An interesting new study posed a possible factor in a health issue that worries a lot of men: erectile dysfunction. According to Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia, England, a diet rich in flavonoids may help reduce the risk of this awkward condition.
Flavonoids are a compound found in vegetables and fruit, and are responsible for giving a brilliant color to berries and citrus. Three specific flavonoids are considered the likely reason for the association with a lower risk of erectile dysfunction: flavanones and flavones, which are found in citrus fruits like oranges and lemons, and anthocyanins, found in blackberries and red wine (bonus!) among other sources.
As reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, flavonoids can play a role in ED as well as in overall health. The study, which was done by comparing regular health surveys of 25,000 men with a test group of men eating a high percentage of flavonoid-rich foods, found that those on a high-fruit diet that included flavonoids had between a 10-15% lower risk of erectile dysfunction.
Before you start filling your fridge with cherries and raspberries, however, note that the study has not come with universal acclaim; some argue that the effect is likely due to a healthier diet overall. In the Northwest Indiana Times, Dr. Bruce Gilbert of the Arthur Smith Institute of Urology notes that men in the study who had a flavonoid-rich diet lived healthy lifestyles in general, eating well and exercising regularly. Since ED is also associated with coronary artery disease (often a consequence of an unhealthy lifestyle) the drop in percentage could be do to a healthier overall diet and not specifically to flavonoids. “I’m a firm believer that food is medicine,” Gilbert said. “But does this paper give me the good sense that they have made their point that eating more berries will decrease erectile dysfunction? No.”
Despite Gilbert’s reservations, others have pointed out that increasing flavonoid consumption may not be a bad idea, even if it’s not directly responsible for preventing erectile problems. Dr. Landon Trost, a urologist at the Mayo Clinic, tempered Dr. Gilbert’s statements. “It will not be surprising to many that increasing fruits and vegetables reduces diseases, including erectile dysfunction,” Dr. Trost told the NI Times. “However, it provides yet another motivating factor to adopt healthy lifestyle changes.”
Guess it’s off to the grocery store after all!
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