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Today is Part Two of the Nurses Study (III), where we explore the findings in relation to dietary protein intakes of the women and its possible links to ovulatory infertility.

To recap - the Nurses Healthy Study (III) was a prospective study. It comprised of:

* 18,555 married, premenopausal women

* Without a history of infertility

* Who tried to conceive between the study period of 1991 to 1999; 8 years

Their diets were assessed twice in the follow up period by using a food frequency questionnaire.

Their diets were assessed in many different nutritional areas:

* Fats

* Carbohydrates

* Proteins

The study found that the women who had the highest protein intakes had a 41% more ovulatory infertility. They also found that when the amount of dietary animal protein increased, even by as little as one serving a day, it resulted in a 32% higher likelihood of ovulatory infertility. Whereas when women ate more plant protein sources over animal sources, they had a 50% decrease in ovulatory infertility. Swapping even just 1 serving of animal protein for a serving of whole grain also reduced ovulatory infertility – this time by 43%. Diet exceptions were eggs, dairy and fish.

Plant Proteins are legumes, but in Australia grain legumes are generally referred to as 'pulses'. The term 'pulse' comes from the Latin pulse which means a 'seed or grain’ and can be made into a thick soup or porridge. The Australian dictionary defines a pulse as edible seed that grows in a pod. Dried peas, broad beans, lentils and chickpeas are the most common varieties of pulses.

In Australia we grow an abundance of pulses, and they are a sustainable practice due to their natural ability to produce nitrogen which enriches the soil, ready for the next crop (environmental improvers). We are one of the largest exporters of chickpeas in the world.

Yes, Hummus is chickpeas, but what about making a Mexican bowl with beans, grilled veggies, avocado and brown rice or adding a tin of 4 beans to your lunch salad with a tin of salmon? The edition or the dinner switch could be more beneficial then we give credit for.

Chavarro J and Willett W. The Fertility Diet.

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