Erectile Dysfunction: Flavonoids May Reduce Risk

First Posted: Jan 17, 2016 07:34 PM EST

Could flavonoids be the secret to helping reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction?

Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia found that participants who consumed foods with higher levels of flavonoids were less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED). 

"We already knew that intake of certain foods high in flavonoids may reduce the risk of conditions including diabetes and cardiovascular disease," lead study author Aedin Cassidy, a nutrition professor at UEA, said in a press release reported by FOX News. "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."

Researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of East Anglia based their findings off a longitudinal study that involved 25,000 middle-aged and older men who answered survey questions regarding sexual health and diet over the last 20 years--all of whom were in good physical health at the beginning of research.

After accounting for factors that included smoking habits, caffeine consumption, weight and physical activity, researchers found that flavonoids--the biochemical that gives fruits and vegetables their vivid colors--were linked to lower ED rates, particularly when combined with physical activity. Researchers also attributed three specific flavonoids to this reduction including anthocyanins, flavnones and flavones.

The study results further revealed that men who consumed lots of foods with high levels of flavonoids were up to 10 percent less likely to suffer erectile dysfunction, according to Cassidy via a news release. Cassidy further added that just a few portions of the foods were all that was necessary per week to help decrease risk. 

"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," said senior study author Eric Rimm, an epidemiology and nutrition professor at Harvard. "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."

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