Flavonoids may reduce erectile dysfunction

frozen mixed berries

Blueberries, citrus fruits and red wine may reduce erectile dysfunction (ED), according to a new collaborative study.

The new data reveals certain flavonoids called anthocyanins (found in blueberries, cherries, blackberries, radishes and blackcurrant), flavanones and flavones (found in citrus fruits) offer the greatest benefits in preventing the condition, especially in men under 70, according to a release today from the Blackmores Institute.

It is already known that increased exercise can improve ED, but this research shows that eating a flavonoid-rich diet is as good for ED as briskly walking for up to 5 hours a week, say the researchers.

The data shows that a higher total fruit intake was associated with a 14% reduction in the risk of ED. But when this was combined with exercise the risk was reduced by 21%.

The study was carried out by nutrition departments at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and University of East Anglia (UEA) Norwich Medical School.

New link

The researchers say that flavonoids may reduce the risk of diabetes or cardiovascular disease, but this is the first study to look at flavonoids and ED.

“Flavonoids are present in many plant-based foods and drinks including fruits, vegetables, tea, herbs and wine. We examined six main types of commonly consumed flavonoids and found that three in particular – anthocyanins, flavanones and flavones – are beneficial,” says  lead researcher Prof Aedin Cassidy from UEA.

“Men who regularly consumed foods high in these flavonoids were 10%t less likely to suffer ED. In terms of quantities, we’re talking just a few portions a week.”

The researchers asked more than 50,000 about their ability have and maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse, dating back to 1986 and also collected data about what they ate every 4 years.

The research team took into account such as body weight, physical activity, amount of caffeine consumed, and whether the participants smoked. However, the participants had to be in overall good health.

While more a third of those surveyed had suffered ED, it found that those who had a diet rich in flavonoids were less likely to experience it. And men who consumed a high intake of anthocyanins and flavanones, and who were also physically active, had the lowest ED risk.

“As well as improving sexual health for middle-aged men, there is another important benefit linked to heart health. [ED] is often an early barometer of poor vascular function and offers a critical opportunity to intervene and prevent cardiovascular disease, heart attack and even death,” says Dr Eric Rimm, senior author on the study.

Added benefits

“Men with erectile dysfunction are likely to be highly motivated to make healthier lifestyle choices, such as exercising more and eating the right foods – which would greatly benefit their long-term cardiovascular health as well.”

‘Dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of erectile dysfunction’ is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published online January 13, 2016.

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