Foods that Help Erectile Dysfunction
Make sure to add these foods to your diet for improved sexual functioning.
Published: Wednesday 03 November 2021
Those with erectile dysfunction have a tough time getting and maintaining an erection for long enough during sex. Although sometimes caused by psychological factors such as stress or anxiety, physical factors are responsible for the majority of ED cases, especially as we get older.
Improvements to your overall health give you the best chance of reducing your ED symptoms. It’s advisable to exercise regularly, eat a nutritious diet, and limit alcohol and tobacco consumption when experiencing ED (and for your health in general).
To improve erectile functioning, it’s worth building your diet around foods that improve your cardiovascular health, increasing your blood flow and supporting the production of sex-related horomones.
It’s worth considering the severity of your erectile dysfunction when implementing dietary changes. If you have mild to moderate ED, making lifestyle and dietary changes may improve your ability to get lasting erections. If you have severe or persistent ED, dietary changes alone are unlikely to significantly improve sexual functioning, so it’s key to think of your diet as just one part of the greater improvement process.
For a diet that contributes to normal erectile functioning, include the following ingredients in your meals.
Which Foods Help Erectile Dysfunction?
Spinach is rich in nitrates which have a vasodilating effect, promoting sufficient blood flow including to the penis. Spinach also contains lots of folate (folic acid), the natural form of vitamin B9, that is known to also boost blood flow. Studies have shown a link between low folic acid levels in the blood and erectile dysfunction, although more research is needed to confirm if consuming more folic acid improves erectile dysfunction.
Blackberries, along with blueberries, cherries and raspberries, contain all 6 types of flavonoids, a plant chemical that’s been found to improve endothelial function and blood pressure, as well as reducing risk of diabetes and heart disease when consumed as part of a healthy diet.
Watermelon and Tomatoes
Watermelon and tomatoes are rich in lycopene, an antioxidant that is associated with improved vascular function. Some animal studies have even shown that lycopene can restore erectile function, but further studies are required to make this applicable to humans.
Watermelon also contains the amino acid L-citrulline, the supplementation of which has been found to reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow, especially when combined with PDE5-inhibitors like Sildenafil or Tadalafil.
Oats contain L-arginine, a nonessential amino acid that can relax the muscle lining of blood vessels leading to better blood flow, as well as possibly boosting testosterone levels and libido. Soluble fibre in oats and porridge also help reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or “bad” cholesterol, a known contributor to erectile dysfunction.
Oysters and other shellfish are rich in the essential mineral zinc which is linked to higher testosterone levels. Supplementing your diet with zinc may increase your testosterone levels, and oysters contain by far the highest levels of zinc in widely-accessible foods.
The dietary fibre found in avocados can contribute to better cardiovascular health, reducing blood flow-related ED. They also contain some zinc which is associated with testosterone production. Additionally, the vitamin E and Selenium found in avocados are linked to improved sperm motility, quality and fertility.
The capsaicin found in chilli peppers may have temporary metabolism-boosting effects and neuropeptide activating agents that may stimulate the nerves in the penis. Chilli also expands the blood vessels, allowing for greater blood flow.
A study of 53 men in California found that of the 42 participants who had improvements in their ED during the study, over half had been consuming pomegranate juice. Whilst it’s not definitively proven, this could be to do with the high antioxidant content of pomegranates, stopping free radicals from inhibiting sufficient blood flow to the penis.
As well as being rich in flavonoids, the high potassium content of bananas contributes to normal heart health and circulation. Getting enough potassium in your diet helps regulate sodium levels, reducing your blood pressure and the risk of heart problems.
- Lee and Gerriets, 2021. Nitrates
- Karabakan et al., 2016. Association between serum folic acid level and erectile dysfunction
- Cassidy et al., 2016. Dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of erectile dysfunction
- Gao et al., 2012. Lycopene ameliorates erectile dysfunction in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats
- Shirai et al., 2018. Oral L-citrulline and Transresveratrol Supplementation Improves Erectile Function in Men With Phosphodiesterase 5 Inhibitors: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Crossover Pilot Study
- El Taieb., 2019. Daily Oral l-Arginine Plus Tadalafil in Diabetic Patients with Erectile Dysfunction: A Double-Blinded, Randomized, Controlled Clinical Trial
- Mayo Clinic, 2018. Cholesterol: Top foods to improve your numbers
- Prasad et al., 1996. Zinc status and serum testosterone levels of healthy adults
- Keskes-Ammar et al., 2003. Sperm oxidative stress and the effect of an oral vitamin E and selenium supplement on semen quality in infertile men
- McCart et al., 2015. Capsaicin may have important potential for promoting vascular and metabolic health
- Nigris et al, 2005. Beneficial effects of pomegranate juice on oxidation-sensitive genes and endothelial nitric oxide synthase activity at sites of perturbed shear stress
- Cassidy, 2016. Dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of erectile dysfunction
Authored by Toby Watson
Pharmica Medical Writer
Toby (BSc) is an experienced medical writer, producing educational articles on many areas of health including sexual health, fitness, nutrition and mental health.
He particularly enjoys debunking misconceptions around heath conditions and their treatments, researching each topic in detail and writing easily-accessible content.