Boosting your sex life can be as easy as eating berries and drinking red wine. Flavonoid-rich foods like citrus fruits, berries and red wine cut the risk of men developing erectile dysfunction (ED), a new study suggests.

According to researchers from the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia, consuming foods rich in flavonoids is linked with a lowered risk of ED in middle-aged men.

"We already knew that intake of certain foods high in flavonoids may reduce the risk of conditions including diabetes and cardiovascular disease," Professor Aedin Cassidy from UEA and lead researcher said.

To land to their findings, more than 50,000 middle-aged men were enrolled in the study and were asked about their ability to have and maintain an erection. The researchers also collected data of their dietary intake every four years for about three decades.

They found that increased fruit consumption was linked with a 14 percent decrease in the risk of ED. Moreover, eating flavonoid-rich food and exercise can lower the risk by as much as 21 percent.

After examining six types of flavonoids, Anthocyanins, flavanones and flavones were found to provide the greatest benefit in preventing ED. Anthocyanins can be found in cherries, blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrant and radishes, while flavanones and flavones are found in citrus fruits.

The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, revealed that men below 70 years old who ate food rich in specific flavonoids have experienced a reduced risk of ED.

Past studies have proven that exercise is a great factor in improving ED, but in this new study, it reveals that eating flavonoid-rich food is also effective in preventing the condition just as much as brisk walking for up to 5 hours per week.

"Men who regularly consumed foods high in these flavonoids were 10 percent less likely to suffer erectile dysfunction. In terms of quantities, we're talking just a few portions a week," Cassidy added.

Erectile dysfunction is a growing concern among men nowadays. According to the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, about 5 percent of men who are 40 years old suffer from complete ED, which means they cannot have and maintain erection. At 70 years old, the number will increase to about 15 percent.

For mild to moderate ED, approximately 10 percent of men are affected per decade of life. For instance, 50 percent of men in their 50s and 60 percent of men in their 60s are affected. Though it can occur at any age, it is more common in middle-aged men and older.

"As well as improving sexual health for middle-aged men, there is another important benefit linked to heart health," said Dr. Eric Rimm, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the HSPH and senior author of the study.

"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," he added.

By eating healthy food, like those rich in flavonoids, exercising regularly and choosing healthier options will benefit not only the sex life, but also the overall well-being of men.

Photo: Lori Branham | Flickr

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