Does a Nut-rich Diet Improve Sperm Quality?

According to recent studies, sperm count is on the decline in Western societies. Researchers suggest that a healthful diet that is rich in nuts might help.

A large meta-analysis focusing on men’s reproductive health in 2017 in Western countries discovered that sperm concentration, and sperm count, have been steadily on the decline for the past 30 years.

READ ALSO: Blood in Semen (Hematospermia)

This means that male fertility has been dropping at an alarming rate, and it is essential to stabilize this situation.

A team of researchers at the Human Nutrition Unit of the Universitat Rovira i Virgil in Reus, Spain, suggested that what men include — or fail to include — in their diets on a daily basis could expressively affect the quality of the sperm that they produce.

The scientists noted that environmental factors such as smoking, pollution, and trends toward a Western-style diet may be partly responsible for the seeming male fertility disaster.

The recent project was a randomized controlled study that specifically examined the effect of nut consumption on sperm health.

It is important to note that the study was funded by the International Nut and Dried Food Council.

The results were presented at the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology‘s annual meeting, held in Barcelona, Spain, by study author Dr. Albert Salas-Huetos.

For the study, Dr. Salas-Huertos and his team worked with 119 healthy male participants aged 18–35, the volunteers were randomly split into two groups.

One group was asked to add a handful of nuts — 60 grams per day of a comination of hazelnuts, almonds, and walnuts — to their regular Western-style diet. Those in the second group simply followed their usual Western-style diet, without worrying about consuming nuts.

READ ALSO: Pregnancy Diet: Foods to Eat and Avoid During Pregnancy

To compare, sperm and blood samples were collected from all participants both at the start and at the end of this experiment.

At the end of the trial period, the scientists noticed that the participants who had followed the nut-enriched diet had meaninvgfully enhanced sperm quality.

These participants had a 16 percent higher sperm count, a 4 percent higher sperm vitality (that is, the amount of live, healthy sperm cells found in semen), a 6 percent improvement in sperm motility (or sperm cells’ ability to move), and a 1 percent improvement in sperm morphology (which is the cells’ normal, healthy, size and shape).

Essentially, the men who ate a handful of mixed nuts daily indicated less sperm DNA fragmentation at the end of the trial, meaning that genetic integrity was better preserved in these participants’ semen samples.

When sperm DNA is too fragmented, fertility is reduced, or it could lead to a miscarriage. These conclusions, note Dr. Salas-Huertos and colleagues, “support a beneficial role for chronic nut consumption in sperm quality.”

A healthful diet may aid conception

The scientists explain that these improvements could be the fact that nuts are rich in important nutrients, like omega-3, vitamins, and protein.

The researchers added that it is hard to say that nuts alone are the answer to better male fertility. Dr. Albert Salas-Huetos said:

“We can’t yet say that, based solely on the results of this study. But evidence is accumulating in the literature that healthy lifestyle changes such as following a healthy dietary pattern might help conception — and of course, nuts are a key component of a Mediterranean healthy diet.”

The team also added that the study was conducted in a young, healthy male group, so any generalizations should be avoided until further research is conducted in a more diverse population.

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