(HealthDay News) – The type of fats men eat affects their sperm quality.

To investigate the relationship between dietary fats and semen quality parameters, Jill A. Attaman, MD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues analyzed complete dietary and semen quality data from 99 men (mean age, 36.4 years) attending a fertility clinic. In a subgroup of 23 men, gas chromatography was used to measure fatty acid levels in sperm and seminal plasma.

The researchers observed a negative correlation between higher total fat intake and total sperm count and concentration, which was mainly driven by saturated fat intake. Compared with men in the lowest third of total fat intake, those in the highest third had a significantly lower total sperm count (43%) and sperm concentration (38%). There was a negative correlation between sperm levels of saturated fatty acids and sperm concentration (r=−0.53), but saturated fat intake was not significantly correlated with sperm levels (r=0.09). A more favorable sperm morphology was seen with higher intake of omega-3 polyunsaturated fats; compared with men in the lowest third of omega-3 fatty acid intake, those in the highest third had 1.9% higher normal morphology.

“In this preliminary cross-sectional study, high intake of saturated fats was negatively related to sperm concentration whereas higher intake of omega-3 fats was positively related to sperm morphology,” the authors write. “Further, studies with larger samples are now required to confirm these findings.”

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