In our last blog post we discussed some issues regarding the age of fathers, and that older fatherhood has both positive and negative aspects. Today we complete our mini-series on fatherhood by presenting a simple dietary “supplement” that may offer some benefit for male fertility.
Among couples with fertility problems, up to half of the time the problem comes from the man’s side of the equation, and the most common cause is poor sperm quality. The sperm may be low in number, have poor motility (“swim” poorly), have diminished viability, or have some abnormality in shape, structure, or chromosomes.
Some factors that can decrease a man’s sperm quality include smoking, heavy alcohol use, and likely also poor diet and exposure to pollution. Researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) did a simple study to see if adding walnuts to the daily diet of otherwise healthy young men would improve the quality of their sperm. “Polyunsaturated fatty acids” (PUFAs) are important in the production and maturation of sperm cells, and walnuts are a particularly good source of PUFAs.
The investigators recruited 117 men aged 21 to 35, and separated them into two groups. Half of the men added 75 gm. of walnuts to their daily diet (about two handfuls), and the rest continued their normal diet without any changes. All the men had their sperm analyzed at the beginning of the study then again after 12 weeks.
The research, published in Biology of Reproduction on August 15, found that the men who added the walnuts to their diet had significant improvements in sperm vitality, shape, and motion. In addition, their sperm showed decreased chromosomal abnormalities. As a further benefit, the men who ate the walnuts showed that their own blood fat “profile” was healthier, in that they had higher concentrations of heart-healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Tree nuts in general are considered healthy foods, and walnuts may be the healthiest nut of them all. The have the highest concentration of antioxidants of any common nut (castanha de Para is second), and walnuts have been shown to decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease and improve blood flow. And besides being full of the healthy types of fat, they also are rich in protein and fiber.
The UCLA study showed that the men’s sperm improved, but they did not measure if walnuts added to the diet actually made the men more fertile. That would however, be a logical inference. So, if you are a man wanting to have children, eating a handful or two of walnuts daily might be a good idea, not only to help boost your fertility, but your own health!
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Esta postagem também está disponível em: Portuguese (Brazil)