Wine is poured into a glass
Wine is poured into a glass REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

Eating flavonoid-rich foods such as red wine, citrus fruits and berries are associated with a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction. The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, reveals that men, especially those under 70, enjoy these benefits in the long run.

The study was a collaboration of the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Harvard University. The flavonoids anthocyanin, flavanones and flavones offer the best benefits in preventing the illness. Anthocyanins can be found in blueberries, blackberries, cherries, blackcurrant and radishes while flavanones and flavones are found in citrus fruits. Chocolates also have flavonoids but are unlikely to cause a significant effect.

Additionally, eating a flavonoid-rich diet is as good for erectile function as brisk walking up to five hours a week. The researchers said that consuming these fruits decreases erectile dysfunction risk by up to 14 percent. Exercise can improve erectile function and when coupled with this diet, a risk reduction of 21 percent can be observed.

The researchers examined six main types of popular flavonoids and included more than 50,000 healthy middle-aged men in this study. Since 1986, the participants were asked about their ability to have and maintain an erection for sexual intercourse. The team also collected the subjects’ dietary intake data every four years.

The men’s body weight, caffeine consumption, physical activity and smoking activity were also assessed. They found out that more than one third of the men claimed to suffer an onset of erectile dysfunction. However, the participants who ate foods rich in anthocyanins, flavanones and flavones were less likely to suffer the disease.

Plus, men who were the most physically active and also consumed these foods have the lowest risk of erectile dysfunction. Senior author Eric Rimm, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, added that erectile dysfunction is an early indicator of poor vascular function, and it offers health care professionals a clue to intervene and prevent cardiovascular disease, heart attack and possibly, even death.

Lead researcher Aedin Cassidy, a professor in Norwich Medical School at UEA, said flavonoids have been known to reduce the risk of acquiring conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Their new research is the first one to look at the link between erectile dysfunction, which affects half of all middle-aged and older men, and flavonoids.