Sept. 8, 2021 -- Middle-aged men with high blood pressure and erectile dysfunction who adopt the Mediterranean diet had significantly higher testosterone levels, better exercise capacity, and better erectile performance than their peers, according to a new study.
Also, more closely following a Mediterranean diet — which emphasizes eating fruit, vegetables, whole grains and olive oil, with only modest amounts of dairy and limited red meat — was associated with better blood flow to the heart, according to the study of 250 men. .
Athanasios Angelis, MD, of the School of Medicine at the University of Athens in Greece. The study was. presented at the recent European Society of Cardiology (ESC) Congress 2021.
It seems plausible that this dietary pattern may improve fitness and erectile performance by enhancing function of the blood vessels and limiting the fall in testosterone that occurs in midlife," Angelis said in a press release.
"The findings suggest that the Mediterranean diet could play a role in maintaining several parameters of vascular health and quality of life and in middle aged men with hypertension and erectile dysfunction," he said.
"We suggest the Mediterranean diet as a basic parameter of hypertension and erectile dysfunction treatment,” Angelis said in an interview. “We advise all our patients to be careful regarding salt consumption and try to exercise regularly."
"Depending on the severity of the erectile dysfunction, we may suggest only lifestyle changes (for example,quit smoking), at least for the beginning, or combination with medication," like Viagra or similar drugs.
A 'First-Choice' Diet for Men with ED?
This research "adds to the growing evidence that a Mediterranean diet is protective against erectile dysfunction," said Joseph Whittaker, a clinical nutritionist from the University of Worcester in the United Kingdom, co-author of a related study about dietary fat and testosterone.
This way of eating "also improves cardiovascular health, so it could become a low-risk, first choice treatment for these three pathologies (low testosterone, erectile dysfunction, increased risk of cardiovascular disease), which so commonly co-exist," he said in an email.
"However, most of the research to date is observational," he said, which often has a "healthy user bias.” The men eating a Mediterranean diet are probably health-conscious individuals, with other healthy habits such as exercise, good sleep, low stress, etc. "So, was it the diet, the healthy habits, or both?"
Randomized studies to are needed to replicate the positive results of observational studies like this one, Whittaker added. In the meantime, "a Mediterranean diet will probably improve your health anyway," he said, "so trying it for the purposes of erectile function (before starting drugs) is a viable option."
Previous research has shown that dietary fat and olive oil may boost testosterone levels, Whittaker noted, and nuts have also been shown to improve erectile function.