size and place on a prepared tray, then lightly brush/ spray the tops of the sausage rolls with a little olive oil
Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, or until they are golden on the outside and the mince is cooked through.
Start by lightly toasting your pinenuts in a large frying pan over medium heat, tossing occasionally to avoid burning. Once they’re lightly golden transfer to a small bowl and leave to cool down
Now make your dressing – in a small jar add your balsamic vinegar, juice of ½ lemon, olive oil + a pinch of salt and pepper (+ honey if using). Put the lid on and shake vigorously to combine.
Now add your salad ingredients – the spinach, chopped mint, sliced cucumber sundried tomatoes – to a large salad bowl, along with the toasted pinenuts. Pour in the salad dressing and toss to combine.
Serve the salad along-side your sausage rolls, with your favourite relish on the side!