The best diet and foods to improve male fertility

Medically reviewed October 2022
What is the Best Diet for Male Fertility? | Naytal

As a male do you think about what you eat on a regular basis? Do you just eat whatever your partner has cooked or grab the quickest sandwich at your local cafe for lunch? When we consider improving fertility through the diet, the automatic focus is usually on women.

However, as a male you may want to consider what options you chose to consume as your diet does play a role in your fertility. For example, did you know that salmon could be one of the key elements to improving your sperm quality?

Here we share the best foods to incorporate into your diet to improve fertility.

What is the best diet for male fertility?

Whilst there isn’t one exact diet that is ‘best’ for male fertility, based on current research, the Mediterranean diet is considered to be one of the best dietary patterns for both females and males. This is because it is rich in omega-3 fatty acids which for men supports sperm quality. It also promotes lots of fruit and vegetables to increase antioxidants and favours plant based protein sources.

Find out more about the benefits of the Mediterranean diet for fertility.

Speak to a fertility nutritionist

Best foods for male fertility

The main macronutrients of your diet include fats, protein and carbohydrates. Within what you eat there will be lots of vitamins and minerals too. Some of these play a vital role in your sperm quality.

Here we share the best foods to eat in each key food group or that are high in required vitamins.


For men, diets rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to improve sperm health, quality and movement. However, high intakes of saturated and trans fat adversely affect sperm quality. Therefore, one main switch could be to replace saturated fats with polyunsaturated fats to improve fertility.

Some good polyunsaturated and unsaturated fat sources include:

  • Vegetable oils like olive oil
  • Seeds like chia seeds, flaxseeds, sunflower seeds
  • Nuts like walnuts, almonds, cashews and peanuts
  • Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, trout

How to include this in your diet?

  • Swap cod for salmon
  • Add nuts or seeds to your cereal
  • Cook in olive or rapeseed oil over coconut oil
  • Swap jam to avocado on toast


There is growing evidence that eating more plant sources of protein and fewer animal sources may help infertility. A review of the evidence has shown that whilst poorly planned vegan and vegetarian diets can increase the risk of vitamin and mineral deficiencies, there are benefits from well planned, whole food diets.

Therefore, if you’re considering changing your diet to either of these options, seeking advice from a qualified dietitian can help decrease the risks of deficiencies and potentially increase your fertility.

Good plant based sources of protein include:

  • Tofu
  • Tempeh
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds

How to include this in your diet?

  • Swap half of minced beef in a bolognese to green lentils
  • Add tofu into a stir fry
  • Add chickpeas and humus to your salad once a week rather than chicken
  • Swap half of minced beef in a chilli to kidney beans

Vitamin D

There’s no exact science as to whether vitamin D impacts fertility. Some data shows a link between the receptors located in the testicles and sperm, with observational studies showing an association between vitamin D deficiency and poor semen quality. However other studies have found no improvement following a supplementation.

Despite it not being clear, optimising vitamin D intake is key for general good health (for example, it’s essential in bone health and hormones) so it’s best to include it in our diet.

From October to March, 10mcg vitamin D should be taken. This is because the sun's rays are not strong enough for our body to synthesise vitamin D.

Vitamin D can be found in small quantities of our diet for example:

  • Fortified products including plant based milk and plant based yoghurts
  • Mushrooms when exposed to sunlight
  • Oily fish
  • Egg yolks


Another key component in improving fertility is antioxidants. Antioxidants can slow down or prevent cell damage caused by environmental toxins. Whilst vitamin C, E, Selenium and zinc have been shown to promote sperm quality.

Vitamin C

Lower levels of vitamin C have been associated with higher rates of infertility. Vitamin C can be found in:

  • Fruits like blackcurrants, oranges
  • Vegetables like broccoli, peppers, brussel sprouts

How to include this in your diet?

  • Add fruit to your breakfast or as a snack
  • Have salad with lunch
  • Add vegetables to your main dinner in the evening
  • Eat vegetable sticks as a snack with dip

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is found in cell membranes. Like Vitamin C, the sperm of infertile men had low levels of vitamin E. There have also been links to vitamin E and sperm movement. Vitamin E can be found in:

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Olive oil
  • Wholegrains

How to include this into your diet?

  • Swap to wholegrain cereal in the morning
  • Use olive oil with balsamic vinegar as a salad dressing
  • Eat mixed nuts as a snack


Selenium Is all about balance. Too much or too little can cause sperm abnormality which affects sperm movement and fertility. You should be able to get the selenium you need from a diet which includes meat, fish, eggs or nuts.

How to include this into your diet?

  • Eat brazil nuts as a snack
  • Have an egg or salmon sandwich for lunch


Zinc is an antioxidant which plays a role in sperm creation and movement. Low levels have been linked to decrease sperm quality. As men, you lose zinc in each ejaculation, so your requirements are slightly higher than women.

Zinc can be found in:

  • Dairy
  • Shellfish
  • Meat
  • Bread
  • Wholegrains
  • Seeds (especially sesame)

The best diet for male fertility

To make the best changes to your diet, follow the below tips that combine the above recommendations:

  • Add a portion of fruit and nuts or seeds to breakfast in the morning
  • Ensure you eat an oily fish once a week
  • Swap to wholegrain carbohydrates
  • Use olive or rapeseed oil to cook with
  • Aim for one day of the week to be meat free
  • Take a vitamin D supplement from October to March

Improving your diet can be one of many components to make an impact on your sperm quality. Simple switches can ensure you meet your nutrients requirements and help promote your sperm shape, structure, quality and movement.

Personalised advice can also be helpful. Our specialist fertility nutritionists can answer any questions you might have as well as providing a personalised nutritional assessment for you and your partner.

Ellie, Naytal Dietician

Ellie is a qualified HCPC registered Dietitian and a member of British Dietetic Association. She's passionate about helping women use food to improve the health and wellbeing of themselves or their baby.

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