This week’s key diet ingredient: Zinc Zinc is an incredibly important mineral. It is the one that plays a vital role for the protein synthesis. Benefits include support for the immune system and improvement of stress control. Zinc improves energy metabolism, may reduce acne and improves healing. It also offers other benefits, such as healthier hair and nail growth and reduces problems with eczema or frequent colds. Zinc may also help with weight loss, as well as reduce appetite; it may improve eye sight and reduce night blindness. Zinc Deficiency When people have problems with zinc deficiency, they are potentially exposed to chromosome changes that contribute to infertility and even increased risk of miscarriage. However, for women, it is very unusual, even rare, for a woman to have a zinc deficiency. As important as zinc is for women, it may even be more important for men. Scientists most often connect zinc to male fertility. It is linked to the production of semen and testosterone. Zinc is the mineral responsible for creation of a healthy sperm cell. Even a reduced amount of zinc in the diet may cause sperm abnormalities, such as reduced sperm count and inefficient sperm motility. As always, ask you doctor for guidance. Luckily, it’s easy to find a good source of zinc. All meat, poultry and dairy contain significant amounts of the mineral. Try one cup of Cheerios for breakfast and you’re done. Only two oysters have enough to surpass the recommended daily allowance. Try mussels, clams, spinach pumpkin seeds and eggs, egg yolks to be specific. Brewer’s yeast and wheat germ are also excellent sources, especially for the vegan. Wheat germ is easily added to recipes and can be a topping on a salad or side dish. Wilted Spinach with Garlic Always buy organic spinach. Ingredients 2 tbl olive oil 2 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in paper thin slices 12 ounces organic spinach leaves, rinsed with stems removed Sea salt to taste Ground pepper to taste 1 lemon Preparation Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant but not browned, about 30 seconds. Add the spinach and stir until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve immediately, with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over the spinach. Serves 2-4. Spinach and Mushroom Omelete Ingredients 3 large eggs 2 tbl whole milk 4 tsp olive oil 1/3 cup sliced mushrooms, your choice 1/8 tsp dried thyme 1/3 cup baby spinach leaves, washed, stems removed 1/3 cup whole milk ricotta cheese Preparation Crack the eggs into a bowl; add the milk and salt and pepper and beat with a fork until well blended; set aside. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Add the thyme and stir until the mushrooms are browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the spinach and stir until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer the mushroom mixture to a bowl and set aside. Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan and then slowly pour in the egg mixture, tilting the pan to cover the bottom of the pan evenly. Let the eggs cook for about 15 seconds. As the egg mixture begins to set, lift the edge with a spatula an tilt the pan slightly to let uncooked egg flow underneath. Repeat this around the sides of the pan until the surface is moist but nearly set. Spoon the ricotta and the mushroom mixture over half of the omelet. With the spatula, fold the omelet in half over the filling. Slide the omelet onto a plate and eat! Makes one large omelet, enough to share if you are so inclined. Fertility fact: Women who get most of their iron from nonmeat sources, like spinach, better their chances of getting pregnant compared to women who get most of their iron from meat sources. Source: Cooking to Conceive, eZineArticles.com, ABC.com, Men’s Health photo by: Ghokhan Okur Lifestyle choices affect your health. Whether you are prepping for pregnancy, birth or an energetic parenthood, diet impacts your body, your mood and your success. Obviously significant fertility issues cannot be cured with a change in lifestyle, medical intervention is often times necessary. However, the right minerals found in a balanced diet can help maintain optimal hormone levels and keep your reproductive organs healthy.