Humble tomato one day can improve your virility.

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Tomatoes may cost you dearly nowadays in India, but adding one or two to your daily diet will keep your manhood up and running, researchers say. A dietary compound called LactoLycopene found in tomatoes has been shown to enhance sperm quality and those taking this supplement had about 40% faster swimming sperm with sperm size and shape improvements.

“We didn’t really expect that there would be any difference in sperm at the end of the study from men taking the tablet to those taking the placebo. I actually fell off my chair when we decoded the findings,” said Allan Pacey, Professor of Andrology Reproduction and Head of the Department of Oncology and Metabolism at the University of Sheffield.

The finding could change the outlook for men with fertility issues as a simple diet supplement with LactoLycopene found in cooked tomatoes could boost sperm quality. Sixty healthy volunteers aged 19-30 were involved in the 12-week study planned by Liz Williams, a leading human nutrition expert at Sheffield University.

Half took supplements from LactoLycopene and the other half took the same placebo (dummy pills) for 12 weeks each day. At the start and end of the experiment, sperm and blood samples are obtained. The team found that the proportion of healthy formed sperm (sperm morphology) can be increased and the sperm’ fast swimming’ can be increased by around 40 percent.

Many fruits and vegetables may contain lycopene, but tomatoes are the main source in the diet. Lycopene is a pigment that gives a red color to tomatoes, but the dietary lycopene is poorly absorbed by the human body, so the compound used for the trial was a commercially available product called LactoLycopene; developed by FutureYou Cambridge to increase bioavailability.

“The change in sperm morphology, size and shape was dramatic,” explained Pacey. “This was the first properly designed and regulated analysis of LactoLycopene’s effect on semen production, and it encouraged us to want to do more research with this molecule.”

“We were shocked that the results showed improved sperm quality,” Williams said in a paper published in the European Journal of Nutrition.

The next step for researchers is to replicate the exercise in men with fertility problems and see if LactoLycopene can increase the quality of sperm for these men and enable couples to conceive and prevent unnecessary fertility treatments.

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