Male fertility and the benefits of eating nuts (for your nuts)

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Eating nuts may enhance male fertility, according to a Monash University study.

The study was Published in Advances in Nutrition, with evidence finding a daily intake of nuts could improve sperm quality.

Dr Barbara Cardoso, from Monash University’s Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food and Monash Victorian Heart Institute, said the trials allowed for the possibility that those eating nuts were healthier anyway.

Dr Cardoso also said while specific nuts were used, other combinations would probably also help – as long as those eating them had no allergy issues. 

“The statistical analysis in both studies was adjusted for other factors such as physical activity,” she said. “The findings show that this simple strategy has positive effects regardless of other lifestyles.

“The trial participants ate a Western-style diet, which was not necessarily healthy. This means that adding nuts to their regular diet had a positive effect without the need for further dietary changes.

“The implications of these findings are of great value to people trying to conceive, but we also need studies to assess the effects of nuts on female fertility. We would advocate for more male and female studies to strengthen the results.”

Infertility is defined as no pregnancy after 12 months of regular and unprotected sex. An estimated 8-12 per cent of reproductive-aged couples are affected globally.

The systematic review and meta-analysis hypothesised that the high concentration of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats, dietary fibres, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols found in nuts could improve reproductive health.

“We’re speaking of either raw or roasted nuts,” Dr Cardoso said. “I’d avoid salted or sweetened nuts as salt and sugar can be associated with different health issues such as hypertension and insulin resistance.”

Senior author Dr Nicole Kellow said a review the team published last year identified an association between a Mediterranean-style diet and increased probability of achieving a clinical pregnancy and live birth in women undergoing IVF.

Dr Kellow, from the Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food and Hudson Institute of Medical Research’s Centre for Innate Immunity and Infectious Diseases, said nuts were one of many beneficial foods in the Mediterranean diet.

“In the studies we reviewed, men were only required to consume 60-75 grams of nuts each day in order to achieve significant improvements in sperm quality,” she said. “This is only approximately two handfuls of nuts per day.

“Many people think that nuts are fattening, but research shows that people who eat 1-2 handfuls each day are actually more likely to be leaner than those who don’t eat nuts. Also, nuts contain monounsaturated fats, antioxidants and dietary fibre, essential nutrients which are vital for good health.”

What are the other health benefits of nuts?

Apart from the healthy types of fats contained in nuts, they are also a good source of dietary fibre, which is essential for keeping the bowel healthy and preventing conditions such as bowel cancer. Foods which are high in fibre also take longer to digest, meaning that you feel fuller for longer. Many of the issues with nuts come from the fact that they are often sold with lots of added salt or sugary coatings, which reduces the health benefits and raises the calorie count at the same time.

For people trying to lose weight, cashews, pistachios and almonds are the three types of nuts that are the best choice as they are the lowest in calories.

Read more: The best nuts for your health and weight loss

Try these healthy nut recipes:

Under 100 Calorie Fruit and Nut Chocolate Clusters

Healthy Rice Bubble And Oat Slice

Nutty Breakfast Loaf

No bake chocolate seed and nut bites

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