You already know that fish is a great source of protein, vitamin D, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Another surprising perk? It could give your sex life a boost—and even help you get pregnant—according to a new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
For the study, 501 couples who were trying to conceive logged their daily seafood intake—including fish and shellfish—in a journal for four years. They also tracked how often they had sex. The researchers followed the pairs for a year or until they became pregnant.
They found that 92 percent of the couples who enjoyed fish and shellfish more than twice a week were pregnant by the end of one year. Men and women with the highest seafood intake—more than eight servings per month—had a 22 percent higher rate of getting it on, too.
But was the fish making them feel frisky? Well, the study authors aren’t entirely sure. You may have heard that shellfish and oysters could potentially amp up your libido due to their high zinc content (despite scientific evidence confirming this is true), but because the researchers didn’t measure zinc in this study, they couldn’t really trace it back to that link, explains study author Audrey Gaskins, ScD, a research associate in the department of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
“It is also possible that couples who consume higher amounts of seafood together share more meals, and thus more time together (including nights),” she adds.
As for the rise in baby rates? The omega-3 fatty acids in fish could improve semen and embryo quality, up the likelihood of ovulation, and boost levels of progesterone (a sex hormone involved in pregnancy), Gaskins explains.
Americans in general just don’t eat enough seafood. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommends eating 8 ounces of fish per week—but most of us only down 2.7 ounces per week, according to USDA data. It’s also important to note that 90 percent of the fish consumed by Americans is low in mercury and perfectly safe to eat, according to the Food and Drug Administration. (Check out this chart to learn which fish have the highest mercury content so you can steer clear.)
And obviously, having more sex—whether you want to have a kid or not—is a great thing. Not only does it help you feel more connected to your partner, but research also shows that sex is good for your heart, improves your cancer risk, and can help you de-stress (you probably already knew that last part).
Bottom line: Your body may benefit when you eat more seafood. Ready to give it a go? We love this honey mustard salmon and roasted asparagus, these tuna stuffed peppers, and these fish fillets with summer squash.