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Sperm concentrations and counts have been declining over the past few decades, and experts are worried that this may signal the beginning of the end of human reproduction. Although this may sound like a dramatic statement, investigators are working to find ways to boost male fertility, and one of those ways may be through diet. More specifically, men may want to go nuts for male fertility.
What damages male fertility?
Men are at risk of reduced male fertility if they:
- Are overweight or obese
- Are exposed to air pollution
- Follow a Western style diet
- Use products that contain xenoestrogens, such as many personal health care items (e.g., shampoos, deodorants, lotions, soaps), commercially-raised meat and dairy products, artificial food additives, soy protein isolate, tap water, pesticides, and more
- Use steroids
- Undergo chemotherapy
- Have variococele
- Have low vitamin C and zinc levels
- Use marijuana and/or opiates
When you look at this list, there are some obvious things men can do to help preserve their fertility. For example, don’t use steroids, marijuana, or opiates; don’t smoke; lost excess weight; and avoid products that contain xenoestrogens. According to the findings of a recent study, nuts figure into the preventive scheme as well.
Nuts for sperm health
Could nuts help with sperm health? The results of a randomized, controlled study were presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology’s annual meeting in Barcelona, Spain, suggested this may be so. A group of 119 healthy males (18-35 years) were randomly assigned to include 60 grams per day of various nuts (e.g., almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts) to their Western-style diet or to follow their typical diet with adding nuts. Sperm and blood samples were collected from all participants both before and after the dietary trial.
Compared with the men who did not eat nuts, those who did showed:
- A 16 percent higher sperm count
- A 4 percent higher sperm vitality level (amount of healthy sperm cells in semen)
- A 6 percent improvement in sperm motility (the ability of sperm to move)
- A 1 percent improvement in sperm morphology (the cells’ normal healthy size and shape)
- Less DNA fragmentation, which means genetic integrity was better preserved
All of these findings, according to Dr. Albert Salas-Huertos and his colleagues, “support a beneficial role for chronic nut consumption in sperm quality.”
What’s so special about nuts? Nuts provide lots of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins, which may be one reason for the boost in sperm health. Overall, a healthy diet is believed to help conception, and nuts are part of a nutritious lifestyle. A moderate amount of nuts—1/2 to 1 ounce daily or several times a week depending on one’s calorie intake—could be helpful for sperm health. However, more research is needed in this area.
Cohut M. Does a nut-rich diet lead to better sperm quality? Medical News Today 2018 Jul 7
A diet rich in nuts improves sperm count and motility. Presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology annual meeting. 2018 Jul 4