In a study from the University of East Anglia and Harvard University, researchers found that flavonoid-rich foods are linked to a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction.
They found that eating foods rich in certain flavonoids is linked to a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction in men, with the greatest benefit in those under 70.
Of all the different flavonoids, Anthocyanins (found in blueberries, cherries, blackberries, radishes, and blackcurrant), flavanones, and flavones (found in citrus fruits) were found to offer the greatest benefits in preventing the disease.
This is the first study to look at the association between flavonoids and erectile dysfunction, which affects up to half of all middle-aged and older men.
Flavonoids are present in many plant-based foods and drinks including fruits, vegetables, tea, herbs, and wine.
In the study, researchers tested more than 50,000 middle-aged men.
The team took into account a range of factors such as body weight, physical activity, amount of caffeine consumed, and whether the participants smoked.
They examined six main types of commonly consumed flavonoids and found that three in particular – anthocyanins, flavanones, and flavones – are beneficial.
More than one-third of the men surveyed reported suffering new onset erectile dysfunction.
But those who consumed a diet rich in anthocyanins, flavones, and flavanones were less likely to suffer the condition.
It is already known that increased exercise can improve erectile function, but this research shows that eating a flavonoid-rich diet is as good for erectile function as briskly walking for up to five hours a week.
The team found men who regularly consumed foods high in these flavonoids were 10 percent less likely to suffer erectile dysfunction
They also showed that a higher total fruit intake was linked to a 14% reduction in the risk of erectile dysfunction. And that a combination of consuming flavonoid-rich foods with exercise can reduce the risk by 21%.
The team also looked at other lifestyle factors and found that men who consumed a high intake of anthocyanins and flavanones and who were also physically active had the lowest risk of erectile dysfunction.
The researchers say the top sources of anthocyanins, flavones, and flavanones consumed in the US are strawberries, blueberries, red wine, apples, pears, and citrus products.
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The study was published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and conducted by Prof Aedin Cassidy et al.
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