The study group, comprised of 701 twenty-year old Danish men, was divided into 4 subgroups according to their reported caloric energy consumption coming from saturated fat intake. The study compared how much sperm each group of men produced. Researchers found that the group of men who consumed the highest amount of saturated fat had a 38% lower concentration of sperm, and 41% lower sperm counts in their semen. Any measure over 15 million sperm per millilitre of semen is defined as normal by the World Health Organization (WHO). The men in the present study who consumed less than 11.2% of their energy in the form of saturated fat had an average sperm concentration of 50 million per millilitre of semen, and a total sperm count of roughly 163 million. The sample from the group of men whose dietary energy consisted of greater than 15% saturated fat contained 5 million fewer sperm per millilitre of semen, and 35 million fewer sperm in total.
High amounts of saturated fat are found in foods that contain animal fat such as dairy products (e.g. sour cream, various cheeses (particularly those from a cow), table cream) and fatty meats (ground beef, hot dogs, bacon). These are also foods that cause inflammation, another culprit of chronic disease. Choosing foods high in omega-3s can help slow this process. A helpful acronym for remembering which fish are higher in omega-3 fatty acids is SMASH (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, herring). Walnuts, beans, and whole soy foods also contain high amounts of these disease-preventing healthy fats. Furthermore, choosing lower-fat dairy and/or dairy alternatives is an easy way to reduce your daily intake of saturated fat. Dairy products that come from a goat or sheep, such as goat or feta cheese and Greek yoghurt, tend to be easier for the body to process than those from a cow. Leaner meats such as turkey and chicken are also healthy choices. Trimming off any visible fat from all meats can also help lower the amount of saturated fat, as well as broiling or grilling your meat and allowing the fat to drain off.
Oils added to your food that tend to be lower on the saturated fat spectrum include sesame oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, and soybean oil. However, be cautious to only use olive oil when cooking at low to medium heats, or simply add the olive oil to your food after cooking. When we cook with olive oil at high heat, it reaches its smoke point and therefore loses its health benefits. In fact, it becomes damaging through its generation of free radicals, another cause of chronic disease. Consider an oil with a higher smoke point such as grape seed oil. Coconut oil is also a healthy alternative to olive oil with its high smoke point; however, it is higher in saturated fat so should be used sparingly, especially to preserve that sperm count!
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
The Globe and Mail