Diet Affects the Risk of Erectile Dysfunction

By Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
May 07, 2021

Getting at least three servings a week of certain fruits and red wine could cut your risk. Let healthy eating boost your bedroom confidence.

You’ll often read about miracle foods. The catch: you’d usually need to eat way too much of any one food to get the miracle effect seen in an animal or people taking supplements. Always aim for a diet with a variety of recommended foods. Each will contain different nutrients you need.

Eating at least three servings a week of a combination of the following foods — strawberries, blueberries, red wine, apples, pears, and citrus products — could cut your risk of erectile dysfunction (ED) by 19 percent, according to data on more than 25,000 men.

The results add to the growing evidence that erectile problems are not mainly or usually caused by anxiety or a neurological problem, but a sign of poor blood flow. ED, which increases with age, is a warning sign that you may be at risk of heart disease and stoke. High blood pressure, obesity, and smoking increase your risk of both ED and cardiovascular disease.

In this research, the dietary benefits were strongest in younger men who were also overweight.


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How the study worked

Over about 10 years, the researchers asked volunteers about their diet and other key questions, including their ability to have and maintain an erection during intercourse. More than 35 percent had a problem at some point. But men who ate foods high in flavonoids, also called antioxidants, had fewer erection issues. That’s probably because flavonoids increase blood flow, improving blood pressure and helping to open blood vessels while making your arteries more flexible.

There are six kinds of flavonoids. The ED study found foods rich in three — anthocyanins, flavones, and flavanones — especially helpful, with blueberries and citrus fruit at the top. Men who got at least five hours a week of exercise and consumed flavonoid-rich foods had the lowest ED risk.

What foods might help?

Blueberries. These berries contain all six of the flavonoids. Put them in your oatmeal for a fiber-rich breakfast or eat them for dessert. The anthocyanins in blue berries may improve markers of heart disease. Blueberries also may help you burn off fat.

Like red wine, blueberries are a good source of resveratrol, a flavonol, another type among the six flavonoids.

Some research links resveratrol to lower levels of inflammation and blood clotting, although it still isn’t clear that it prevents heart disease.

Other berries. Blackberries, cherries, and raspberries also offer all six flavonoids. Strawberries have some anthocyanins.

Grapes or red wine. Grapes and red wine are a good source of anthocyanins.

Red wine is considered more beneficial than white because the nutrients, including resveratrol, in wine are concentrated in grape skin, and vintners remove the skin to make white wine earlier in the process. There is some evidence that having a bit less than one glass of wine a day may help protect you against heart disease. But you may be able to get the same effects from grapes or grape juice. If alcohol has ever been a problem for you, opt for the grapes.

Citrus fruits. Oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, lemons, and limes contain flavanones, one of the six flavonoids the ED study found especially helpful.

Apples and pears. It may very well be true that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Apples may help you burn fat for the same reasons blueberries do. Like apples, pears are full of flavonoids and other nutrients and high in fiber.

Don’t peel off the skin — it contains the most flavonoids. The darker, redder apples contain more flavonoids than yellow or green ones.

Hot peppers. To get your flavones, eat celery, parsley, various herbs, and hot peppers.


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May 07, 2021

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN