Can Eating Red Fruits and Vegetables Lead to Healthier Sperm?

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Can eating tomatoes improve sperm quality?

In a randomized placebo-controlled trial, British researchers tested the effect on sperm of lycopene, a red pigment found in tomatoes, watermelons, pink grapefruits and other red-tinted fruits and vegetables.

The scientists divided 56 men ages 19 to 30 into two groups. For 12 weeks, one group took a daily pill containing 14 milligrams of lactolycopene, a combination of whey protein and lycopene that makes the lycopene easier to absorb. The other group took a look-alike placebo. The men had blood and semen tests at the start and end of the study.

There was no difference between the groups in sperm motility, the percentage of moving sperm in the semen. But in the men who took lycopene, there was a significant increase in the concentration of fast progressive sperm — sperm that make forward progress in a straight line or in large circles — as well as in the proportion of sperm with proper size and shape. The study is in the European Journal of Nutrition.

“We’ve conducted a small study that has identified a compound found in vegetables and fruits that improves sperm quality,” said the lead author, Elizabeth A. Williams, a senior lecturer at the University of Sheffield. “But I would advise men to have a healthy diet in general. It’s likely that other nutrients are also beneficial.”