Walnuts are cracking; they can give men super sperm

Eating a handful a walnuts a day can keep infertility at bay. Those are the claims emanating from scientists in the US who claim that consuming just 75 grams of the tree nut can boost sperm health in young males. They have published their intriguing discoveries in the journal Biology of Reproduction.

Currently in the UK it is thought that approximately one in six or seven couples have complications trying to conceive. This works out at 3.5 million people in Britain, with 40% of the problems conceiving because of an issue with the male. More often than not, this is due to poor quality of semen; the liquid that contains the sperm. The problem of infertility/subfertility is not just limited to the UK however, with an estimated 70 million couples across the globe experiencing such issues.

This new study examining infertility in males was conducted by Dr Wendie Robbins and her team of experts at the University of California, Los Angeles. They recruited 117 men who were all in good health and aged between 21 to 35 years of age. Participants were segregated into two separate groups to ascertain what benefits can be had from a sustained consumption of walnuts.

Both of the groups were allowed to continue eating their ‘western-style diet’, but one group were specificially instructed to refrain from eating any kind of tree nut, whereas the others were told to include 2.6 ounces (75 grams) of whole-shelled walnuts into their daily diet. The researchers settled upon an intake of 75 grams of walnuts as preceding studies had strongly indicated that this level would be sufficient to prevent weight gain in healthy men, yet at the same time it would also be successful in affecting blood lipid levels.

After 12 weeks had passed, Dr Wendie and her team investigated if there were any differences in sperm quality between the two groups of men. She spoke on the results after the three months and said, “We found a significant improvement in sperm parameters in the group that consumed the walnuts. The men who ate no tree nuts saw no change.”

Other factors that were noted was that as predicted, there were no significant changes to body weigh or body mass index in either party. Those who had been eating the walnuts saw a rise in omega-6 and omega-3 (ALA) fatty acid levels.  As a result, researchers found improvement in sperm motility, vitality and morphology in these men. If that wasn’t good enough, the men eating the walnuts had less chromosomal abnormalities when contrasted to the others.

The encouraging signs of the study caught the eye of Dr Allan Pacey, senior lecturer in Andrology at the University of Sheffield. He gave his thoughts on the US research and commented, “It would be relatively easy to poke fun at studies like this, but there is increasing evidence to show that aspects of a man’s diet can affect the number and quality of sperm produced by his testicles.”

On the flip side though, he did stress for caution in interpreting the findings and further added, “The study has been well executed and my only criticism would be that the men in the walnut-eating arm of the trial could have altered other aspects of their behaviour to give the results shown in the paper. A better trial would be to produce tablets of walnut extract that looked identical to a placebo so that the study was completely blind. In spite of this, the results of the study show a small but statistically significant improvement in sperm health.”

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