Saturated Fats

How saturated fat may affect men’s fertility

The findings of a study recently published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggest that a diet rich in saturated fats may have a negative effect on men’s fertility – reducing the quality and quantity of men’s sperm.

Tina Jensen and her colleagues conducted a study exploring the relationship between dietary fat intake and men’s semen quality. Unlike many other studies on men’s fertility, these researchers did not recruit male participants who were seeking fertility treatments. Instead, participants in Jensen’s study were 701 young Danish men (approximately 20 years old) who were screened for their level of fitness for the Danish military between 2008 and 2010. Participants were asked to fill out questionnaires about their eating habits, and to provide a sperm sample.

The findings of this study of young, presumed fertile men were striking in suggesting that higher saturated fat intake may be associated with decreased sperm counts. The men who reported eating the most saturated fats had a 38% lower concentration of sperm, and 41% lower sperm counts compared to those men who reported eating the least amount of saturated fats. Specifically, those men receiving more than 15% of their energy from saturated fats averaged 45 million sperm per milliliter of semen, and a total sperm count of 128 million. In contrast, men receiving less than 11.2% of their energy from saturated fats had significantly more sperm per milliliter of semen (50 million), and a total sperm count of 163 vs. 128 million. In addition, the sperm counts of the 13% of men who ate either very low or very high amounts of fat fell below normal – suggesting that a balance in saturated fat consumption needs to be met for optimal male fertility.

Saturated fats are found in foods such as butter, hydrogenated oils, animal fats, and cheese. If you are concerned about how your diet may be affecting your fertility, you may wish to consult your physician, and possibly a licensed nutritionist.

To read more about this issue, click here.

To read the study abstract, click here.

To read more about the relationship between saturated and monosaturated fats and women’s fertility, click here


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