Best Foods For Erectile Dysfunction

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What is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction (impotence) is a health condition in which a person is not able to maintain a firm erection to have sex. This can result in stress and ultimately influence one's self-esteem. 

Possible causes related to erectile dysfunction

  • Hypertension
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Tobacco and alcohol
  • Few prescription drugs (NSAIDs, anti-depressants, and high blood presure medication)
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Stroke
  • Fatigue
  • Reproductive organs surgery (testicles, bladder or prostate)
  • Low testosterone

Symptoms of erectile dysfunction

  • Not getting an erection
  • Not being able to maintain an erection
  • Sexual desire is reduced

How important is the diet in managing Erectile Dysfunction?

Food is as important in impotence as it is vital in any other disease or illness. A diet should be high in nutrients that could reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction (impotence). According to the Mediterranean or Alternative Healthy Eating Index of Diet 2010, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, and fish (omega-3 fatty acids)can be beneficial for this health issue while processed or red meat, can worsen its symptoms.  enriched dietcan significantly reverse the erectile dysfunction condition.1

What are the key nutrients for Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction can be monitored and improved  by consuming essential food nutrients that the body requires to overcome this condition. These important nutrients are:

  • L-Arginine food
  • Nitric Oxide food
  • Antioxidant food
  • Omega-3 fatty acids 
  • Zinc 

L-Arginine 

L-Arginine is an amino acid that assists in the making of proteins. This amino acid is suggested for mild to moderate impotence. In a previously documented case, taking a  dose of 1500-5000mg of L-Arginine remarkably improved erectile dysfunction with inactive drug or no cure.

According to the International Index of Erectile Function (IIEF), a high dose of L-Arginine given for three consecutive months significantly improves erectile dysfunction.3

Some food products that contain high L-Arginine include:

  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Red meat
  • Fish
  • Dairy products
  • Nuts and seeds
Food4L-Arginine4 (per cup) (g)
Turkey16.207g
Chicken2.790g
Beef4.131g
Pumpkin seeds6.905g
Watermelon seeds5.289g
Sesame seeds4.875g
Dried walnuts4.522g
Almonds3.525g
Pine nuts3.258g
Soybeans5.865g
Raw peanuts4.567g
Chickpeas3.878g

Nitric Oxide 

Nitric oxide is an element required for the health of blood vessels. This compound has a major role in improving cardiac health, treating erectile dysfunction, and lowering high blood pressure. Moreover, nitric oxide also helps in the communication of nerve cells and improves immunity. 

Nitric oxide involves two key features: oxygen supply and oxygen demand.It normalises the blood flow and vascular effect involving the enzyme guanylate cyclase by regulating oxygen and obstructing cytochrome c oxidase.5

Foods rich in nitric oxide are: 

  • Green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach)
  • Citrus fruits (lemons, oranges)
  • Beets
  • Pomegranate

Consuming these nutrients in adequate proportion can effectively aid erectile dysfunction. Dietary supplements rich in nitric oxide work by nitric oxide synthase involving dependent and independent pathways thus improving exercise performance, enhancing healing and respiration feedback.6 

Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that obstruct or prolong certain types of cell damage. These substances are found naturally and they are used to treat heart disease, cancer, and several other diseases. 

The most essential antioxidants are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E,while other significant ones include, glutathione, flavonoids, lipoic acids, selenium, manganese, and coenzyme Q10.

They are mostly present in plants. These free radicals are extracted from food and are involved in maintaining and regulating certain mechanisms to repair DNA and preserve health. 

The major role of an antioxidant-rich diet is eliminating oxidative stress by an imbalance of stimuli and defence. Conditions such as ageing, cardiovascular, diabetes, and cancer play a significant effect in oxidative stress. Modern lifestyle, decreased exercise, and exposure to chemicals are aggravating oxidative stress.7

Foods rich in antioxidants are:

  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries)
  • Dark chocolate
  • Tomato
  • Green tea

Omega-3 fatty acids 

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fat found in food like fish. The three types of omega-3 fatty acids are: 

  • Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA)
  • Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA)
  • Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

These fatty acids are key aspects in supporting heart, eye, and brain health. They also reduce a significant amount of inflammation and  improve immunity. Omega-3 fatty acids are generally present in plants and animals. 

