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Walnuts May Improve Male Fertility New Study Shows

Katlyn Joy | 8, October 2012


In an August 15 article in Biology of Reproduction, researchers from University of California, Los Angeles or UCLA shared findings that men who consumed approximately a half cup of walnuts a day saw a boost in sperm motility and numbers.

The study set out to show whether adding 75 grams of whole-shelled walnuts to the Western style diet of men aged 21 to 35 would boost sperm health.

Researchers divided the study group of 117 healthy men into two groups, one which ate a snack pack of walnuts daily alongside their typical diet and the other ate their regular Western diet but avoided eating any tree nuts during the study.

Participants gave both blood and semen samples at the beginning and the conclusion of the 12 week study to measure the possible impact of walnuts on the reproductive health of men. While no change was noted in the group that avoided tree nuts, those who ate walnuts daily saw significant improvements in sperm quality including motility or how well the sperm moved, vitality or how many sperm were alive versus dead, and morphology. Those who ate walnuts also had fewer chromosomal abnormalities at the end of the study than they did in the beginning.

Researchers note that walnuts are rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids which play a role in maturing sperm and the ability to fertilize the egg. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are found in typical Western diets in foods such as fish, flaxseed and walnuts. Walnuts are also a plant source of omega-3.

The 75 gram amount for the study was based on the size of an average snack pack of walnuts to make it simple to measure. Study participants mostly ate the nuts raw, but some mixed the walnuts with applesauce and cinnamon or mixed them in with hamburger meat after grinding them up.

At the conclusion of the study the participants who ate walnuts daily also showed significant gains in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. However, participants in neither group showed significant gains in body mass, weight or physical activity levels which can affect sperm production and quality.

Of the 70 million couples worldwide who experience infertility or sub-fertility, up to one half may experience difficulties due to problems with poor sperm quality. Reasons for this may include lifestyle choices that have negative impact, pollution and toxin exposure and a Western-style diet.

Researchers urge those who want to start families to consider many factors in both partners' diet prior to attempting to achieve a pregnancy to maximize fertility.

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