Mediterranean diet could be better than ‘Viagra’ for erectile dysfunction

According to new research from the University of Athens, only nine tablespoons olive oil a week – a part of the popular Mediterranean diet, could be better than Sildenafil or Viagra in improving a man’s erectile dysfunction by up to 40 percent. The study was published in the latest issue of the journal Circulation.

Olive oil provides a host of health benefits and this is one of the new angles that suggest inclusion of this oil in daily diet. Olive oil can not only keep the blood vessels healthy and free of atherosclerosis but can also maintain good circulation throughout the body. The Mediterranean diet comprises of fruits, vegetables, pulses, oily fish, nuts and olive oil. It is considered to be one of the most heart healthy diets available at present. Erectile dysfunction affects around 4.3 million Britons over 40 years and present lifestyle, stress and alcohol has all been blamed for the current status. Numbers show that at least one in two men between ages 40 and 70 years suffer from erectile dysfunction. Drugs like Viagra can help maintain an erection and is used widely for treatment of erectile dysfunction. It is available without prescription but is not free from side effects such as headaches, back pain and problems with vision.

Mediterranean salad. Image Credit: Marian Weyo / Shutterstock
Mediterranean salad. Image Credit: Marian Weyo / Shutterstock

For this study the team of researchers included 660 Greek men with an average age of 67 years. Around 20 percent of these participants from the island of Ikaria, had erectile dysfunction. They noted that the men who had been consuming a Mediterranean diet had much lower problems with their performance in bed than their counterparts who ate other forms of diet. The men who took olive oil were found to have a higher level of testosterone which reduces the risk of erectile dysfunction and allows the man to have an erection that is adequate for sexual intercourse.

According to lead researcher Dr Christina Chrysohoou, the sexual capacity of middle aged and older men depended mainly upon regular exercise and a healthy balanced diet. She added that men who followed the Mediterranean diet can reduce their risk of erectile dysfunction by up to 40 percent. She explained that this diet can lower the chances of getting metabolic syndrome including high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. It can keep the blood vessels healthy and is really a “long term solution” for men to maintain their sexual prowess. Viagra, she added, produces only a short term effect to have sexual capacity.

Other experts have welcomed this finding and have said that apart from the heart and cardiovascular health, Mediterranean diet can also improve sexual function and this is no surprise.

Mediterranean diet and aging – Study 2

Yet another new study has shown that the Mediterranean diet can prolong life.

Marialaura Bonaccio, an epidemiologist at the Mediterranean Neurological Institute, IRCCS Neuromed led this study. She said that the aging process is rapid all over the world and it is time researchers look for “tools” that could decelerate the aging process. “We all know that [the] Mediterranean diet is good for health, but there are few studies focusing on the elderly,” she said. This new study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition.

The study looked at 5,200 individuals aged 65 and above at the Molise region in Italy recruited between 2005 and 2010 and followed up until 2015. Their diet and health data were gathered. During this period, 900 individuals had diet.

Their diets were scored between 0 and 9 to see how close it was to the Mediterranean diet. People who were closely adhered to the Mediterranean diet were also those who undertook more physical activity. Those with scores of diet between 7 and 9 (high adherence to Mediterranean diet) had a 25 percent reduction in risk of death due to any cause compared to those who had scores between 0 and 3. With each point increase in adherence, there was a 6 percent reduction in death rates due to any cause. Bonaccio says that starting a good diet and lifestyle early is beneficial.

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Written by

Dr. Ananya Mandal

Dr. Ananya Mandal is a doctor by profession, lecturer by vocation and a medical writer by passion. She specialized in Clinical Pharmacology after her bachelor's (MBBS). For her, health communication is not just writing complicated reviews for professionals but making medical knowledge understandable and available to the general public as well.


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