Lifestyle & Belief

Want better sperm? Eat less bacon and more fish, study says


A package of bacon is displayed on a shelf at United Market on Aug. 17, 2010 in San Rafael, Calif.


Justin Sullivan

Trying to make a baby? Eat less bacon and more fish, guys.

A new study presented at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Boston this week links the intake of processed meat to poorer sperm quality, and fish intake to better semen quality.

Researchers from Harvard University gathered the data from 156 men who were undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVR) with a partner, asking them about their diets and, specifically, what kind of meat they eat.

What they found won't make male bacon-o-philes happy.

Men who consumed more than half a portion of processed meats such as bacon every day had significantly lower levels of “normal” sperm, compared to men who ate less than half a portion of processed meats per day.  

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Also, men who ate more dark meat fish – such as salmon, bluefish and tuna – had a higher total sperm count.

White fish like cod and halibut didn't make a difference either way.

The new findings go along with a 2012 study of Danish men, which linked a high intake of saturated fat with low sperm concentration and low total sperm count.

Some health professionals expressed doubts about the latest research.

Dr. Allan Pacey, chairman of the British Fertility Society, took issue with the way the researchers measured sperm quality and criticized the study's small sample size. 

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