The risk of irregular heartbeat (arrhythmias) is reduced by food intake rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Plaque is built up in the form of fat, calcium, and cholesterol that solidify and obstruct the arteries and it also slows down blood pressure. 

Multiple research showed that a higher dose greater than 2-4g/day of eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid shows significant decreases in cardiovascular disease.8

Foodsrich in omega-3 fatty acids are: 

  • Fatty fish (mackerel, sardines, salmon)
  • Flaxseeds
  • Walnuts
  • Chia seeds
FoodOmega 3 Fatty Acid (ALA,EPA or DHA) (g)
Mackerel0.59g DHA, 0.43g EPA
Farmed salmon1.24g DHA, 0.59g EPA
Wild salmon1.22g DHA, 0.35g EPA
Sardines0.74g DHA, 0.45g EPA
Chia seeds5.055g ALA
Flaxseeds6.703g ALA
Walnuts3.346g ALA

Zinc 

Zinc is an essential mineral that helps in improving the immune system, enhances wound healing and cures diarrhoea. It is found in plants, animals, and supplements to overcome its deficiency. Furthermore,  it also supports skin health, secure from inflammation and acne. 

This nutrient is available in various food sources but it is better absorbed from animal-originated foods. A vegetarian person must ensure they are maintaining an adequate daily intake of zinc. The recommended daily intake for women is 8 milligram, while for men is 11 milligram. 

Zinc plays a significant role in the functioning of a hormone called testosterone. Dihydrotestosterone is the active form of testosterone obtained by enzyme 5 alpha-reductase in the presence of zinc. Thus zinc deficiency can lead to poor receptor activity.9

Zinc-rich foods are:

  • Oysters
  • Lean meats (beef, lamb)
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Dairy products
Food10Zinc10 (g) 
Meat (beef, lamb)4.79mg/100g serving
Oysters33mg/six medium oysters
Nuts (peanuts)28.35g/ounce
Seeds (hemp)Tablespoon (30g) contains 27% DV men and 37.1% DV women

Which foods should you avoid or limit?

Many foods must be avoided or taken in moderation to reduce erectile dysfunction. These include:

  • High processed and sugar foods
  • High alcohol consumption
  • Excessive sodium rich diets
  • Saturated fats and trans-fats

Regular eating of sugar foods results in increased weight and body mass index (BMI) and that BMI could ultimately result in impotence. Similarly consumption of high amounts of processed meat would result in the building of atherosclerosis and ultimately causes blockage in arteries and disrupts the oxygen supply and blood flow.

Alcohol dependence can result in premature ejaculation with decreased sexual desire. This could lead to decreased blood flow to penis and generate erectile dysfunction. 

Saturated fats and trans fats could increase bad cholesterol and that could disrupt the blood flow to the penis followed by impotence. 

What are the lifestyle recommendations alongside diet?

Lifestyle recommendations can be met in several ways, of which, a few are quite essential to decrease or prevent impotence. These are:

  • Physical activity and regular exercise
  • Stress controlling protocols
  • Quitting smoking
  • Healthy body weight maintenance

Nutrition and lifestyle are the driving forces for nitric oxide production, levels of testosterone, and erectile function. Lifestyle modification can productively reduce clinical inflammation to improve impotence. Sexual dysfunction is reduced by increasing lifestyle habits. Furthermore, educational activities should be encouraged to promote a healthy lifestyle.11 

