Humans have always been trying to enhance their sex drive and performance with food.
And why not use one form of hunger to enhance another? From the energizing 26-ingredient Andean aphrodisiac smoothie, to Jamaica's infamous ram-goat soup, to good ol' fashioned raw oysters, there is no shortage of strange, time-honoured traditions from around the world claiming to make people more performant sexually, while keep them nourished.
Modern science, on the other hand, has largely taken the food (and fun) out of male erectile issues by reducing the antidote to a little blue pill. Medical experts have long been skeptical of all-natural sexual enhancers, but there is growing evidence of at least one type of food having a very a real and measurable impact on the limp biscuit.
Nutrient flavonoids may not sound like the sexiest food around, but they appear to be helping men combat erectile dysfunction (ED), whether they know it or not, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Flavonoids are present in many plant-based foods and drinks, and a specific subset of flavonoids called anthocyanins are already known to have significant health benefits.
Typically, these are fruits with deep red, blue, and purple pigmentation usually associated with high levels of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties—think blueberries, blackberries, blackcurrants, or the grapes that go into wine.
Anthocyanins are also related to good blood flow and can relax blood vessels which, needless to say, can be of great assistance to men with erectile problems, and participants in the study who consumed a diet rich in anthocyanins and flavonoids were less likely to suffer from ED.
The study actually began in 1986 with the recruitment of 51,529 middle-aged men. The cohort was made up of dentists, pharmacists, optometrists, osteopathic physicians, podiatrists, and veterinarians between the ages of 40 and 75 years old, 97 percent of whom were of white European descent. Every four years, their dietary information was collected and provided the basis for measuring flavonoid levels.
The main causes of erectile dysfunction are typically heart disease, clogged blood vessels, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and obesity. Obviously, all of the cardiovascular issues can be mitigated with regular exercise, but what makes this current study insightful is that it suggests that blood flow to the penis can been increased with diet alone.
"We already knew that intake of certain foods high in flavonoids may reduce the risk of conditions including diabetes and cardiovascular disease," lead researcher and University of Anglia professor Aedin Cassidy said in a press release. "This is the first study to look at the association between flavonoids and erectile dysfunction, which affects up to half of all middle-aged and older men."
The team's findings also shed light on how age, diet, and exercise intersect. "We also found that the benefits were strongest among younger men," the researchers said. "Men with erectile dysfunction are likely to be highly motivated to make healthier lifestyle choices, such as exercising more and eating the right foods—which would greatly benefit their long-term cardiovascular health as well."
Thanks to the hard work of Aedin Cassidy et al.—there is yet another reason to drink wine, just don't drink too much because it can have the reverse effect.
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