If getting ready to go in the bedroom used to be easy, but now you find yourself reaching for the Viagra, you're not alone. Erectile dysfunction, or ED, is more common than you think. It's estimated that around 20 million men in the U.S., alone, deal with ED, primarily those over 40. There are a number of things which can bring it about, including high blood pressure, diabetes, being overweight or certain medications, all of which may contribute to an insufficient blood flow below the belt, due to narrowed blood vessels.
Some lifestyle changes can be beneficial, such as quitting smoking, exercising regularly and losing weight. A doctor can help decide whether or not medication is necessary in each particular case, but there are some foods, too, which have been shown to help.
The summertime favorite might not be what comes to mind when you think of sexy aphrodisiacs like strawberries and chocolate, but some research suggests it could be just as good. A 2008 Texas A&M study found that a nutrient called citrulline, found in watermelons, can have a blood vessel relaxing effect similar to Viagra's.
"Watermelon may not be as organ specific as Viagra," author Bhimu Patil said, “but it’s a great way to relax blood vessels without any drug side-effects.”
Omega-3 fatty acids are your friend when it comes to fighting ED. They're also a friend to your heart.
There's a strong link between heart disease and ED -- remember, it's all about getting the blood flowing and pumping properly. Omega-3s can help prevent heart disease by helping to keep your blood vessels healthy and functioning properly while preventing inflammation. Studies have shown that men who have a diet containing whole grains, fruits, veggies and fatty fish have a lower likelihood of getting ED.
The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings of fatty fish a week -- like salmon or albacore tuna.
A recent study found that eating foods rich in flavonoids -- a plant compound -- can reduce your risk of ED. Blueberries, cherries, blackberries, and black currants were found to be particularly helpful in warding off the condition. When combined with exercise, the flavonoid-rich foods reduced the risk of ED by 21 percent.
We'll see you in the produce section.
OK -- not everyone is a fan, but if you can tolerate the strong-tasting, smelly bulb, it can help between the sheets. Garlic is helpful in preventing the hardening of the arteries, and can help prevent heart disease, which as we mentioned, is linked to ED.
A very small study even found that six out of seven men with ED saw improvements by consuming four cloves of garlic a day for three months.
Just make sure you take a breath mint before you get busy.
Nuts and seeds are an excellent source of protein and healthy fats in our diets. Pistachios, in particular, contain l-arginine, which the body converts into nitric oxide. If that sounds familiar, it's because it helps your vessels with blood flow.
A small Turkish study of 17 men with ED found that the consumption of 100 grams of pistachios every day for three weeks resulted in improvements to their condition. They also saw improvements in cholesterol levels. A win-win.
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