A Mediterranean diet could be the best way to maintain a man’s sexual health well into old age. A new study suggests that men who eat a diet rich in olive oil, along with vegetables, fruit, fish, and beans have a substantially lower risk of suffering from erectile dysfunction.
As reported by Newsweek, researchers based these findings on an analysis of 600 Greek men. Only 20 percent of these men from the island of Ikaria had erectile dysfunction. The study focused on older men, with an average age of 67. Statistically, one in two men between the ages of 40 and 70 encounter difficulties with their sexual health.
According to Dr. Christina Chrysohoou of the University of Athens, who led the study, a Mediterranean diet is a better choice than other medical intervention.
“Viagra does not improve something long-term, it can only give some short effect in order to have sexual capacity. This is a drug-free solution that allows men to keep their sexual function.”
An increased consumption of foods typical of Mediterranean cuisine has been linked to better heart health and circulation. It stands to reason that improving blood circulation throughout the body would also increase blood flow to sexual organs. According to the Mayo Clinic, a Mediterranean diet “has been associated with a lower level of… the ‘bad’ cholesterol” that can clog arteries.
Dr. Chrysohoou elaborated, “Of all of the components of the Med diet, it is the olive oil that has a specific effect on aortic dilatation and sexual function as well.”
Senior cardiac nurse Julie Ward, of the British Heart Foundation, said in a statement cited by Newsweek, “It’s no surprise the Mediterranean diet, which we know is beneficial to heart and circulatory health, might also benefit blood vessels elsewhere, and help men maintain healthy sexual function.”
“Because the blood vessels in the penis are so narrow, being unable to achieve or maintain an erection can be one of the first signs of atherosclerosis–the narrowing of arteries that can lead to a heart attack or stroke.”
A Mediterranean diet is heavily plant-based. Fish and poultry should be the primary meats, while red meat should be eaten only a few times each month. Meals should be seasoned with herbs and spices rather than salt. Swapping butter for healthy fats, like olive oil or canola oil, rounds out the diet.
The Mayo Clinic cites a study of more than 1.5 million adults that shows the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of many diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s.