Erectile dysfunction, more commonly known as ED, is a health condition that affects around 52% of men between the ages of 40 and 70. Men with this condition find it hard to get or keep an erection long enough to have satisfying sex.
Those who have cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), and diabetes are also more likely to develop erectile dysfunction.
But unlike prescription ED medication, no food is yet proven to be a clinically effective treatment for sexual dysfunction. That said, some studies have found that certain aphrodisiacs can increase levels of testosterone*, improve sexual function and sexual performance - and some also might have overall health benefits.
Read on to discover the 10 most effective foods for fighting erectile dysfunction.
*As a rule of thumb, everything that is good for health in general positively impacts performance in bed. Remember to always consult your doctor or a healthcare professional for medical advice before making changes to your diet.
*Low levels of testosterone can contribute to ED.
A joint study by the universities of Harvard, in the United States, and East Anglia, in the United Kingdom, revealed that consuming moderate amounts of fruit can combat erection difficulties, reducing cases of ED by more than 10%.
While PDE5 inhibitors such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis are considered the first-line treatments for ED, some foods can help similarly - by relaxing blood vessels and improving blood flow to the genitals.
The same research revealed that flavonoids (molecular components found in vegetables, fruits, and cereals) relax the arteries, thus increasing blood flow to the penis. So it becomes easier to get an erection.
Flavonoids are mainly present in produce such as:
The researchers also found out that men who consumed the most flavonoid-rich foods had a 10% reduced risk of ED compared to those who ate less of it. So write these down on your shopping list!
Rich in citrulline, watermelon stimulates blood vessel dilation and vascular relaxation. When converted to arginine, citrulline helps the formation of nitric oxide, one of the components of Viagra. Therefore, consuming it makes it easier to have and maintain an erection.
This phytonutrient, however, is mainly concentrated in the tough, outer layer of watermelon (the rind). For those who don't like the idea of tasting the rind, blending it with the red and pink flesh of the fruit into a juice can be a way to mask that flavor.
A diet that’s good for your heart is also good for your erection! And one of the best healthy diets for your heart is the Mediterranean diet, which centers on fruits and vegetables, fatty fish and other lean protein, whole grains, olive oil, and red wine. According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, eating a Mediterranean diet can help prevent the development of ED. In addition, you can follow the Mediterranean diet to lose weight. Some studies have shown that obesity and being overweight are risk factors linked to erectile dysfunction.
According to research published in the journal “Nature”, red wine has the power to increase the level of testosterone in the blood, giving a boost in sexual desire. Another study found that polyphenols, found in red wine such as Pinot Noir, Grenache, Gamay, and Merlot, can decrease cases of erectile dysfunction by 14%.
L-arginine is an amino acid obtained from protein-rich foods. The body uses it to make nitric oxide, a molecule that dilates and relaxes blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the penis. Some research suggests that L-arginine levels are lower in men with ED.
Foods that are good sources of L-arginine include poultry, red meat, fish, nuts, and dairy products.
A recent study indicates that regularly consuming nuts improves erectile function.
Nuts are rich in the amino acid arginine, which is vital for the synthesis of nitric oxide, a compound that is involved in generating erections. The healthy fats contained in nuts also boosts the cholesterol level, maintaining overall good health.
A study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research has shown that pistachios, in particular, can improve erectile dysfunction symptoms as they help prevent oxidation in the body and increase energy levels.
Scientists attribute the positive effects of pistachios on men's health to the combination of healthy fats, sterols, proteins, and antioxidants.
A University of Athens study suggests that olive oil reduces the risk of sexual impotence by up to 40%. Olive oil carries healthy fats, with anti-inflammatory action, which helps with blood circulation. Studies also show that its consumption can also increase testosterone levels. This is because olive oil is a source of vitamin E, which is used by the body to produce the testosterone hormone, as well as zinc.
To benefit from this, you need to consume at least 9 tablespoons of olive oil per week!
Garlic has been widely studied for its prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease. It also has been used to improve the sex life of couples since ancient times in oriental medicine. Recently, some studies have reported that garlic can have significant improvement of male sexual function.
According to a recent study, garlic which contains the compound allicin, could help relax arteries and increase blood flow throughout the body, including the penis. These British researchers also recommend eating four chopped or crushed cloves of garlic a day to see the effects on your erection.
It was once known as the viagra of the Aztecs, one of the first cocoa growers in America. But what is the science behind this supposed aphrodisiac effect?
Scientists recently discovered that it is rich in phenylethylamine, an amphetamine-like molecule known as the "passion hormone" that enhances emotions and libido. Bitter, semisweet, or raw, chocolate also contains arginine (nitrogen oxide-releasing amino acid) and helps the penis maintain a lasting erection; and tryptophan, a precursor of serotonin, which gives a feeling of well-being.
Oysters are considered a good source of zinc and magnesium, which might increase sexual function. Zinc, commonly known as the “sexual mineral”, is extremely vital for the production of testosterone, playing an important role in a human's sexual performance and stimulation of male sex drive.
Zinc, alongside magnesium, stimulates the production of nitric oxide, the substance that promotes dilation in the blood vessels that supply the penis and lead to an erection. Oysters are best eaten raw as long as they are fresh.
Research shows that red foods, such as tomatoes and pink grapefruit, are high in the carotenoid lycopene, a phytonutrient that is full of antioxidants and helps boost circulation. A study found that lycopene can also help prevent erection problems caused by diabetes.
Lycopene is also useful in the prevention of prostate cancer - defending the body against toxins that could cause cell damage - according to a study in the journal “Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention”.
This carotenoid may also be beneficial to male fertility and sperm quality as it appears to significantly improve sperm concentration, motility and morphology.
While it’s true that diet can directly affect male sexual performance, there’s a lot of misinformation out there about foods that claim to give you better erections and make sex better.
These foods are not 100% able to guarantee performance in bed - but they do have nutrients, vitamins, and substances that positively influence sexual function and sexual health.
It should be taken into account that sexual impotence is a temporary disorder, at the same time it can be a warning from the body that something is happening at the hormonal or circulatory level.
Health problems like heart disease, high blood pressure, atherosclerosis (hardened arteries), and diabetes can all cause a lack of blood flow to the penis. That’s why, ideally, you should eat foods that dilate veins and arteries to improve circulation, and in turn, help to lower your risk of erectile dysfunction. But also, check in with your doctor!
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