Eating a diet rich in seafood may help couples get pregnant faster, a new study suggests.
Couples who ate a lot of seafood tended to have sex more often and conceive faster than other couples, researchers from Harvard University found.
Prior studies have linked the consumption of fish high in omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and tuna, to increased progesterone levels, shorter time to pregnancy, and better semen quality.
With 15 to 25 percent of couples unable to conceive after a year, researchers hope the findings can help increase the chances of pregnancy without medical assistance.
Eating a diet rich in seafood may help couples get pregnant faster, according to a new study from Harvard University
For the study, 500 Michigan and Texas couples from the Longitudinal Investigation of Fertility and the Environment (LIFE) Study were followed for one year.
To determine the relationship between seafood intake and time to pregnancy, participants recorded their seafood intake and sexual activity in daily journals.
Findings showed that 92 percent of couples who ate seafood more than twice a week were pregnant after 12 months in comparison with 79 percent among couples consuming less seafood.
Additionally, when both partners consumed eight or more four-ounce servings per menstrual cycle, the frequency of sexual intercourse was almost 22 percent higher.
If both partners consumed seafood the same day, the odds of having sex were 39 percent higher compared to couples where neither partner consumed seafood.
‘One of the surprising finds was that male intake seemed just as important as the female intake,’ Dr Audrey Gaskins, a research associate at Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, told Daily Mail Online.
‘We often forget about how the male component is just as important as the female component when it comes to conceiving.
Aside from omega-3 fatty acids, several fish and shellfish also contain zinc, which has been shown to improve sperm count and motility in men.
Seafood is an important source of protein and other nutrients for women who are or may become pregnant, but concerns about mercury have led some women to avoid fish when trying to conceive.
In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency issued a warning that women eat no more than three servings a week of lower-mercury fish.
Dr Gaskins notes, however, that the agencies also say 90 percent of the fish eaten in the US is low in mercury and therefore same to consume.
‘Most of seafood in the US in very low in mercury and the majority of women are not consuming large amounts of predatory fish, such as swordfish or shark, which are the ones that are high in mercury.’
Dr Gaskins said researchers were not quite sure what was the link between seafood intake and increased sexual activity, but she has some theories.
‘There is a popular culture belief that seafood might be an aphrodisiac, but there is really no evidence to suggest that,’ she said.
‘Seafood intake could be a marker of couples having a nice dinner together, sharing a dinner together, so it could be a behavioral mechanism at play.’
For future studies, Dr Gaskins would like a research team track the seafood consumption for couples who are undergoing infertility treatments.
The latest research comes on the heels of a review by Harvard University indicating a connection between what women eat and their chances of getting pregnant as well as what men can eat to increase their semen quality.
Dr Jose Chavarro, one of the main authors of the study, told Daily Mail Online earlier this month that there has been an explosion in literature on diet and fertility over the last 10 years.
The research is often contentious, with many not believing that diet has any links to the chances of conceiving.
However, in the review, beans were listed as being linked as good fir fertility due to being rich in folate, high in fiber and a good source of protein.
And dark chocolate contains an amino acid, L-arginine, that has been proven to increase sperm count, sperm motility and semen volume.