Diet rich in nuts may improve sperm count, quality

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The results were consistent with sperm improvement observed in other studies that looked at diets rich in omega-3, antioxidants such as vitamin C and E, selenium and zinc, and folate.

A new study has found eating two handfuls of nuts a day could improve men's sperm counts.

The study titled, "Effect of nut consumption on semen quality and functionality in healthy males: a randomized controlled trial", is being presented at the 34th annual meeting of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) in Barcelona by Dr Albert Salas-Huetos from the Human Nutrition Unit of the Universitat Rovira i Virgil in Reus, Spain. 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.

The decline has been attributed in industrialised countries to "pollution, smoking, and trends toward a western-style diet".

For the 14-week study, 119 healthy young men aged 18 to 35 were randomly assigned to two groups.

Although the findings support hopeful fathers adding nuts to their diets, the researchers stress the study was carried out on healthy men who ate a western diet and therefore the results may not apply to all.

Nuts contain many of these and other nutrients.

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Sperm and blood samples were taken at the beginning and end of the study.

Results revealed that the men who ate the nuts in their diet had improved sperm count (improved by 16 percent), motility (by 6 percent), shape or morphology (by 1 percent), vitality (by 4 percent) as well as reduced DNA fragmentation. Indeed, it was this change in the level of DNA fragmentation in the sperm cells that the investigators explained, at least in part, the improvement in sperm count, motility and morphology.

Dr Salas-Huetos said the four parameters are all associated with male fertility.

However, Salas-Huetos said it's impossible for him to be able to recommend nut supplements to men struggling to have children, "based exclusively on the results of this study". Sperm with highly fragmented DNA has been associated with male infertility.

"We can't yet say that based exclusively on the results of this study", Salas-Huetos said.

Participants in the study were asked to eat 60 grams of nuts for 14 weeks.

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