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Mediterranean Diet May Improve Erectile Dysfunction in Middle-Aged Men

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Mediterranean Diet May Improve Erectile Dysfunction in Middle-Aged Men

Following a Mediterranean-style diet may help relieve symptoms of erectile dysfunction (ED) in middle-aged men with the condition, according to a new study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress.

Erectile dysfunction is a common problem in men with diabetes, affecting 37.5% of those with type 1 and 66.3% of those with type 2, by one estimate. This high prevalence suggests that doctors should screen men with diabetes for ED, which often goes undiagnosed and untreated — possibly due to the hesitance of many men to bring up the issue at doctor appointments. Effective treatments for ED are available, including drugs approved for the condition like Viagra (generic name sildenafil), Cialis (tadalafil), Stendra (avanafil) and Levitra (vardenafil). A study published earlier this year also showed that for men with type 2, taking the diabetes drug Trulicity (dulaglutide) may reduce the risk for ED or reduce the severity of ED in men who already have the condition.

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Mediterranean diet linked to improved erectile performance

For the latest study, researchers assessed how well 250 middle-aged men with high blood pressure and ED adhered to a Mediterranean diet — based on a diet score that emphasized fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and olive oil, as well as modest amounts of dairy products and a low intake of red meat. Each participant received a diet score ranging from 0 to 55, with higher values indicating greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet. They then looked at how this score was linked to measures of aerobic fitness, blood flow, arterial stiffness, and erectile performance, as well as testosterone levels. A treadmill test was used to measure exercise capacity, and ED severity was measured through a five-question survey that yielded a score of 0 to 25, with higher scores values indicating better erectile performance.

The researchers found that participants with a Mediterranean diet score above 29 had better blood flow, higher testosterone levels, and better erectile performance (defined as an erectile performance score of 14 or higher). They also found a link in the other direction — participants with greater exercise capacity were more likely to have a Mediterranean diet score above 25, and also tended to have better blood flow, higher testosterone, and better erectile performance.

“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,” said study author Dr. Athanasios Angelis of the University of Athens, Greece, in a press release. “While we did not examine mechanisms, it seems plausible that this dietary pattern may improve fitness and erectile performance by enhancing function of the blood vessels and limiting the fall in testosterone that occurs in midlife.”

Want to learn more about the Mediterranean diet? Read “Eating Patterns and Type 1 Diabetes: Mediterranean Diet” and “Five Reasons to Try the Mediterranean Diet,” then try five of our favorite diabetes-friendly Mediterranean recipes.

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips

Quinn Phillips on social media

A freelance health writer and editor based in Wisconsin, Phillips has a degree from Harvard University. He is a former Editorial Assistant for Diabetes Self-Management and has years of experience covering diabetes and related health conditions. Phillips writes on a variety of topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of health and public policy.

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