8 Foods to Improve Sperm Health
Author: Lia Pellizzeri Date Posted:4 May 2017
The old adage ‘you are what you eat’ could not be more true when talking about sperm health. Sperm health appears to be on the decline in the Western world, where male fertility issues attribute to approximately 30% of infertility cases – if not more, so it's important to consider the impact of nutrition on the quality of your swimmers.
Fertility issues aren’t the only reason to be more proactive about eating for sperm health, as lower oxidative stress of sperm cells means lowered inflammation both locally and systemically, creating healthier testes, prostate, and a healthier you altogether.
8 Foods to eat to boost your sperm health
1. Brazil Nuts & Walnuts
Brazil Nuts are incredibly high in selenium, an essential trace mineral with an important role in antioxidant reactions. Selenium also aids in testicular development, sperm motility, and sperm maturation. Walnuts are the best nut to choose for boosting your Omega-3 intake, as they contain the highest amount of Alpha-Linolenic acid (ALA), and important antioxidants called polyphenols. These poly-unsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) can improve sperm count, motility, morphology, and improve semen antioxidant activity.
Oysters contain more zinc per serving than any other food, and shellfish like scallops and molluscs aren’t too far behind. Zinc is found in very high concentrations within the male reproductive system – especially the testes and prostate. This means that deficiencies in this vital nutrient can impair sperm function. Adequate seminal plasma zinc may prove beneficial for improving male fertility due to its requirement in testicular development, spermatogenesis, and sperm motility.
What can't eggs do? They are a nutritional powerhouse and contain some hard-to-find nutrients like Vitamin D and K2 in a convenient, affordable, and very versatile package. Eggs also contain selenium and vitamin E, both of which provide potent antioxidant support to the testes. Vitamin E plays a role in protecting cell membranes from oxidative damage, and studies suggest it may protect sperm from loss of motility as well as enhance sperm performance.
4. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds provide nutrition to the male reproductive system,as a great source of essential fatty acids, magnesium, and zinc. A 28 gram serving provides 14% of your recommended dietary intake of zinc. Low zinc levels are associated with reduced sperm quality and infertility, which is why incorporating it in your diet is so important. Pumpkin seeds are also high in antioxidants and other nutrients that contribute to healthy testosterone levels and overall health.
5. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark, leafy green vegetables such as spinach, chard, and kale are a great source of folate, which can be difficult to obtain in adequate amounts from our diet. Folate is essential for DNA, transfer RNA, and protein synthesis – forming a major part of spermatogenesis. So folate isn’t only important for female reproduction, but can impact sperm health as well. Dose up on leafy greens sautéed in olive or coconut oil, as lightly cooking them will increase your intake through sheer loss of volume, and increase the bioavailability of nutrients.
6. Oily Fish
Cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies and sardines contain important essential fatty acids and more specifically omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats make up an important part of the structure of sperm cell membranes and play an important role in successful fertilization. They can also improve sperm count, motility, morphology, and semen antioxidant activity. Regularly including these nutrient-dense protein sources into your diet can significantly increase both blood-plasma and sperm cell omega-3 fatty acid concentration.
7. Citrus Fruit
Oranges and other citrus fruits are well-known for being high in Vitamin C, which is found in high concentrations in seminal fluid where it protects sperm and sperm DNA from oxidative damage by neutralizing Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS). ROS can have detrimental effects on sperm, including reducing sperm plasma membrane integrity, sperm DNA damage, and reduction in sperm mobility, so it is imperative to get adequate vitamin C in the diet as the body cannot make this protective nutrient by itself.
One of the few foods high in lycopene, a non-provitamin A carotenoid antioxidant involved in various facets of gene expression and immunity. Lycopene can be found in high concentrations in the prostate and testes. Dietary intake has beneficial effects on semen parameters including sperm count, motility and morphology. It is important to remember that lycopene is absorbed more efficiently when cooked and in the presence of fats. The Mediterranean diet is a great example of a diet high in lycopene, as it includes both fresh and cooked tomatoes consistently in the form of concentrated tomato sauces and salads doused in olive oil.
Foods to avoid
Making healthy sperm doesn’t just rely on what you DO eat, but also on what you DON’T! It is speculated that poor semen quality can be reflective of a diet high in compounds such as xeno-estrogens, pesticides, and trans fats, extremely common in our Western fast-food culture. The bottom line is to eat real food, aim to avoid highly processed convenience foods often found packaged, in the middle aisles of supermarkets, or ordered somewhere with a take away option.
A nutritious diet equals nourished, healthier sperm! Get your swimmers ready for the race of their life!
|Written by Lia Pellizzeri|
Lia is a qualified Naturopath who believes in the power of nature to heal many of today’s acute and chronic conditions. She’s not only passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, but about educating people on nutrition and the amazing benefits of herbs and supplements in addressing symptoms and their underlying issues.
Lia loves to cook, bake and read… when she isn’t busy telling people to enjoy their egg yolks and other healthy fats, she can most likely be found on the lounge with a latte and a tattered copy of Lord of the Rings.