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Walnuts boost sperm quality

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By Marie Cendejas

Wednesday Sept 5, 2012 (foodconsumer.org) -- Men who are attempting to have a baby may benefit from a daily dose of walnuts, according to a study published on August 15 in Biology of Reproduction. 

The new study from University of California at Los Angeles researchers showed that men who ate about half a cup a day for 12 weeks was able to improve the quality of their sperm.

About 70 million couples suffer infertility worldwide. In 30-50% cases,  the problem has to do with the men. 

They asked 58 healthy men at the age of 21 to 35 years to eat half a daily dose of walnuts, while they directed another group of 59 men to avoid eating tree nuts. 

Sperm quality was checked before the experiment began and after the 12 weeks. Men who ate the walnuts had improved sperm shape, movement and vitality. The also had fewer chromosomal abnormalities. The other group that didn’t eat nuts showed no improvement. 

Dr. Allan Pacey, a senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield, said to the BBC, "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."

The researchers hypothesized that because walnuts a natural plant source of omega-3 fatty acids are a source of a-linolenic acid, the compound may be what is giving the sperm the extra boost. 

Dr. Allan Pacey wasn’t involved with the study, but commented that the study was well-done except for the fact that because there was no placebo, there was a small possibility that the walnut group may have taken more actions that would have made their sperm more fit. He still believed that the results showed a small but statistically significant improvement.

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