View All Articles

Berries May Improve Men’s Sexual Health

March 29, 2016

Chocolate and oysters have long been considered aphrodisiacs by many, but a new study suggests that there’s a food that can actually improve men’s sexual health: berries.

Berries, blackberries, cherries and the like are good for your overall health, but they also may help men maintain erections, according to the study.

Researchers found that foods rich in flavonoids — nutrients that give fruits and vegetables their color and are also found in citrus fruits and red wine — are linked to a lower risk of erectile dysfunction.

The study involved more than 25,000 middle-aged and older men who had filled out health surveys regularly for the last 30 years. In three of the years, researchers asked the men to rate their ability to get and keep an erection. They then compared their answers to the amount of foods with flavonoids that the men said they ate in a separate survey.

The study found that more fruit consumption reduced a man’s risk of erectile dysfunction by 14 percent. Men who ate flavonoid-rich foods and exercised reduced their risk by 21 percent. Researchers also discovered that anthocyanins, flavanones and flavones, which are three types of flavonoids, have the most significant impact in preventing erectile dysfunction, a disease that affects 52 percent of men overall and 40 percent of men age 40. Blackberries, blueberries, cherries and radishes all contain anthocyanin, an antioxidant found in blue, purple and red fruits and vegetables. Studies also have shown that anthocyanin is linked to improved blood vessel health in both humans and animals, which may explain why it could be beneficial in combating erectile dysfunction.

Researchers said that all it takes is a few servings a week of flavonoid-rich foods for men to reap the health benefits. However, it’s important to note that the study only found an association between these foods and men’s sexual health — not a direct cause-and-effect relationship. In general, men who eat berries also tend to eat healthier, so that’s probably why they had lower risks for erectile dysfunction.

Erectile dysfunction is very common and continues to grow in prevalence as men live longer and generally more unhealthy lives — thanks in part to the obesity epidemic. Though this condition is common, it can signal other, more serious health issues. For example, if you are young and experience erectile dysfunction, talk to your doctor as soon as possible. In young healthy males erectile dysfunction can be an early warning sign of heart disease.

If you’re concerned about this condition, there are things you can do to reduce your risk. Staying fit and healthy is key, so get a few hours of moderate exercise every week. And follow a balanced diet, berries included.