If you’re a guy who’s partial to bacon and sausage in the morning and salami sandwiches for lunch, you may want to pay attention. According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, male fertility is extremely sensitive to diet. Researchers gathered data from 141 couples over the course of seven years, studying both male diet and the couples’ rates of conception. The study found that the men who ate processed meats regularly were 34 percent less likely to conceive a child. Furthermore, the men who ate the most chicken in the study were shown to have a 20 percent higher fertility rate than poultry-phobes.
In case you’re a little fuzzy on the term, processed meats include bacon, sausage, hot dogs, deli meat, pepperoni, and salami.
“Meats are a major source of saturated fat, which is related to lower sperm counts among men from a fertility clinic and among young men from the general population,” the researchers said in a statement. “Men who consumed more meat had a higher body mass index and higher intake of alcohol, caffeine, protein, fat, total calories, and lower intake of carbohydrates.”
Processed meat is also known to contain chemicals, like sodium nitrite, that have been linked to higher cancer rates and may also affect the production of sperm.