Erectile dysfunction makes it difficult to enjoy satisfying sex and can interfere with relationship happiness. While foods can't cure erectile dysfunction, improving your overall diet by emphasizing certain foods could help minimize your symptoms. Getting any necessary treatment for underlying conditions, such as neurological disease, depression or diabetes, is important. Nutritional changes shouldn't replace medical treatment, but they may make treatment measures more effective while improving your overall wellness.
Fruits and Vegetables for Antioxidants
Fruits and vegetables are prime sources of antioxidants, which support your body's ability to resist illnesses -- including those that interfere with sexual function. A study published in "Die Pharmazie -- An International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences" in March 2012 showed that the antioxidant lycopene helped restore erectile function in diabetic rats by lowering blood sugar levels and lowering damage from toxic substances known as free radicals. Good sources of lycopene include tomatoes, red grapefruit, apricots, watermelon, guava and papaya. Fruits and vegetables are also lower in calories than other foods and valuable sources of fiber, which promotes appetite control. These factors are important because extra weight can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Whole Grains for Arterial Health
High blood pressure, cholesterol and triglyceride levels can damage the arteries in your penis, leading to erectile dysfunction. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least three whole-grain foods -- ideally six to eight -- per day for improved arterial health. Whole grains supply more antioxidants and fiber than refined grains, such as white flour. Replace white bread, instant rice and low-fiber cereals with hearty whole-grain alternatives, such as 100 percent whole-grain bread, brown rice and oatmeal. Other nutritious whole grains include quinoa, wild rice and barley.
Fish, Nuts and Seeds for Healthy Fat
Fish, nuts and seeds are valuable sources of essential nutrients, including healthy, unsaturated fats. A study published in the "International Journal of Impotence Research" in 2006 compared the diets of 100 men with and without erectile dysfunction. Researchers found a strong link between a Mediterranean-style diet, which emphasizes healthy fats, and normal erectile function. The omega-3 fats in flaxseeds, walnuts and oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel and herring, provide anti-inflammatory benefits and could help improve your cholesterol and blood pressure health. Replace unhealthy fat sources, such as fried, red and processed meats, with grilled, baked or poached fish. Rather than snack on potato chips or candy, have a small handful of mixed nuts. For omega-3 benefits at breakfast, add ground flaxseeds to your smoothie or cereal.
Foods Fortified With Vitamin B-12
Up to 15 percent of the population is deficient in vitamin B-12, a nutrient prevalent in animal products, such as meat and seafood, that plays an important role in metabolism and brain function. A chronic vitamin B-12 deficiency may contribute to erectile dysfunction, reports Harvard Health Publications. If you absorb vitamin B-12 poorly or have difficulty meeting your needs due to a strict vegetarian diet, seek out foods fortified with B-12, such as cereals, nondairy milks, meat substitutes and nutritional yeast. To determine how much of the daily value for vitamin B-12 a fortified food provides, check the nutrition label.