A diet high in fat could reduce men's sperm counts, a new study suggests.
Among participants in the study, those with the highest fat intake had a 43 percent lower total sperm count compared with those who had the lowest fat intake.
The link was largely due to the consumption of saturated fat. Men consuming the most saturated fats had a 35 percent lower total sperm count than men eating the least.
In contrast, omega-3 fatty acids(the type of fat often found in fish and plant oils) may be good for sperm count. Men consuming the most omega-3 fats had slightly more sperm (1.9 percent) that were correctly formed than men who had the lowest omega-3 intake. A study published last month found omega-3s are critical for the formation of healthy sperm that are best able to fertilize eggs.
The new study only shows an association, not a direct cause-effect link, and more research is needed to confirm the results.
"In the meantime, if men make changes to their diets so as to reduce the amount of saturated fat they eat and increase their omega-3 intake, then this may not only improve their general health, but could improve their reproductive health too," said study researcher Jill Attaman, an obstetrician and gynecologist who was working at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston at the time of the research.
The study involved about 100 men in the United States who answered questions about their diet and gave sperm samples.
The link between dietary fat and sperm count held even after the researchers took into account men's weight. Obesity has also been found to affect semen quality.
The new study was published March 14 in the journal Human Reproduction.
Pass it on: A high fat diet may affect sperm quality.