ED is a sign of narrowed arteries throughout a man’s body, including the arteries to his heart and brain, putting him at high risk for heart attack, stroke, and death.
A found that men with ED have a 59% higher risk of coronary heart disease or atherosclerosis, a 34% higher risk of stroke, and a 33% higher risk of dying from any cause, compared with men without symptoms of ED.
But a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes can help unblock arteries and reduce heart disease and ED risk.
In fact, found that a men who followed a Mediterranean diet—that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains—had healthier arteries and blood flow, higher testosterone levels, and better erectile performance.
Another found that each additional daily serving of fruits or vegetables reduced ED risk in men with diabetes by 10%. Strawberries, apples, blueberries, and citrus fruits may be especially beneficial.
A 2016 study found that men with the highest intakes of anthocyanins, flavones, and flavanones, phytonutrients found in these and other fruits, lowered their risk for ED by 14% when compared to those who consumed the least.
Fruits and veggies may also help improve fertility in men.
Researchers compared the dietary intake of antioxidants in 10 fertile and 48 infertile men and correlated the findings with sperm motility. Infertile men were twice as likely to have a low intake of fruits and vegetables (less than five servings per day) compared with fertile men.
And in case there was any doubt, men on vegan diets have as much testosterone as men who eat meat. Researchers assessed diet records for 191 participants and tracked their testosterone levels, finding no differences in testosterone levels.
has shown that neither soy foods nor isoflavone supplements from soy affect testosterone levels in men.
Avoiding animal products, especially dairy, and eating a plant-based diet also protects the prostate, which secretes fluid that nourishes and protects sperm.
that men drinking more than one glass of whole milk per day had double the risk for fatal prostate cancer, compared with men drinking less.
But a study found that men who followed a vegan diet had a 35% lower prostate cancer risk than those following a nonvegetarian, lacto-ovo-vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian, or semi-vegetarian diet.
This Sexual Health Awareness Month, try a plant-based diet for yourself—and for someone you love.
, is the Kickstart India Program Specialist at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, D.C. He uses his working knowledge of chronic disease, nutrition, and Indian culture to develop content for the 21-Day kickstart India program.