According to new research, consuming a Mediterranean diet may help men with erectile dysfunction. The link between diet and the condition may be partially due to blood pressure readings.
Erectile dysfunction is a disorder of the small arteries, which lose the ability to dilate and augment flow. Testosterone levels that tend to decline during middle age is known to contribute to its onset along with high blood pressure.
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to lower blood pressure and prevent heart attacks and strokes in individuals with high cardiovascular risk. Men with hypertension are twice as likely to have erectile dysfunction compared to those with normal blood pressure. This is why researchers set out to find a connection between the diet and erectile dysfunction.
The Mediterranean diet involves an emphasis on fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil. It can also include a modest consumption of dairy products and limits red meat.
Tracking the Study
The study included 250 men with high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction. The average age of the participants was 56 years. The researchers analyzed whether the diet was linked with fitness, testosterone levels, arterial stiffness, blood flow, and erectile dysfunction.
All participants were required to consume foods considered to be part of the Mediterranean diet. Questionnaires were used to track diet, and testosterone was measured in blood samples. A treadmill test also measured exercise capacity.
Researchers found that men with a higher Mediterranean diet consumption had higher coronary flow reserve and testosterone. This also translated into better erectile performance and lower arterial stiffness.
Participants with greater exercise capacity had higher coronary flow reserve, testosterone, and lower arterial stiffness. These men also recorded consuming more of a Mediterranean-style diet.
Study author Dr. Athanasios Angelis said, “In our study, consuming a Mediterranean diet was linked with better exercise capacity, healthier arteries and blood flow, higher testosterone levels, and better erectile performance. While we did not examine mechanisms, it seems plausible that this dietary pattern may improve fitness and erectile performance by enhancing the function of the blood vessels and limiting the fall in testosterone that occurs in midlife.”
More research is needed to confirm these findings, but this study is a starting point for physicians to guide patients with erectile dysfunction to consider diet and exercise as part of a protocol to help with the condition. As high blood pressure is known as a cause of erectile dysfunction, primary treatments for hypertension should be considered.