New discoveries underscore the link between diet and male fertility. Previous research has indicated that a deficiency of DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, may actually shrink testicle size and limit sperm mobility. University of Illinois scientists decided to further explore the effect of DHA on male fertility by feeding infertile mice either DHA-supplemented chow or a control diet. Four months later, the DHA subjects had sperm counts 82% higher than the controls. The DHA mice also had sperm cells that were normal looking with straight tails, translating into higher propulsion and better likelihood for conception.

Of course, more research would be needed to confirm similar benefits for humans, but we already know that omega-3 plays an important role in supporting health. Fish consumption specifically has been linked to lower colorectal cancer risk, reduced inflammationpreserved brain power, less dry eye, better hearing, fewer wrinkles — and even boosted test scores! Top sources of omega-3s include salmon, black cod, sardines, flounder, chia seeds, walnuts and flaxseed. Be aware that excess alcohol consumption can take a toll on omega-3 levels. If you’re worried about mercury — try pairing fish with tropical fruit, which seems to mitigate mercury levels.

If fertility is truly your focus, research suggests eating more vegetables and leaner protein sources are associated with increased male potency. Another study links increased intakes of fiber, folate, vitamin C and lycopene with higher quality sperm. Paradoxically, while full-fat dairy may hamper male fertility, it may increase a woman’s odds of multiple births.
Published April 1, 2012