A diet high in saturated fats has historically been linked to raised levels of cholesterol which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke, and cancer. But a recent Danish study also links saturated fats to dwindling sperm counts.
A report in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that young Danish men who ate the most saturated fats had a 38 percent lower concentration of sperm, and 41 percent lower sperm counts in their semen, than those who ate the least fat.
“We cannot say that it has a causal effect, but I think other studies have shown that saturated fat intake has shown a connection to other problems and now also for sperm count,” said Tina Jensen, the study’s lead author from Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, the Danish capital.
But a change in diet can actually reverse the damaging affects caused by saturated fats.
In 2011, Brazilian researchers found that eating more grains – such as wheat, oats or barley – was associated with improved sperm concentration and mobility, and fruit was also linked to a speed and agility boost in sperm.
Other studies found those who ate mostly plant-based meals, and whole wheat penne pasta achieved a reversal of even severe coronary artery disease, along with slowing or reversing early stage prostate cancer, and reversing the progression of Type 2 diabetes.
A Reuters report explained the study examined young Danish men who were asked about the food they ate over the prior three months, and then asked for a semen sample.
The researchers then broke the results into four groups, depending on how much of the men’s energy intake came from saturated fats, and compared how much sperm the men in each group produced.
The study results revealed a lower sperm concentration and total sperm count in men with a high intake of saturated fat.
“The World Health Organization defines anything over 15 million sperm per milliliter of semen as normal. In the study, 13 percent of men in the lowest-fat group and 18 percent of men in the highest-fat group fell below that level.”
Although the study cannot determine whether other lifestyle factors might account for the link, the research team’s findings may partially explain studies that have found sperm counts decreasing around the world.
Reuters added that last year, French researchers reported the number of sperm in one milliliter of the average 35-year-old Frenchman’s semen fell from about 74 million in 1989 to about 50 million in 2005.
“I think obesity is another cause, but (saturated fats) could also be a possible explanation,” said Jensen, the study’s lead author.
Conclusions from the study:
“Our findings are of potentially great public interest, because changes in diet over the past decades may be part of the explanation for the recently reported high frequency of subnormal human sperm counts. A reduction in saturated fat intake may be beneficial for both general and reproductive health.”