If I wasn't a dietitian, I would absolutely be an anthropologist. I love learning about other cultures, especially a culture's food, reproductive rituals, dance, and spirituality. So, I thought I'd bring a bit of that to the blog through a new series: Food, Fertility, and Folklore.
I'll be sharing foods that are commonly eaten by women when they're preparing for pregnancy or given as a symbolic gift to bless a couple's fertility in different cultures. Then we'll take a look at the science behind that food and its possible effect on fertility.
First up, cabbage!
Remember those Cabbage Patch Kids dolls? Ever wonder where their name and (slightly zany) backstory came from? In case you don't know, according to their official website, Cabbage Patch Kids are born as a result of bunnybees (whatever those are) pollinating cabbage patches with magical crystal dust.
While I don't know for sure, my guess is this story was at least partially inspired by a few fertility myths and traditions:
- In the UK, cabbage was eaten to promote fertility.
- Parents in the southern states of the US use cabbage to skate around the, "where do babies come from?" question. It's pretty common for parents to tell their kids they found them under cabbage leaves to avoid the uncomfortable truth.
- While in Scotland, children have been known to ask fairies for a new baby for their family on Halloween by stacking cabbage leaves around the entrances to their homes.
Maybe they were on to something...
What the Science Says about Cabbage, Fertility, and Health
Source of Diindolylmethane (DIM)
DIM is found in some vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and, of course, cabbage. It's an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detox promoter. All of which support your fertility and promote wellness.
Antioxidants protect eggs and sperm from oxidative stress, shielding them from damage. While, anti-inflammatories keep your uterus and other reproductive organs healthy, especially if you have any chronic conditions. And as a supporter of your body's natural detox pathways, DIM helps your body rid itself of waste products and properly handle estrogen.
Packs a lot of Fiber
Cabbage, like all vegetables, is full of fiber. Fiber is crucial for gut health and proper detoxification.
Fiber is also an important player in keeping blood sugar stable. Blood sugar stability is important for all women, even more so if you have PCOS. Including fiber rich foods at meals can keep your blood sugar from sudden spikes or dips.
Full of Folate
Every good preconception plan and fertility boosting eating pattern include the daily recommended amount of folate. Fortunately, cabbage is a good source of this super important B vitamin.
1 cup of cooked cabbage delivers about 10% of the amount women should get in a day. While a cup of kimchi provides nearly 20%.
How to Eat More Cabbage
- Add shredded cabbage to tacos or nachos in place of lettuce
- Sautée cabbage as a simple and tasty side dish
- Sprinkle shredded cabbage on salads, wraps, or sandwiches
- Chop cabbage and add it to your favorite soup recipe
- Opt for kimchi stew the next time you go to a Korean restaurant or make your own
- The next time you're making a bliss bowl, add some sauerkraut or kimchi to it
- Blend cabbage into a smoothie in place of the usual kale or spinach
Tradition and science have both made it pretty clear, your health and fertility can be affected by what you eat. Choose foods that make you feel good and that taste good. Hopefully cabbage fits the bill, if not, no worries. There are loads of tasty, nourishing, and fertility supporting food options for you to choose from.
Alright, I wanna hear from you. What are some of your family's traditions around food and fertility?