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The Best Fruit for Your Sex Life

The same flavonoid-rich blueberries that help men heat up things in the bedroom.
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Got the bedroom blues? Blueberries are proven to, ahem, perk things "up." According to a collaborative study from the University of East Anglia and Harvard University, eating flavonoid-rich foods is associated with a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction in men.

The intake of certain flavonoids – a group of antioxidants present in many plant-based foods – not only reduces the risk of conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, but it can also reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction, a condition that affects up to half of all middle-aged and older men. Of the six main types of flavonoids, three in particular—anthocyanins (found in blueberries), flavanones and flavones (both found in citrus fruits)—offer the greatest benefits in preventing ED.

The large population-based study followed more than 50,000 middle-aged men in good health over 24 years, dating back to 1986. They were asked to rank their ability to have and maintain an erection sufficient for intercourse over this period. Self-reported data on dietary intake was also collected every four years.

The analysis combined both sets of data to determine if diet was linked to sexual performance and took into account a range of factors such as body weight, physical activity, amount of caffeine consumed, and whether the participants smoked.

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Over a third of men reported new onset erectile dysfunction. But those who consumed just a few portions a week of foods rich in anthocyanins, flavones and flavanones (of which the top sources in the US are blueberries, citrus products, strawberries, red wine, apples, and pears) were 10 percent less likely to suffer the condition.

Even more good news for those of you who get your sweat on regularly: Men who consumed a high intake of anthocyanins and flavanones and were also physically active had the lowest risk of erectile dysfunction. (And we're not talking about one or two percentage points. We're talking about a 21 percent difference!)

If blueberries, oranges, and wine aren't your thing, don't worry: The study also showed that a higher total fruit intake was also associated with a 14 percent reduction in the risk of ED. Either way you look at it, you'll want to toss more into your smoothies.

Improving your sexual health, means you also end up improving your long-term heart health. Senior author, Dr. Eric Rimm explains, "Erectile dysfunction is often an early barometer of poor vascular function and offers a critical opportunity to intervene and prevent cardiovascular disease, heart attack and even death."

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Olivia Tarantino
Olivia Tarantino is a senior editor of Eat This, Not That!, specializing in nutrition, health, and food product coverage. Read more