Scientists have long established that eating walnuts regularly can help gentlemen lower their risk for developing prostate cancer. According to new research, they can also provide benefits to improve male fertility.

In a study featured in the journal Biology of Reproduction, researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) examined data collected from 117 healthy young men who followed a Western-style diet routinely.

Around half of the participants ate an average of 75 grams of walnuts every day for 12 weeks, while the remaining participants served as the study's control group.

The research team discovered that after 12 weeks, the participants who were given walnuts experienced noticeable improvements to their fertility - particularly to the morphology, motility and vitality of their sperm, compared to those included in the control group.

"The initial research we conducted regarding walnuts and male fertility found improvement in sperm parameters after adding walnuts to the diet and has set the stage for us to further explore the impacts of walnuts on male fertility and reproductive health," Wendie Robbins, a professor at UCLA's School of Nursing and lead author of the study, said.

Infertility and Sub-fertility

According to medical experts, infertility is a condition wherein an individual is not able to get pregnant despite engaging in frequent, unprotected sexual intercourse for at least a year.

Couples may experience the condition as a result of a single cause or a combination of several factors, which may prevent a pregnancy from continuing or occurring at all. While infertility and sub-fertility affect a large portion of society, their impact on men in particular remain relatively unknown to researchers.

The findings of the UCLA study are expected to benefit more than 70 million couples around the world who suffer from infertility or sub-fertility.

Research has shown that 30 to 50 percent of infertility or sub-fertility cases are associated with the male partner. In the United States alone, around 3.3 to 4.7 million men seek help in addressing their issues with fertility.

In this latest study, Robbins and her colleagues found that walnuts contain vital nutrients, such as plant-based omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is necessary to the improvement of reproductive health in men.

Robbins pointed out that consuming a high amount of ALA derived from walnuts has been linked to a reduction of aneuploidy occurrence, or the abnormal production of sperm cell chromosomes that can result in Down syndrome and other genetic abnormalities.

Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants; when combined with micronutrients, these components can lessen the levels of free radicals in the body that cause deterioration of the heart.

Photo: Moyan Brenn | Flickr 

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