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Mediterranean diet may help couples with fertility


Dimitrios Karayiannis, a young researcher at the Harokopio University in Athens, Greece received the Alpro Foundation Award for the best scientific paper by a young scientist. He received this award of 2500€ for his publication ‘Association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and semen quality parameters in male partners of couples attempting fertility’ published in Human Reproduction. With this award, Alpro Foundation wants to stimulate young researchers to carry out research in the field of plant-based nutrition and its impact on health. Dr. Karayiannis studied how adherence to the Mediterranean diet can influence male fertility. He concluded that dietary patterns rich in fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts and whole grains are associated with better measures of sperm quality.

More and more research is done to determine the factors affecting male fertility. Apart from genetic or medical risk factors, lifestyle factors, especially diet can play an important role in male fertility.

In this study, dietary patterns among 225 Greek men of infertile couples were linked to sperm parameters.  The men were divided in 3 groups and ranked according to their adherence to the traditional Mediterranean diet. Men adhering best to the Mediterranean diet were compared to men who had a dietary pattern that had the least familiarity with a plant-based diet. Sperm concentration, total sperm count, sperm motility and percent morphologically normal sperm cells were significantly higher in the men following the traditional Mediterranean plant-based diet.

This can be an important message in the counselling of subfertile men: “diet modification and switching to a more plant-based diet, rich in legumes, whole grains, nuts, vegetables and fruits and a low intake of meat and saturated fatty acids, can be an easy way to improve sperm quality” according to Dr. Karayiannis. “Whether the beneficial effect of a Mediterranean diet on sperm parameters translates into a higher probability of successful conception remains to be elucidated” says Dr. Karayiannis.

Dr. Dimitrios Karayiannis concluded that greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet could exert favourable effects on sperm quality: higher sperm concentration, total sperm count and better sperm motility.

Professor Ian Rowland, Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Alpro Foundation, congratulates Dr Karayiannis with his original and novel research. His study clearly shows that a plant-based eating pattern may help to improve sperm quality in men of subfertile couples. With the Alpro Foundation Award we hope to stimulate young researchers to continue with such clinically relevant research.”

About the award

The Alpro Foundation Award for best scientific paper honours a promising young researcher as the first author of an outstanding paper in the field of plant-based nutrition (impact on health or sustainability).  The first author must be affiliated to a European University and must be younger than 36 years. The prize is 2500€ for the young scientist.

Reference: Karayiannis D et al, Association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and semen quality parameters in male partners of couples attempting fertility. Hum. Reprod. 2017 Jan;32(1):215-222.

- Alpro Foundation

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