The Sweet Secret to a Healthy Sex Life

Blueberries may be the secret to a healthy sex life; at least, that’s what researchers from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England, say. Their groundbreaking study, published today in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” explores how foods rich in flavonoids, like blueberries, may reduce the risk of men developing erectile dysfunction. The results are eye-opening.

The Nuts and Bolts

The study examined a sampling of over 50,000 middle-aged men, charting their ability to have and maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse, as well as dietary information. Data was collected every four years starting in 1986.

The results showed that a diet rich in certain flavonoids was associated with diminished risk in erectile dysfunction, particularly for those men under 70 years old, although Professor Aedin Cassidy, the lead researcher on the study, explained that the protective effect of the flavonoids was independent of other factors, including smoking, body weight, caffeine, medication, and even other factors associated with high erectile dysfunction risk.

It’s Not Just About Sex

Cassidy was keen to point out that the link between flavonoids and ED is actually a bit bigger than sex. “Our previous research has linked a higher flavonoid intake to a reduced risk of developing heart disease and diabetes,” she said. “Erectile dysfunction 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.”

The data gleaned from the study show some important steps for men at risk for ED to take, not only for their sexual health, but for their cardiovascular health as well.

So What Does This Mean?

For men at risk of developing erectile dysfunction, there are two things to do. The first is to remain active — increased exercise has already been shown to reduce the risk of developing ED. That said, the study also showed that eating a flavonoid-rich diet was as good for erectile function as briskly walking for up to five hours a week, which means that the second thing to do is to load up on tasty, healthy foods.

There are many different types of flavonoids, but according to the study, anthocyanins, which are found in all blue, red, or purple foods, but especially blueberries, cherries, blackberries, radishes, blackcurrant, and — yes — red wine, were some of the most powerful. Also of interest were flavanones and flavones, found in citrus fruits.

The study also showed that a higher total fruit intake was key, and a combination of a flavonoid-rich, healthy diet with regular exercise could reduce the risk of ED by a whopping 21 percent.

Just three portions of fruit a week were enough to be associated with reduced risk, but more couldn’t hurt either. A grapefruit with breakfast, some berries at lunch, and a glass of red wine with dinner might be all that men need to take advantage of these powerful substances and get back in the… saddle.

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Berries image via Shutterstock

Emily Monaco is a food and culture writer based in Paris. Her work has been featured in the Wall... More about Emily Monaco