Who doesn't feel like they're going a little nuts when it comes to trying for a baby? But for guys, going nuts—by which we mean eating nuts, specifically walnuts—could give fertility a boost, according to new research from UCLA that says eating 2.5 ounces of walnuts every day improves sperm vitality and motility.
The amount—2.5 ounces—equals just over half a cup of walnuts. In the study, a group of healthy men ages 21 to 35 added walnuts to their diet by snacking on the shelled whole nuts straight out of the package, mixing them with applesauce and cinnamon in a blender, or chopping them up and adding them to meatloaf, hamburger, and spaghetti sauce. After 12 weeks, compared to a control group, sperm samples from walnut eaters showed improvements in sperm concentration, vitality, ability to move, shape and size, and chromosome abnormalities—key components in male fertility.
Why walnuts? As researcher Wendie Robbins, Ph.D., of the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health explains, "Walnuts are the only nuts with appreciable levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which some studies of male infertility have linked to better sperm quality." Walnuts are high in antioxidants, along with numerous micronutrients that Dr. Robbins thinks may work together synergistically with omega-3s.
For most men, it's a potentially simple—and enjoyable—lifestyle change. "I could go for a scoop of maple walnut ice cream right about now," says Jason Brown of Burlington, Vermont.