Walnuts improve sperm quality


A recent study has shown that eating a couple of handfuls a day of whole-shelled walnuts can significantly improve various measures of sperm quality in healthy young men.

The group eating walnuts found improvements in sperm vitality, motility, and morphology and fewer chromosomal abnormalities.  The no-nut group saw no change. All men were 21-35 years old, healthy, and eating a typical Western diet.

The original study was reported in the journal Biology of Reproduction, and covered in mainstream media such as BBC News and Science Daily.


Walnuts in Chinese Medicine

Walnuts are used in Chinese medicine both as an ingredient in herbal prescriptions as well as in dietary therapy.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, walnuts have the following benefits:

  • warm the Yang-energy of the body – increasing warmth and energy levels
  • strengthen the functional system called “Kidney” which relates to sexual development and fertility (as well as urinary functions, same as Western medicine)
  • nourish the Essence which ties in with Kidney and fertility and also specifically walnuts strengthen the brain
  • moisten the intestines, making them useful as a gentle laxative
  • anchor the lung energy in the lower body to help control wheezing and asthma


Further studies

The researchers suggest that further studies could look at making capsules of walnut extract and capsules of an inactive placebo (“sugar pill”) so that the men don’t know which group they are in – this makes a study more scientifically valid (“double blind” study).  They would also like to see a walnut study conducted on men who are undergoing fertility treatment such as IVF, as the current study was conducted on healthy young men.


Is there any harm in trying this at home?

Paul Pitchford, in his book Healing with Whole Foods, suggests that walnuts can harbour harmful parasites called liver flukes. He recommends cooking walnuts before eating.  You could dry fry them before eating as a snack, or put them in stir fries, casseroles or curries.

Other commentators warn that walnuts are not only high in the “good” Omega-3 fatty acids, but they are also high in the “not so good” Omega-6 fatty acids. The Western diet is too high in Omega-6 anyway, which can lead to issues with inflammation and cardiovascular problems, among others.

Chinese medicine upholds the advice of “Everything in Moderation“. I suggest you employ this strategy if you would like to try the benefits of walnuts yourself. Build up slowly, and if you experience problems such as indigestion or loose bowels (due to the oily quality of the nuts) then ease off until you are used to it.