Men who regularly consume foods rich in flavonoids, such as fruit, vegetables, tea, and wine, may have a lower risk of erectile dysfunction (ED), a new study finds.
In particular, anthocyanins (found in blueberries, cherries, blackberries, black currants, and radishes), flavanones (found in citrus fruits), and flavones (found in parsley, thyme, celery, and hot peppers) were linked with the greatest benefits for ED prevention.
“Men who regularly consumed foods high in these flavonoids were 10% less likely to suffer erectile dysfunction. In terms of quantities, we’re talking just a few portions a week,” stated lead researcher Aedin Cassidy, PhD, professor of nutrition at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, in a press release.
For the joint study with Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Dr. Cassidy and colleagues examined food-frequency questionnaires completed every 4 years by 25,096 mostly Caucasian men from the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. In 1998, none of the men had ED, cardiovascular disease, or prostate, bladder, or testicular cancers.
During 10 years of follow-up, ED developed in 35.6% of subjects, according to results published online in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. After adjusting for cardiovascular and other factors (such as caffeine and alcohol consumption, body mass index, smoking, and physical activity), the investigators discovered that specific classes of flavonoids were associated with reduced incidence of ED: flavones (-9%), flavanones (-11%), and anthocyanins (-9%).
Men with the highest dietary intake of flavonoids from fruit had a 14% reduction in ED risk. This impact is equivalent to 2 to 5 hours of brisk walking each week.
The investigators performed an analysis by age and discovered a higher intake of these flavonoids was significantly associated with lower ED risk only in men younger than 70 years.
“Our data strengthen the knowledge that a healthy diet, specifically one rich in several flavonoids, together with increased physical activity and maintenance of body weight are important components of health to improve sexual health and CVD risk factor reduction,” Dr. Cassidy’s group wrote. “These lifestyle modifications will likely provide benefit regardless of use of current drug therapies, including phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors.”
Emerging evidence suggests flavonoids improve endothelial function and blood pressure, which may protect erectile function. Consuming these particular flavonoids as part of a healthy diet also reduces the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
- Cassidy A, Franz M, and Rimm EB. Dietary Flavonoid Intake and Incidence of Erectile Dysfunction. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.122010.
- Blueberries, citrus fruits and red wine associated with reduced erectile dysfunction [press release]. University of East Anglia. January 13, 2016.