By TAP Integrative
Worldwide, erectile dysfunction (ED) is estimated to affect between a third and half of all men. Defined as an inability to achieve or maintain an erection, ED can have psychological and emotional impacts beyond the physical effects of the condition itself.
While ED has been the subject of a great number of studies, very little research has been done on how diet affects the condition. ED is mainly a vascular condition, so it makes sense that it shares risk factors with cardiovascular disease—smoking, obesity and hypertension can all increase ED risk.
Since we know that lifestyle and dietary changes can have a big impact on cardiovascular disease risk and progression, it would make sense that these approaches can also help prevent or treat ED. And in fact, some research has shown that healthy diet and adequate exercise can help improve erectile function. Specifically, the diet that has been shown to improve ED is the Mediterranean diet, which, not coincidentally, is also the go-to diet for heart health.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in flavonoids, a class of nutrients found in plants that have been shown to improve blood pressure and blood vessel function. It’s possible that flavonoids can be credited with some of the heart-health effects of this diet.
A study published in 2016 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers looked at data from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study to compare intake of different types of flavonoids to incidence of erectile dysfunction. The study included 25,096 men, of whom more than a third reported ED during the 10 years of follow up.
The researchers found that several types of flavonoids—specifically flavones, flavanones, and anthocyanins—were associated with reduced incidence of ED. Even after adjusting for other dietary factors, the results remained significantly significant. Some of the best sources of these particular types of flavonoids include eggplant, onions, kale, citrus fruits and berries.
Given the overall health benefits of increasing flavonoid intake and the potential benefits for ED specifically, this study gives men another reason to eat more foods rich in flavonols, flavanones, and anthocyanins.
Cassidy A, Franz M, Rimm EB. Dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of erectile dysfunction. Am J Clin Nutr. 2016;103(2):534-541.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.