Posted by Neelam Goswami on July 20, 2011

The study, carried out by Monash University and the University of Western Australia (UWA) researchers, has found that a diet rich in antioxidants helps to protect sperm from free radical damage and boost to boost the reproductive health of males.

Although scientists based their study on crickets, but said the findings have relevance for humans, the 'Ecology Letters' journal reported.

Antioxidant-rich diet will result in more babies
Dr Damian Dowling from Monash University’s School of Biological Sciences, and Dr. Maria Almbro and Professor Leigh Simmons from UWA’s Centre for Evolutionary Biology suggested that consuming antioxidant-rich foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, mangos have healthier sperm, which can help their baby-making abilities.

In their animal-based study, Dowling and colleagues found that the sperms of males who were fed with antioxidants were better in reaching a woman's ovary and successfully fertilizing her eggs than the sperms of males who were not provided antioxidants.

“We have provided a definitive experimental confirmation of the profound importance of antioxidants in maintaining sperm health, not in a test tube, but in a real living animal,” said Dr. Dowling.

“By working with crickets rather than humans as subjects, we were able to conduct the experiment under strictly controlled conditions – therefore ruling out all other alternative explanations for our results.

“Basically, antioxidants in the diet equal more babies.”

Antioxidants maintain sperms’ health
The study explained that antioxidants were effective because they helped protect sperm from highly reactive molecules known as free radicals which are waste products of the body’s cellular processes that fuel the body's activities.

The researchers found that what had the deep significance in maintaining sperms’ health was the combination of two powerful antioxidants: vitamin E and beta-carotene.

“Sperm are known to be vulnerable to attack from free radicals. We’ve shown here that the best dietary defence against this is to ingest two antioxidants - Vitamin E and beta-carotene,” said Dr. Almbro.

"These free radicals damage cells if they are not neutralised by antioxidants," he said.

Healthier sperm survives
Professor Simmons said in the animals it's typical for females to have the sperm of several males inside them at any given time, competing for the fertilization of the eggs.

In their experiment, the sperm of males who were given antioxidants were faster swimmers.

“It is fair to say that the sperm are at war within the female, and we can expect that the healthiest sperm will win. In our study, the sperm of males fed antioxidants were easily able to out-compete the sperm of rival males deprived of antioxidants,” Professor Simmons said.

The first of its kind study highlights the importance of fresh fruits and vegetables in the daily diet consumed by men. Food rich in Vitamin E includes almonds, wheat germ, safflower, corn and soybean oils; nuts, broccoli, while beta-carotene rich foods are sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, squash, apricots, pumpkin, and mangoes, as well as leafy green vegetables like collard greens, spinach and kale.

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