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How does diet affect male fertility?


What you eat can make a difference to male fertility, especially when we think about sperm health. Sperm has a lifetime of about 74 days and that means just two to three months of attention to your diet and lifestyle can improve sperm health, and thus, fertility too! 

Here are some key parts of your diet that make an impact on your fertility, as a male:

  • Zinc: It's an essential mineral that's lost via ejaculate, so males need a lot more than females do. Research shows that those with infertility or sub-fertility have less zinc in their sperm, whilst those who had a better zinc status had better concentration and motility results1. Load up on shellfish like oysters, fish, and seafood, chicken, eggs and legumes, and beans or cashews. 
  • Folate: Get those greens in like spinach, kale, and lettuce as folate might help sperm quality2
  • Selenium: An essential mineral and an antioxidant that's also important for protecting sperm from oxidative damage. Studies show that the selenium content of semen in males with sub-fertility and infertility was significantly lower3. Brazil nuts can help you meet your selenium needs and support optimal fertility.

Too much alcohol, heat, and eating too many high-fat foods like takeaways and deep-fried and processed foods can negatively impact sperm health and function too.

Stefanie Valakas
Stefanie Valakas

Stefanie Valakas is an Accredited Practicing Dietitian, expert fertility dietitian, nutritionist and founder of The Dietologist. Her virtual nutrition practice is dedicated to optimising the fertility of males and females to help them grow the families they dream of. Stefanie is also the host of chart-topping podcast, Fertility Friendly Food. 


[1] Ebisch, I. M., Pierik, F. H., DE Jong, F. H., Thomas, C. M., & Steegers-Theunissen, R. P. (2006). Does folic acid and zinc sulphate intervention affect endocrine parameters and sperm characteristics in men?. International journal of andrology, 29(2), 339–345.

[2] Hoek, J., Steegers-Theunissen, R. P. M., Willemsen, S. P., Schoenmakers, S. (2020) Paternal Folate Status and Sperm Quality, Pregnancy Outcomes, and Epigenetics: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Mol. Nutr. Food Res.

[3] Eroglu, M., Sahin, S., Durukan, B., Ozakpinar, O. B., Erdinc, N., Turkgeldi, L., Sofuoglu, K., & Karateke, A. (2014). Blood serum and seminal plasma selenium, total antioxidant capacity and coenzyme q10 levels in relation to semen parameters in men with idiopathic infertility. Biological trace element research

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