Heads Up: This Common Food Can Increase Fertility. Here's What You Need To Know
Nuts are widely accepted as one of the healthiest foods on the planet, especially if you go through the proper avenues of preparation. They can protect against heart disease and inflammation, preserve brain health, balance hormones, and more—and now, a new study out of Spain shows another surprising benefit: boosted fertility.
Researchers from Rovira i Virgili University divided 119 18- to 35-year-old men into two groups. One group added 60 grams (about two handfuls) of walnuts and almonds to their daily diet, making no other changes. The other group continued to eat normally, without the addition of the nuts.
After 14 weeks, the researchers found that the nut-eating men had significant improvements in their sperm count (amount of sperm per ejaculation), vitality (amount of living, healthy sperm), motility (strength of sperm movements—aka how strong of swimmers they are), and morphology (amount of sperm with a "normal" size and shape). Essentially, their sperm were in far better condition than the men who made no dietary changes.
With sperm counts globally in decline, this study could have important implications for keeping men reproductively viable. That said, it was a small study, and the men who participated didn't have pre-existing fertility problems.
It's yet to be seen whether the results could be reproduced, and if eating nuts alone is enough to combat true sperm dysfunction. While nuts do contain omega-3s, antioxidants like vitamins C and E, selenium, zinc, and folate, all of which have been found in previous research to support healthy sperm counts, it's also unclear the mechanism of action at work. The study's authors are hesitant to recommend supplementation of nuts for men trying to conceive—but, according to the lead author, "evidence is accumulating in the literature that healthy lifestyle changes such as following a healthy dietary pattern might help conception." But hey, with the many proven health benefits of eating nuts, there's no reason not to help yourself to a handful!
But which nut is healthiest? A definitive ranking.