Men should eat berries for erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the most common sexual dysfunction of middle-aged men with a prevalence of 33-52%. The most frequent physical causes of ED are vascular diseases, and therefore ED has similar risk factors (hypertension, obesity, and smoking) than cardiovascular disease. Earlier studies have found out that a healthy diet, increased physical activity, and statin therapy (cholesterol lowering medication) can decrease the incidence of ED.
According to earlier studies, also Mediterranean diet has a positive influence on men's sexual health. The Mediterranean diet consists of grains, fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and olive oil, and therefore this diet contains also high concentrations of flavonoids that may help explain the observed beneficial effects. The aim of this study was to examine the relation of the main subclasses of flavonoids with incidence of ED.
The study population consisted of 51 529 middle-aged men. In 2000, questionnaires were mailed to participants, who were asked to rate their ability to have and maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse. Furthermore, participants were asked to report historically their erection ability, since 1986. Participants were also asked to report their current function in 2004 and 2008. Response options on the 5-point scale of the questionnaire included very poor, poor, fair, good, and very good. Men with a diagnosis of ED, prostate, bladder or testicular cancer, or cardiovascular disease at the baseline were not included in the analysis.
Participants reported also their diet in 1986 and subsequently every 4 years through 2010. Flavonoid intakes were assessed for all participants. The most commonly consumed flavonoids were included: flavanones, anthocyanins, flavanols, flavonols, flavones, and polymers.
The statistical method used in this study was Cox proportional hazard regression. The covariates were marital status, smoking, BMI, physical activity, alcohol consumption, use of multivitamin supplements, energy intake, history of hypertension, history of myocardial infarction, history of hypercholesterolemia, and history of diabetes.
During 10 years of follow-up, 35.6% of participants reported incident ED. Several subclasses of flavonoids were associated with reduced ED incidence, especially flavones, flavanones, and anthocyanins. However, a higher intake of flavonoids was significantly associated with a reduction in risk of ED only in men <70 years old. The most significant sources of anthocyanins and flavanones are fruits and berries, and according to results higher total intake of fruit (strawberries, blueberries, red wine, apples, pears, and citrus products) was associated with a 14% reduction in risk of ED. This magnitude of effect is similar to e.g. 2-5 h of brisk walking per week.
The results strengthen the knowledge that a healthy diet rich in flavonoids, physical activity and weight control are important components of health to improve sexual health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. A 9-11% improvement in ED is important from a public health perspective because ED is an early barometer of poor vascular function. Therefore ED offers an opportunity to intervene earlier for the prevention of cardiovascular disease. Men with ED are naturally very motivated to adapt a healthy lifestyle to improve sexual health with resulting benefits to cardiovascular health. Furthermore, men are likely to recognize dysfunction in their sexual health earlier than the risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Penile erection is regulated by a balance between vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) and vasoconstriction (narrowing of blood vessels). Vasoconstriction is mediated via RhoA/Rho-kinase pathways. Vasodilation is regulated by nitric oxide (NO) which is an essential component in activating and maintaining an erection. Available data suggests that flavonoids can attenuate vascular contraction by inhibiting RhoA/Rho-kinase signaling pathways and therefore reducing the incidence of erectile dysfunctions.
Arctic Flavours Association recommends: Eat 100 grams of berries every day! According to studies, Nordic diet that consists of berries, vegetables, fish, rapeseed oil and whole grains, is as healthy as the Mediterranean diet.
Anni Koskela, Arctic Flavours Association
+358 40 164 6177
flavonoidit flavonit flavanonit erektiohäiriöt antosyaanit anthocyanins erectile dysfunction flavanones flavones flavonoids