Men who consume a diet rich in flavonoids – typically found in fruit and red wine – are less likely to experience erectile dysfunction, according to a joint UK/US study.
The research, carried out by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Harvard University, found that eating a flavonoid-rich diet is as beneficial to erectile function as briskly walking for up to five hours a week.
The most beneficial flavonoids were found to be anthocyanins (found in blueberries, cherries, blackberries, radishes, blackcurrants and red wine), flavanones and flavones (found in citrus fruits).
The news comes a week after UK officials proposed to cut the recommended weekly drinking limit to 14 units for both men and women, with at least two alcohol free days per week.
Dame Sally Davies, the chief medical officer for England and Wales, was quoted in an interview as saying the idea that red wine has health benefits is an ‘old wives’ tale’.
Prof Aedin Cassidy, of UEA, said of the latest study, ‘Men who regularly consumed foods high in these flavonoids were 10% less likely to suffer erectile dysfunction.’
‘In terms of quantities, we’re talking just a few portions a week… The top sources of anthocyanins, flavones and flavanones consumed in the US are strawberries, blueberries, red wine, apples, pears and citrus products.’
However, UEA was careful not to push the wine consumption message too far. It said it was particularly interested in doing more research on blueberries.
The study also found that a higher total fruit intake is associated with a 14% reduction in the risk of erectile dysfunction – or 21% when combined with exercise.
‘Dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of erectile dysfunction’ is published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.