Nuts may boost male fertility

Want stronger, healthier sperm? Eat your nuts

Want stronger, healthier sperm? Eat your nuts

In industrialised countries this has been attributed to "pollution, smoking, and trends toward a western-style diet".

The new study was a 14-week clinical trial in which 119 healthy young men aged 18 to 35 were allocated to either their usual western-style diet supplemented with 60 grams per day of mixed almonds, hazelnuts and walnuts, or their usual diet without nuts.

Any nut would be useful in the prevention of male infertility.

The study recorded not just sperm parameters, but also changes in several molecular factors, including sperm DNA fragmentation.

The men who ate nuts saw a 16 percent spike in their sperm count on average, as well as improvements in the overall health of the reproductive cells.

Dr Albert Salas-Huetos said the study was performed amid a general decline in the quantity and quality of sperm that men are producing.

Those who regularly consumed nuts, scientists have noted lower rates of DNA fragmentation of sperm, which is a common cause of male infertility.

Thus, a diet rich in fatty acids omega-3, antioxidants and vitamin B has a positive effect on fertility. Scientists from Rovira i Virgili University and the Autonomous University of Barcelona took part in the study, which was funded by the International Nut and Dried Food Council.

The study at this stage is not peer reviewed or officially published, so it is unclear whether the trial can be considered rigorous enough to justify any reasonable conclusion.

On being asked if men hoping to conceive a baby should add nuts to their everyday diet, he Salas-Huetos said, "We can't yet say that based exclusively on the results of this study".

According to Salas-Huetos one of the limitations of the study was the inclusion of healthy males with normal fertility.

The vitality, the movement, and the shape of the sperm also saw improvements.

Nuts contain many of these and other nutrients.

And men who don't eat nuts shouldn't be anxious their sperm will suffer, he said. Trial participants who knew they were eating nuts might have changed other aspects of their lifestyle, which could have skewed the results.

Nicholas Macklon, medical director at the United Kingdom -based London Women's Clinic fertility treatment center, who was not involved in the study, told The Guardian: "The changes are notable and likely to be beneficial for fertility". But as many factors contribute to fertility, the impact might be limited, he said.