What are the foods that can improve male fertility?

By (embryologist), (embryologist) and (psychologist).
Last Update: 01/21/2022

Currently, approximately 15% of couples of reproductive age suffer from infertility. Within this percentage, approximately 30% of the cases are related to male causes. In addition, an additional 20% corresponds to cases in which both members of the couple have some fertility problem.

With these data in mind, it becomes very important to adopt any habit that can help improve semen quality. It is true that not all reproductive problems can be solved by eating healthy foods, but a nutritionally balanced diet plays a fundamental role for general health and also for fertility.

Semen quality and feeding

Semen quality has been reduced in recent years. In general, it is thought that the current lifestyle and factors such as diet may have influenced this decline. Therefore, eating healthy and following a Mediterranean dietary pattern would be good for improving male fertility.

Thus, it is highly recommended that the male should eat a varied diet containing plenty of vegetables and fruits, fish, poultry, whole grains, legumes, and nuts. Thus, it will be more likely to meet the requirements of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals necessary for good seminal quality.

On the other hand, the male should also take care of his diet in order to maintain an adequate weight, since obesity is another factor that can affect the quality of the semen, thus producing fertility problems.

However, it will be important to maintain these good habits over time. Spermatozoa take about 3 months to form, so results may begin to be seen after this period.

Food and male fertility

There is no ingredient that specifically helps improve semen quality. However, there are foods that are high in antioxidants or omega-3 fatty acids that are good for improving male fertility.

Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between reactive oxygen species (ROS) and the body's antioxidants that should neutralize them. This imbalance can affect the membrane and genetic material of the spermatozoa, causing sperm DNA fragmentation. For this reason, incorporating antioxidants into the diet can improve male fertility.

As for omega-3 fatty acids, they have also been linked to an improvement in seminal parameters, more specifically, sperm motility.

What to eat to improve semen quality?

Introducing the following foods into the diet can help increase seminal quality:

  • Walnuts: are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and, in addition, zinc, selenium, vitamin C and vitamin E.
  • Pumpkin seeds: contain zinc and omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Cashews: rich in zinc and selenium.
  • Parsley, red bell pepper, kiwi and oranges: they have a high vitamin C content.
  • Avocado: in addition to other nutrients, it contains omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Tomato: it is a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant carotenoid.
  • Oily fish: a natural source of omega-3 fatty acids.

All these foods contain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals involved in proper hormonal regulation and sperm formation. However, the diet should not be based only on these ingredients but should be incorporated into a varied diet following a Mediterranean-style diet.

What foods to avoid?

To improve seminal quality, the male should avoid processed foods, fast food, and saturated fats, replacing them with olive oil. In addition, it will be important not to consume fried foods and to opt for other different preparations.

On the other hand, one should try to eliminate toxic habits such as smoking or alcohol intake and moderate caffeine consumption, since they affect male fertility. Therefore, if a man drinks several cups of coffee a day, he can substitute some of them with decaffeinated coffee.

Likewise, it will be essential to drink the correct amount of water, avoiding other types of beverages such as sugary drinks.

Dietary supplements

Dietary supplements, especially those containing antioxidants, may also be beneficial to seminal quality. Therefore, these supplements should contain vitamin C, vitamin E, folates, selenium, zinc, etc.

However, it is recommended that the intake of these food supplements is always supervised by a specialist, who should indicate the dosage and duration of treatment to the man.

Other recommendations

In addition to dietary control, there are other habits that can help men improve their reproductive potential.

Doing sport in moderation will help prevent overweight and obesity. As we have mentioned, when a man has a body mass index (BMI) higher than ideal, his seminal quality, specifically the number and concentration of spermatozoa, may be affected.

On the other hand, activities that increase scrotal temperature can also alter the correct formation of spermatozoa. Ideally, the testicles should have a temperature of 2-4°C lower than the body, so saunas, the heat of the laptop resting on the legs, tight underwear or sitting for several hours would be counterproductive to semen quality.

Similarly, if the male is exposed to toxins because of his occupation, it will be very important that he adequately protects himself from them.

FAQs from users

What are the advantages of taking care of your diet for male fertility?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

The fact that men take care of their diet towards a Mediterranean diet has advantages for their general health, but also to improve their reproductive potential. Among the most important advantages, we can mention the improvement in seminal quality.

In addition, a healthy diet will allow the male to control his weight, since overweight or obesity can also affect sperm quality.

However, it will be important to combine these good habits with some moderate sport, as well as avoiding toxic habits such as smoking or alcohol.

Can eating more berries improve sperm quality?

By Zaira Salvador B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, berries (including blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries) contain antioxidant pigments, in addition to absorbing free radicals of oxygen. In other words, including berries in your diet is a good option to improve or protect sperm quality.

Some studies have shown that pigments found in the skin and seeds of berries have multiple medicinal properties, including flavonoids, anthocyanins, tannins, and other phytochemicals.

In particular, blueberries, blackberries, lingonberries, and strawberries contain high amounts of vitamin C and other nutrients. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from cell damage.

Are there foods that decrease male fertility?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, there are certain types of foods, such as processed or precooked foods and fast food, which could be related to an impairment of seminal quality.

In addition, it will be advisable for the male to avoid fried foods, sugary drinks and habits such as smoking or alcohol.

If you are interested in reading more information about how to improve sperm quality, you can visit the following article: Is it possible to improve sperm quality - Recommendations.

On the other hand, if you want to know more about food that favors female fertility, we recommend you to access the following link: What are the types of food that favor female fertility?

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FAQs from users: 'What are the advantages of taking care of your diet for male fertility?', 'Can eating more berries improve sperm quality?' and 'Are there foods that decrease male fertility?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Valencia (UPV). Biotechnology Degree from the National University of Ireland en Galway (NUIG) and embryologist specializing in Assisted Reproduction, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI) More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Cristina  Algarra Goosman
Cristina Algarra Goosman
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduated in Psychology by the University of Valencia (UV) and specialized in Clinical Psychology by the European University Center and specific training in Infertility: Legal, Medical and Psychosocial Aspects by University of Valencia (UV) and ADEIT.
More information about Cristina Algarra Goosman
Member number: CV16874

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