Gents, if you want to make sure your swimmers are in tip top shape, you may want to reconsider tucking into the burger and fries.
In a new study published online in the journal Human Reproduction March 13, a team of US researchers found that men who consumed diets high in saturated fats had both lower total sperm count and sperm concentration.
Meanwhile, men who consumed more omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in fish and plant oils, were found to have slightly more sperm — about 2 percent — compared to those with the lowest intake.
For their study, Harvard researchers questioned a group of 99 men from 2006 to 2010 about their diet and analyzed samples of their semen, measuring the levels of fatty acids in their sperm.
The participants — 71 percent of whom were obese or overweight — were divided into three groups.
Those in the group with the highest intake of fat had a 43 percent lower sperm count, in addition to 38 percent lower sperm concentration compared to the group who consumed the least amount of fat.
Total sperm count is defined as the total number of sperm in the ejaculate, while sperm concentration denotes the number of sperm per unit volume.
The World Health Organisation defines normal total sperm count as a minimum of 39 million. The concentration of spermatozoa should be at least 15 million per milliliter.
While the researchers acknowledge the small sample size for the study, it’s not the first to provide a link between poor diet and sperm quality.
Another Harvard study conducted jointly with researchers from the University of Murcia in Spain found that eating foods high in trans fats reduced the sperm quality in even healthy young men.
British researchers likewise advise obese men to lose weight if they’re trying to have kids, after finding a link between higher body mass index and reduced sperm quality.
And Spanish researchers found that the same properties of antioxidants which help protect cells from the effects of free radicals can also help with semen quality.