Are Walnuts the Secret to Boosting Fertility?


Approximately 70 million couples around the world experience fertility issues, and in somewhere between 30 to 50 percent of those cases, the problem stems from the male partner.

A new study from the University of Delaware points to one thing that could change that: eating about 70 grams (2 ½ ounces) of walnuts daily may improve sperm health by reducing lipid peroxidation, which damages sperm cells.

“Sperm is particularly susceptible to oxidative damage since their membrane is comprised primarily of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA),” explains Maggie Ney, ND Board Certified Naturopathic Doctor and Co-Director of the Women’s Clinic at Akasha Center for Integrative Medicine. “PUFA are particularly susceptible to oxidative damage because of their biochemical structure.”

Especially when men are eating the Standard American Diet rich in sugar and processed foods, sperm cells can be deteriorated by lipid peroxidation. Walnuts, as the only tree nut predominantly comprised of these acids, may be the ideal addition to their diets to boost fertility naturally.

But this isn’t the first study to show the healing power of walnuts as far as male fertility is concerned. A 2012 study published in Biology of Reproduction revealed that men between the ages of 21 to 35 who ate 75 grams of walnuts every day for twelve weeks saw “increased sperm vitality, motility, and morphology” and fewer chromosomal abnormalities.

And if you’re including walnuts on your man’s favorite salad to boost his fertility, feel free to have a portion, too: Ney notes that walnuts can also have positive effects on female fertility and egg health.

“Alteration in PUFA content and oxidative damage to female eggs can alter the health of ovarian follicles, affect ovulation rate and progesterone production,” she says.

Ney notes that raw walnuts are even better than toasted or otherwise cooked walnuts, as the PUFA in the latter can be altered by heating. You and your man can eat raw organic walnuts as a snack, in salads or slaws, or even on top of ice cream for a pro-fertility sundae.

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Emily Monaco

Emily Monaco is an American food and culture writer based in Paris. She loves uncovering the stories behind ingredients and exposing the face of our food system, so that consumers can make educated choices. Her work has been published in the Wall Street Journal, Vice Munchies, and Serious Eats.