A Mediterranean diet is associated with improvements in erectile dysfunction, according to research presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress 2021.
Erectile disfunction primarily occurs when small arteries lose the ability to dilate and allow proper blood flow. It is more common in men with hypertension or declining testosterone levels.
The researchers, led by Athanasios Angelis of the University of Athens, Greece, found that men who adhered to a Mediterranean diet, emphasising fruit, vegetables, olive oil, and whole grains, had better blood flow and testosterone, as well as better erectile performance.
The researchers suggest this may happen because the Mediterranean diet is known to lower blood pressure and prevent heart attacks and stroke in people with hypertension.
To test whether diet made a difference, the team assessed 250 men with high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction at an average age of 56. They compared vascular health, blood flow, and testosterone between the men and looked at their adherence to a Mediterranean diet using a questionnaire.
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Using these results, they also found that men who consumed a Mediterranean diet had a higher exercise capacity, which may lead to better erectile ability.
“In our study, consuming a Mediterranean diet was linked with better exercise capacity, healthier arteries, and blood flow, higher testosterone levels, and better erectile performance,” says Angelis.
“While we did not examine mechanisms, it seems plausible that this dietary pattern may improve fitness and erectile performance by enhancing function of the blood vessels and limiting the fall in testosterone that occurs in midlife.
“The findings suggest that the Mediterranean diet could play a role in maintaining several parameters of vascular health and quality of life and in middle-aged men with hypertension and erectile dysfunction.”
Deborah Devis is a science journalist at Cosmos. She has a Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Science (Honours) in biology and philosophy from the University of Sydney, and a PhD in plant molecular genetics from the University of Adelaide.
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