Eating 60 grams of mixed nuts every day over the course of 14 weeks significantly improved male sperm quality in a new study led by researchers from Spain.
The findings of the study titled “Effect of nut consumption on semen quality and functionality in healthy males” were presented at a meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE 2018) in Barcelona.
The findings “support a beneficial role for chronic nut consumption in sperm quality,” the researchers said. As part of the study, 119 men — between the ages of 18 and 35 — were recruited and split into two groups.
The first group added 60 grams of nuts to their daily “western-style” diet, including almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts. The second group, on the other hand, did not eat any nuts. The study lasted for nearly four months (14 weeks), after which the researchers compared the sperm quality of both groups.
The men who consumed nuts every day saw a significant boost in their sperm count. On average, their sperm count was 16 percent higher than those who did not eat nuts.
The vitality, the movement, and the shape of the sperm also saw improvements.
“Moreover, the subjects in the nut group also showed a significant reduction in their levels of sperm DNA fragmentation, a parameter closely associated with male infertility,” the team stated.
However, further research is needed before health experts can start making this dietary recommendation to men who are trying to conceive a child.
“We can’t yet say that,” said study co-author Albert Salas-Huetos from the University Rovira and Virgili in Reus, Spain.
“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,” he added.
A variety of nuts can provide protein, calcium, antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, omega 3, folate, etc. They are also considered a good source of fiber and healthy fats (both monounsaturated and polyunsaturated).
An estimated 5 million couples in the United States face fertility issues when trying to conceive a child. According to the Cleveland Clinic, a male factor is a major or contributing cause in at least half of such cases.
All the participants in the study were healthy men which meant these findings need to be replicated with those experiencing significant fertility problems. And apart from food, numerous other factors — such as smoking, exposure to radiation, emotional stress, body weight and more — can contribute to infertility and should be considered.
“The fact that the study has taken place is good, but we need to see this translated into an effect on fertility,” said Virginia Bolton, a consultant embryologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’s hospital in London, England.