New research has found that eating nuts, such as almonds, could boost sperm quality and help couples facing fertility challenges
A new study suggests that almonds, along with other tree nuts, may help to support male fertility. Researchers found that eating 60g (around two portions) of nuts daily, including almonds, significantly improves the total sperm count and the vitality, motility and morphology (size and shape) of the sperm.
It also suggests that a mix of nuts could be key. Almonds, in particular, are rich in zinc, which contributes to normal fertility and reproduction.
Previous research on infertility has suggested that poor eating habits, among other unhealthy behaviours and environmental factors, may be a contributor to declining sperm counts and sperm quality in industrialised countries.
This study was funded by the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC) which has created a short video explaining the results, which also highlight the fact that fertility is an issue affecting around 1 in 7 couples worldwide, with male factors responsible for 40-50% of these cases.
This study builds on a previous finding on walnuts alone (75g/day for 12 weeks) that found improvements in sperm vitality, motility and morphology, but not in total sperm count. The addition of almonds and hazelnuts to the study diet resulted in improvements in the same measures of quality, but increased sperm count as an added benefit. The researchers note that this current study agrees with the results from the walnuts-only study and “extends the seminal improvements obtained from eating walnuts to other types of nuts.”
Consultant Dietitian Juliette Kellow comments: “Having a healthy diet is an important, but often-overlooked piece of the fertility puzzle. This study shows that adding tree nuts like almonds offers a potentially easy way to boost male fertility and may help support couples trying to conceive.”
In this 14-week randomized controlled parallel trial, researchers from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Spain split 119 healthy males between the ages of 18 and 35 into two groups. One group was asked to eat nuts – a combination of 15 grams of almonds, 15 grams of hazelnuts and 30 grams of walnuts per day – in addition to their regular Western-style diet. Those in the second group ate their same Western-style diet but avoided all nuts. Sperm and blood samples were collected from participants in both groups at the end of the study.
The nut group saw improvements as follows:
- 16% higher sperm count
- 6% improvement in sperm motility (sperm cells’ ability to swim)
- 4% higher sperm vitality (the amount of live, healthy sperm cells found in semen)
- 1% improvement in sperm morphology (which refers to the sperm cells’ normal healthy size and shape)
Importantly, those in the nut-eating group also had less sperm DNA fragmentation, showing that genetic integrity was better preserved in the sperm of nut-eaters. (When sperm DNA is too fragmented, fertility declines or miscarriage risk is higher.)
The researchers suggest that the nutritional makeup of the nuts in this study could improve specific seminal parameters including antioxidant vitamin E, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and folate. Almonds are high in zinc, which contributes to normal fertility and reproduction. The inclusion of nuts in a Western-style diet significantly improves the total sperm count and the vitality, motility, and morphology of the sperm. These findings could be partly explained by a reduction in the sperm DNA fragmentation.