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Can Diet Help Erectile Dysfunction?

By Clay McNight

If you're a man with erectile dysfunction, also referred to as ED, it may be a wake-up call to improve your overall health. Erectile dysfunction is often a symptom of more serious health problems. Luckily, diet is a key factor in the prevention and reversal of this arterial disease. By eliminating certain artery-clogging foods, focusing on healthy options and living a healthy lifestyle, you can help reverse erectile dysfunction.

Understanding the Causes

It is first important to understand the mechanism behind erectile dysfunction so that you can take appropriate steps to reverse the condition. While erectile dysfunction can have a variety of causes, the American Heart Association notes that the most common cause is atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is the accumulation of plaque on artery walls, which can prevent blood vessels from delivering blood to vital organs, including the heart, brain, and in the case of erectile dysfunction, the genitals. According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, risk factors for erectile dysfunction include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, smoking, obesity, diabetes and unhealthy diet.

Diet and Atherosclerosis

Because diet is directly related to blood pressure, cholesterol levels, obesity and diabetes, and because diet itself is a major factor in the onset of atherosclerosis, it can also be used to prevent and even help reverse the condition. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends diets high in fiber, plant foods, omega-3 fatty acids and low in saturated fat, trans fat and processed foods. A maximum of 35 percent of daily calories should come from fat, and you should consume no more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol per day.

Foods That Help Reverse ED

According to a study published in 2010 in "The Journal of Sexual Medicine," Mediterranean diets are associated with the reversal of ED. Mediterranean diets are high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and olive oil. Eggs, dairy products, fish and meat are consumed in low to moderate amounts. A 2011 article published in the "International Journal of Andrology" noted that foods high in antioxidants, such as pomegranates, can be effective in improving ED.

Foods to Avoid

It is equally important to avoid foods that can contribute to atherosclerosis, including foods that are high in saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium and sugar. Examples include fried foods and baked goods, which typically contain trans fats and high levels of sodium. Soft drinks contain excessive amounts of sugar, and diets high in animal fats, such as whole-fat dairy, meat and eggs, can contribute significant amounts of saturated fat and cholesterol to the diet, which is why it's important to consume these foods in moderation.

Other Considerations

Reversing ED requires a holistic approach that focuses on an overall healthy lifestyle. In addition to a balanced diet, exercise plays an important role. A study published in 2011 in the "Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences" concluded that patients with erectile dysfunction may benefit from aerobic exercise. Other important factors include quitting smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight and managing stress.

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