In a new study, researchers found that a healthy diet is good for men’s brain and heart, and also their sperm count.
Sperm count can affect fertility because the lower the count, the lower the chance of getting a partner pregnant.
While many diets improve inflammation, heart and mental health, studies of dietary effects on fertility have been limited.
In the study, the team tested more than 2,900 Danish men, median age 19, those whose diet was rich in fish, chicken, vegetables, fruit, and water.
They found these men had higher sperm counts than those who ate a “Western” diet rich in pizza, French fries, processed and red meats, snacks, refined grains, sugary beverages, and sweets.
Median sperm counts were highest among men who ate a healthy diet (167 million), followed by the vegetarian-style diet (151 million) and the Danish diet (146 million). (Median means half had higher counts, half lower.)
Men who followed a Western diet had the lowest median sperm count (122 million). They also had lower levels of some sex hormones that boost fertility, the investigators found.
The team says because following a generally healthy diet pattern is a modifiable behavior, the results suggest the possibility of using dietary intervention as a possible approach to improve the sperm quality of men in reproductive age.
While these findings from Danish men may not apply to other populations, it t would be an important study to repeat in the United States, as the Western diet had the most negative effects on sperm quality.
The lead author of the study is Feiby Nassan. She’s a postdoctoral research associate at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in Boston.
The study is published in JAMA Network Open.
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