Blueberries and red wine, which are rich in flavonoids, may reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction, especially in younger men, a new study has claimed.
The study by researchers from the University of East Anglia (UEA) in UK and Harvard University in US shows that eating foods rich in certain flavonoids is associated with 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 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 study also showed that a higher total fruit intake was associated with a 14 per cent reduction in the risk of erectile dysfunction. And that a combination of consuming flavonoid-rich foods with exercise can reduce the risk by 21 per cent.
“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,” said lead researcher Aedin Cassidy from UEA.
“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,” Cassidy said.
“Men who regularly consumed foods high in these flavonoids were 10 per cent less likely to suffer erectile dysfunction. In terms of quantities, we’re talking just a few portions a week,” she said.
More than 50,000 middle aged men were included in this large population based study. They were asked about their ability to have and maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse dating back to 1986. Data on dietary intake was also collected every four years.
The research team took into account a range of factors such as body weight, physical activity, amount of caffeine consumed, and whether the participants smoked. The research was also restricted to men who were otherwise in good health.
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.
“We also found that the benefits were strongest among younger men,” Cassidy added.
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.