American Heart Month and Valentine's Day are both during February, so there are abundant messages about heart health and romance this time of year.
For the estimated 30 million men in the U.S. with erectile dysfunction (ED), both their romantic lives and their heart health can suffer. In fact, research shows that ED can be an early warning sign of heart disease. (I've emphasized the link between erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular health on mindbodygreen before.)
Around 300 years ago, Ben Franklin wrote that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Similarly, I often tell my male patients “to be hard, eat no lard!"
Now, new scientific data backs up the benefits of eating right for your sexual health. It turns out that switching out a doughnut for an apple, a beef jerky for a pear, and a beer for some red wine can help keep sexual performance at its peak.
In the new study, researchers asked more than 25,000 health professionals to detail their diet, along with their ability to have erections. The participants were followed for 10 years. Sadly, 36 percent of men reported erectile dysfunction at the end of the study.
But the scientists discovered that the higher the intake of nutrients arising from fruits, the lower the risk of erectile dysfunction. (Technically, it was the intake of flavanones, anthocyanins, and flavones — three types of flavonoids found in fruit.) Overall, the more fruit the men ate, the lower their risk of erectile dysfunction.
So what fruits have the highest nutrient concentration to help maintain male potency? Here's the list of top fruits:
- Citrus fruits
- Red wine (Okay, not technically a whole food, but who's complaining?)
To reduce your risk of erectile dysfunction, eat at least one serving a day of whole fruit. That can be as easy as adding blueberries to your morning oatmeal or smoothie. What else can you do? Men in the study who also exercised regularly had an even lower risk of sexual difficulties.
The lead scientist, Dr. Eric Rimm of Harvard, emphasized that “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." But don't wait until you're dealing with ED to take charge of your health. Add fruit today, and keep the blue pill away.