Summary

  • Erectile Dysfunction (impotence) can be controlled or prevented by changing dietary and lifestyle habits
  • L-Arginine, antioxidants, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, and nitric oxide are beneficial elements in enhancing erection
  • Foods rich in L-Arginine like chicken, nuts and seeds, dairy products; turkey helps in calming blood vessels thus promoting the proper flow of blood
  • Vasodilation can be pumped or increased by eating green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, beets, and pomegranates to eradicate erectile dysfunction
  • Berries, tomatoes, green tea, and dark chocolates fight against free radicals mainly oxidative stress thus facilitating cardiac health
  • Shellfish, oysters, and nuts productively facilitate heart health remarkably offering blood flow in the pelvic area
  • Testosterone found in zinc is crucial for erectile dysfunction and that deficiency can be overcome by consumption of lean meats, dairy items, nuts, and fish.
  • Highly processed diet, excessive sugar intake, increased alcohol intake, and consuming more salt and saturated fats should be avoided to prevent this condition
  • There should be a comprehensive strategy for a healthier state by performing daily workouts, managing excessive body weight, controlling stress, and cessation of smoking
  • Lifestyle modification along with dietary-rich foods could generate esteem living while forecasting impotence
  • The body Mass Index (BMI) of an adult man should be within the desirable limit to prevent erectile dysfunction (impotence)
  • All chronic illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, obesity, etc should be managed to reverse erectile dysfunction
  • Consumption of plant and animal-based nutrients should be adapted according to daily dietary allowance to avoid excessive use of nutrients
  • Always consult your healthcare professional to discuss any medical illness and treatment

References

  1. Bauer SR, Breyer BN, Stampfer MJ, Rimm EB, Giovannucci EL, Kenfield SA. Association of diet with erectile dysfunction among men in the health professionals follow-up study. JAMA Netw Open [Internet]. 2020 Nov 13 [cited 2023 Dec 24];3(11):e2021701. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7666422/
  2. Rhim HC, Kim MS, Park YJ, Choi WS, Park HK, Kim HG, et al. The potential role of arginine supplements on erectile dysfunction: a systemic review and meta-analysis. J Sex Med. 2019 Feb;16(2):223–34. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30770070/
  3. Menafra D, de Angelis C, Garifalos F, Mazzella M, Galdiero G, Piscopo M, et al. Long-term high-dose l-arginine supplementation in patients with vasculogenic erectile dysfunction: a multicentre, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. J Endocrinol Invest [Internet]. 2022 May 1 [cited 2023 Dec 24];45(5):941–61. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/s40618-021-01704-3
  4. High-arginine foods: Sources, benefits, and risks [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Dec 24]. Available from: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323259
  5. Chen K, Pittman RN, Popel AS. Nitric oxide in the vasculature: where does it come from and where does it go? A quantitative perspective. Antioxid Redox Signal [Internet]. 2008 Jul [cited 2023 Dec 24];10(7):1185–98. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2932548/
  6. Kiani AK, Bonetti G, Medori MC, Caruso P, Manganotti P, Fioretti F, et al. Dietary supplements for improving nitric-oxide synthesis. J Prev Med Hyg [Internet]. 2022 Oct 17 [cited 2023 Dec 24];63(2 Suppl 3):E239–45. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9710401/
  7. Sharifi-Rad M, Anil Kumar NV, Zucca P, Varoni EM, Dini L, Panzarini E, et al. Lifestyle, oxidative stress, and antioxidants: back and forth in the pathophysiology of chronic diseases. Frontiers in Physiology [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Dec 24];11. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphys.2020.00694
  8. Elagizi A, Lavie CJ, O’Keefe E, Marshall K, O’Keefe JH, Milani RV. An update on omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular health. Nutrients [Internet]. 2021 Jan [cited 2023 Dec 24];13(1):204. Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/13/1/204
  9. Te L, Liu J, Ma J, Wang S. Correlation between serum zinc and testosterone: A systematic review. Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology [Internet]. 2023 Mar 1 [cited 2023 Dec 24];76:127124. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0946672X22002048
  10. Healthline [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Dec 24]. 10 best foods to boost your zinc intake. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/best-foods-high-in-zinc
  11. Maiorino MI, Bellastella G, Esposito K. Lifestyle modifications and erectile dysfunction: what can be expected? Asian J Androl [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 Dec 24];17(1):5–10. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4291878/

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Qayyum Mumtaz

Master in healthcare management, Public Health, Riphah International University

Qayyum Mumtaz is an experienced healthcare professional with a firm background in medical writing, pharmacy, public health and pharmacovigilance. He has earned his MSc in Healthcare Management specialisation in Public Health (MS-HCM). Prior to that he has completed Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm-D) with a major in Pharmacy. He is honoured for his expertise related to patient safety, healthcare programs and pharmaceuticals in community care. He has long standing experience as a registered pharmacist (RPh) and is ambitious to contribute as a medical article writer. He also served as a pharmacovigilance focal person.

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