A healthy diet may help reduce the risk for erectile dysfunction, a new study concludes.
Researchers used data from a large study of male health professionals aged 40 to 75. The participants filled out health questionnaires, including details on diet, every four years between 1998 and 2014.
The scientists scored the men based on the strength of their adherence to the heart-healthy Mediterranean diet — high in vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and unsaturated fats, and low in meats and whole-fat dairy foods.
There were 21,469 men in the study, published in JAMA Network Open. In all age groups, higher compliance with the diet was associated with a lower incidence of erectile dysfunction. The study controlled for smoking, self-reported disease, medication use and other factors.
Compared with the one-third of men under 60 who were least compliant with the diet, the one-third who were most compliant had a 22 percent lower risk of erectile dysfunction. The most compliant men aged 60 to 70 had an 18 percent reduced risk, and those 70 and over had a 7 percent risk reduction.
The lead author, Dr. Scott R. Bauer, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, said that the study was observational and had to be confirmed with randomized trials. Still, he said, “Men who want to maximize their erectile function should be aware of the possible contribution of diet in addition to other lifestyle factors.”