Eat Berries, Lessen Risk of Erectile Dysfunction

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Doctors have said for years that exercising and keeping your weight in check can help stave off erectile dysfunction. Now, add this even simpler way: load up on dark-colored berries and citrus fruits.

In a new 10-year study of more than 25,000 men, those who ate at least three servings a week of berries or citrus were 10 percent less likely to have erection problems by the trial’s end. This held true regardless of body weight, physical activity, and whether or not the subjects smoked or took medications known to cause ED. However, there was one compounding factor: The men who ate these fruits as well as exercised fared the best, with 21 percent lower odds of ED than men who did neither.

Although regular consumption of any kind of fruit proved beneficial in this study, darker varieties such as blueberries, cranberries, oranges and grapefruit offered the biggest payoff. That’s because these are the richest sources of three specific flavonoids — anthocyanins, flavones, and flavanones — says lead researcher Aedin Cassidy, a nutrition professor at the University of East Anglia in Britain. She explains that stunted blood flow to the penis is the primary cause of ED, and these compounds help make arteries more flexible and open up vessels, allowing blood to move through more freely. "We also know these flavonoids can have anti-inflammatory effects and help modulate levels of nitric oxide in the body, which can further help blood vessels relax," Cassidy adds.

Because ED is so intertwined with vascular health, eating a few oranges or handfuls of blackberries each week can help far beyond the bedroom. "Incorporating a few additional servings of fruit in your diet will, over the long-term, protect against heart attacks," Cassidy says. "This data strengthens the importance of a healthy diet along with maintaining body weight and physical activity in preventing cardiovascular disease."