By Elizabeth Barker
Munching on a few handfuls of walnuts each day could enhance fertility in healthy men, according to new research from Biology of Reproduction. In a study involving 117 males ages 21 to 35, switching to a walnut-enriched diet appeared to improve sperm’s ability to reach and penetrate the egg (a quality referred to as “sperm motility”).
For about three months, all study members followed a Western-style diet. During that time, 59 of the participants ate about 2.65 ounces of walnuts a day, while the remaining participants avoided all tree nuts. By the end of the study period, those who had eaten walnuts showed significant improvement in sperm motility, vitality and morphology (the size and shape of sperm). What’s more, members of the walnut-fed group had fewer chromosomal abnormalities in their sperm after changing up their diets.
Although it’s not yet known how walnuts might strengthen sperm health, the study’s authors note that walnuts serve as a rich source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (or PUFAs, a type of healthy fat considered crucial for sperm function). Other top sources of PUFAs include flaxseed and oily fish, such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring.
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