July 16, 2018

Diet rich in nuts may improve sperm count, quality

07 July 2018, 01:57 | Silvia Roy

These were consistent with improvements found in other recent studies with diets rich in omega-3, antioxidants (eg, vitamin C and E, selenium and zinc), and folate, they said.

This article has been republished from materials provided by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology.

Although these are statistically significant results from a randomised trail with a high level of scientific evidence, Salas-Huetos emphasised that subjects in the study were all healthy and apparently fertile men following a western-style diet.

At the end of the study, those who had received daily nut snacks had on average 16% higher sperm counts than those who went without, with more modest improvements seen in the proportion of living sperm, their shape and their swimming prowess.

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The experiment divided 119 healthy men between the ages of 18 to 35 into two groups, with one adding the two handfuls of mixed nuts to their diet and followed for 14 weeks.

The investigators conclude from the study that there is a "beneficial role for chronic nut consumption in sperm quality" and nuts should be a part of male dietary recommendations. Their sperm vitality rose by 4 percent while their sperm motility - the ability to move independently - increased by 6 percent. Some were given a diet with nuts while the others did not receive the food in their diet.

The study was performed, Salas-Huetos said, against a background of general decline in quantity and quality of human sperm, attributed in industrialised countries to "pollution, smoking, and trends toward a western-style diet". Sperm as well as blood samples were tested for the participants.

The results also concluded that those who ate nuts had a "significant" fall in sperm DNA fragmentation, which is crucial for successful fertilisation and normal embryo development.

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Dr Salas-Huetos said he couldn't advise nut supplements for men attempting to conceive "based exclusively on the results of this study".

"The fact that the study has taken place is good", said Virginia Bolton, a consultant embryologist at Guy's and St Thomas's hospital in London, "but we need to see this translated into an effect on fertility". They also had reduced DNA fragmentation, which is a measure of sperm damage.

"Evidence is accumulating in the literature that healthy lifestyle changes such as following a healthy dietary pattern might help conception", Salas-Huetos writes.

Sperm counts have halved in the western world over the past four decades, which, alongside rising testicular tumours, could be behind plummeting fertility rates and couples' increasing dependency on IVF, according to Professor Niels Skakkebaek from the University of Copenhagen.

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