Erectile dysfunction (ED) is “the persistent or recurrent inability to achieve and maintain a penile erection of sufficient rigidity to permit satisfactory sexual activity during a time period of at least 3 months”. The primary cause is vascular insufficiency.
The Mediterranean Diet* (MedDiet) is believed to improve sexual activity, especially erectile dysfunction. This article by Di Francesco, et al, is an analysis of the available studies on ED and the MedDiet, with 4 clinical trials found. It is know that this diet has an influence on metabolic syndrome, hypertension, obesity, and insulin resistance.
The studies showed that the MedDiet resulted in less ED in male diabetics with the most careful observance of the diet. This included high use of virgin olive oil, vegetables, fruits, with moderate use of wine, whole grains, nuts, fiber, and fish. MedDiet was shown to reduce inflammation. The relief from ED may be related to improved lipid and glucose metabolism, increased antioxidants, and increased arginine levels.
Nitric oxide (NO) is produced from arginine by the enzyme nitric oxide synthase (NOS) or from nitrate by xanthine oxidase. NO works to relax the constriction of blood vessels, allowing increased blood flow. Recently, the MedDiet with extra-virgin olive oil was found to increase antioxidant activity, with increased superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase levels. Virgin olive oil increases NO bioavailability. The diet, rich in tomatoes, is high in vitamin C, lycopene, and rutin, which are anti-inflammatory and increase NO levels.
CONCLUSION: Mediterranean Diet helps prevent erectile dysfunction by improving lipid and sugar metabolism, antioxidant activity, and arginine and nitric oxide (NO) levels.
NOTES: *The Mediterranean Diet is high in beans, whole grains, fruit, vegetables, fish, and nuts, while being low in red and processed meats and moderate in alcohol. It contains less in saturated fats than in monounsaturated fats like in olive oil.
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Rainbow Grocery sells the following products: Arginine, catalase, rutin, SOD (superoxide dismutase), vitamin C, and many components of the Mediterranean diet.
Sofrito is a mixture of vegetables, including tomatoes, garlic or onions, with olive oil which contain phenols and carotenoids which are anti-inflammatory and increase bioavailability of NO which is beneficial in ED. It can be added to other dishes for flavor. It is good in soups, stews, and rice dishes. Following is a recipe for sofrito sauce or Brazilian refogado:
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup white onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, chopped
Pinch of saffron threads
1 tomato, peeled, seeded and diced
1 1/2 tsp. pimentón or sweet smoked paprika
1 fresh bay leaf, notches torn every 1/2 inch
*Heat a medium saucepan over medium-low heat.
*Coat with the oil, then add the onion and garlic. Sweat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is light golden brown.
*Add saffron, if using, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
*Add the tomato, raise the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato releases its juices, and becomes dry. *Stir in the pimentón and bay leaf.
*Let the refogado cool, then refrigerate it in airtight container for up to 3 days. Discard bay leaf before using.