A HANDFUL of walnuts a day could boost men’s fertility, scientists have revealed.
The humble nut improves the quality and movement of sperm, researchers discovered.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) found in the nut repair cell damage in the sperm.
Walnuts are the only tree nut largely made up of PUFAs, with one ounce making up 72 per cent of the fat content of the nut.
The study, published in the journal Heliyon, claims that two and a half ounces of the nut should be eaten daily for the best effect.
Lead researcher Dr Patricia Martin-DeLeon, of the University of Delaware said: “Eating a walnut-enriched diet may improve sperm quality by reducing lipid peroxidation, a process that can damage sperm cells.
“This form of cell damage harms sperm membranes, which are primarily made up of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
“What’s fascinating is we found that eating walnuts can actually help improve sperm quality, likely by reducing peroxidative damage in sperm cells.
“More research is needed to understand the specific nutrients in walnuts that may contribute to this improvement, but the findings suggest that walnuts may be beneficial for sperm health.”
The team recorded significant improvements in sperm body and movement in mice that ate a diet in which 19.6 of their daily calories came from walnuts, equivalent to two and a half ounces for humans.
The findings confirm that of an earlier study that established the role of walnuts in male fertility.
Taking these as a starting point, Dr Martin-DeLeon set out to study the mechanism by which these improvements happened.
Healthy male mice, as well as mice that were genetically predetermined to be infertile, were randomly assigned to a walnut-enriched diet or a control diet without walnuts that was followed for nine to 11 weeks.
Among the mice that consumed walnuts, fertile mice experienced a significant improvement in sperm motility and morphology and the infertile mice had a significant improvement in sperm morphology.
Both groups experienced a significant reduction in peroxidative damage.
She added: “As this is an animal study, there is no direct correlation to processes that occur in the human body.
“However, the findings support previous research suggesting that walnuts provide key nutrients that may be essential for sperm function.”
Dr Wendie Robbins, of the the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and School of Nursing who carried out the original research in 2012 said: “This animal research sheds light on how walnuts may improve sperm quality and is a great follow up to our human study that showed what effect walnuts may have.
“Studies that look at the factors underlying sperm quality improvements are very valuable for advancing research on this important topic.”
“Larger and longer-term studies, as well as studies in more diverse male populations, are needed to confirm the mechanism involved in improved sperm quality with a walnut-enriched diet.”
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