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High Blood Pressure, Diet, Exercise, and Better Sex

Of course you know that eating right and exercising are good for you. But do you know that a healthy diet and regular physical activity are directly related to your ability to have normal sexual function?

High blood pressure -- or hypertension -- is a leading cause of erectile dysfunction. Regular exercise and a focus on nutrition are essential for controlling blood pressure. You'll have much more success treating erection problems if you manage blood pressure first.

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Also, following a low-calorie diet -- and burning calories through exercise -- helps you tone your body and lose weight. In a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), about one-third of obese men with erectile dysfunction were able to regain their sexual function after two years just by losing weight and exercising regularly.

Many other studies have shown that exercise fights depression, which also has a major impact on sexual function. With a leaner, toned body and a better sense of well-being and self-esteem, you're more likely to feel sexually attractive and have normal erections.

But there's a lot of confusing information out there about diet and exercise. Maybe you're wondering exactly what you should eat and which type of exercise to choose.

A Diet to Fight High Blood Pressure

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) conducted two key studies which resulted in the development of a specific eating plan for people with high blood pressure. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been proven to reduce blood pressure. Following this plan can lower blood pressure in as little as two weeks.

In general, the DASH diet emphasizes eating whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and low-fat dairy products -- while limiting salt, fat, and sugar overall.

Here's an example of a DASH diet plan (and serving sizes) for someone who eats 2,000 calories a day:

  • Grains -- 7-8 servings (such as 1 slice bread; 1 oz. dry cereal; 1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal)
  • Vegetables -- 4-5 servings (such as 1 cup raw leafy vegetable; 1/2 cup cooked vegetable; 6 ounces vegetable juice)
  • Fruit -- 4-5 servings (such as 1 medium fruit; 1/4 cup dried fruit; 1/2 cup fresh, frozen or canned fruit; 6 ounces fruit juice)
  • Nuts, beans, seeds -- 4-5 servings (such as 1/3 cup or 1 1/2 oz. nuts; 2 tablespoons or 1/2 oz. seeds; 1/2 cup cooked dry beans)
  • Low-fat dairy products -- 2-3 servings (such as 8 oz. milk; 1 cup yogurt; 1 1/2 ounces cheese)
  • Lean meat -- 2 servings or less (such as 3 oz. cooked meats, poultry, or fish)
  • Fat and oils -- 2-3 servings (such as 1 teaspoon soft margarine; 1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise; 2 tablespoons light salad dressing; 1 teaspoon vegetable oil)
  • Sweets -- 5 servings per week (such as 1 tablespoon sugar; 1 tablespoon jelly or jam; 1/2 oz. jelly beans; 8 oz. lemonade)
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