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Friskier sperm from eating walnuts, finds study

Kathleen Blanchard's picture

Researchers say young healthy men who ate about 2.5 ounces of walnuts a day in a study had friskier and better quality sperm that they suggest comes from polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the nuts. In the study, researchers wanted to see what would happen to sperm quality from consuming healthy oils.

For their study, Dr. Wendie Robbins and her team at the University of California, Los Angeles decided to investigate whether increasing intake of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in the diet with walnuts could affect sperm quality for men who consume a typical Western diet. Walnuts are high in the fatty acids, as are fish oils.

Walnuts are also healthy for men because they might reduce the chances of prostate cancer, found in a study published January, 2012 and based on findings in mice. Other studies show the nuts are good for blood vessel health and could protect diabetics at risk for heart disease.

According to the researchers, about 70 million couples have trouble with fertility and up to 50% of cases are because of male fertility issues.

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Men enrolled in the study were age 21 to 35. The researchers looked at how much sperm the young men had, whether they were healthy ‘swimmers’, moved well, were well formed and whether they were any abnormalities in the chromosomes at the study start.

The young men ate 75 grams of walnuts each day and had their sperm retested after 12 weeks.

Eating nuts didn’t change the young men’s weight, BMI or activity level, but it did make their sperm friskier and more active.

The men who ate walnuts had higher levels of omega-6 and omega-3 (ALA) fatty acids in their bloodstream that the researchers correlate with better motility and fewer chromosomal sperm abnormalities compared to the group who didn’t eat the nuts. It might possible that eating walnuts could help fertility for partners having trouble conceiving, though more studies would be needed to say for certain.

Biology of Reproduction
August 14, 2012
doi: 10.1095/​biolreprod.112.10163

Image credit: Morguefile