Men who want healthy sperm, which is critical for optimal male fertility, should reduce their consumption of fat, especially saturated fat. A new study in Human Reproduction shows that men who ate large amounts of fat had significantly lower sperm production and concentration than men who ate less fat.
Prior to this study, little has been known about the impact of diet on the health of sperm, although a few studies have suggested specific nutrients may have an effect on semen quality and animal studies have indicated that dietary fat may influence male fertility.
The new study involved 99 men (mean age, 36) who were participating in an ongoing study of fertility and environmental factors. All the participants were classified by their dietary fat intake: 26%, 32%, and 37% of total daily caloric intake, with corresponding figures for saturated fat being 8%, 10%, and 13%.
After taking into account body mass index and a number of other lifestyle factors, analysis of the men’s sperm and seminal fluids revealed that men who consumed the greatest amount of saturated fat had a 41% lower sperm concentration when compared with men who consumed less saturated fat. A positive impact on sperm structure was associated with increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids.
Attaman JA et al. Dietary fat and semen quality among men attending a fertility clinic. Human Reproduction 2012; 27 (5): 1466-74.