Nuts may boost male fertility

Leslie Hanson
July 7, 2018

Allan Pacey, a male reproductive specialist from the University of Sheffield, points out that while it is unsurprising that nuts are somewhat associated with better sperm quality there are many stronger studies that verify holistically healthy diets positively influence sperm quality.

The decline has been attributed in industrialised countries 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. A handful of nuts every day will go a long way in improving male fertility. In its analysis the study recorded not just sperm parameters (according to World Health Organization benchmarks) but also changes in several molecular factors, including sperm DNA fragmentation.(3) Sperm and blood samples were analysed at baseline and after 14 weeks of intervention. On average, their sperm count was 16 percent higher than those who did not eat nuts.

But lead researcher Dr Albert Salas-Huetos, from the University Rovira i Virgili in Reus, said: "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". Reduction in DNA fragmentation was the main reason why the other parameters also improved he said. They undertook the study to look at a diet including nuts and the benefits it could provide.

The study at this stage is not peer reviewed or officially published, so it is unclear whether the trial can be considered rigorous enough to justify any reasonable conclusion.

But he was reluctant to say whether men hoping to conceive a baby - either naturally or with IVF - should add nuts to their everyday diet.

"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".

Nuts are rich in many of these nutrients.

And men who don't eat nuts shouldn't be anxious their sperm will suffer, he said.

Doctor is silhouetted as he walks past a poster in a Rome fertility clinic. But he cautioned that the impact might be limited because so many other factors contribute to fertility.

This article has been updated with comment from Dr. Albert Salas-Huetos and to clarify the timeframe of nut consumption.

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