Walnuts kick sperm along

Infertility is a common problem estimated to affect about 70 million couples worldwide. That cold statistic does not reflect the emotional difficulties that not being able to conceive can present. Procedures like IVF can be a physical and emotional roller coaster. Since somewhere between 33 and 50 per cent of cases of infertility are due to poor sperm quality in the man, anything that can increase the vitality of sperm is worth considering, especially when it might be as simple as eating a handful of walnuts.

It should be noted at the beginning that this study was partially funded by the California Walnut Commission but this was declared by the researchers and the findings are still of interest.

The reasons for infertility include among them unhealthy lifestyles and poor diet. A man’s sperm reflect his overall health. Walnuts are an established source of linolenic acid, one of the plant based precursors of the omega-3 fats, and omega-3 fats are deficient in the Western diet and important for sperm health. The polyunsaturated fats from walnuts are important for the maturation of sperm and for the integrity of the membrane around the sperm.

In this study the subjects were healthy men aged 21 to 35. The participants divided into two groups. One group was asked to avoid eating tree nuts and the other was asked to eat 75 grams of walnuts per day for twelve weeks. This 75 gram level was chosen because it is has previously been established as a level that will impact blood fats but is not enough to make weight be put on.

The researchers then measured sperm concentration, vitality, motility, shape, structure, and DNA.

The analysis showed that the men who ate walnuts had higher levels of omega-3 fats in their blood and their sperm quality had improved. There were improvements in sperm vitality, motility, and shape (morphology) as well as a reduction in DNA abnormalities.

We won’t spell it out too graphically here but if you think about what a walnut looks like and you know anything about the “doctrine of signatures” then these findings won’t come as a great surprise.

Terry Robson

Terry Robson

Terry Robson is the Editor-in-Chief of WellBeing and the Editor of EatWell.

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