We all need a little help sometimes — no one's body functions ideally 100 percent of the time. Holistically approaching care of your body is one of the best ways to deal with a potential issue and improve your overall health exponentially.
After all, we’re not just isolated pieces of a puzzle; every part works together to form the awesome person looking back at you in the mirror. An excellent example of this concept at work is using diet to handle a common but under-discussed issue — erectile dysfunction (ED).
Are there foods that kill erectile dysfunction? How can changing what you put in your body impact your performance? We’ve got all your answers.
10 Foods That Kill Erectile Dysfunction
It’s important to start with a disclaimer — foods that kill erectile dysfunction aren’t studied or regulated like ED medications (Viagra, Cialis) or other medical treatments are. Each of the foods we’re featuring has specific vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that may help improve your symptoms, but food isn’t going to solve the problem of ED.
A well-balanced diet should be combined with possible medical care and other treatment options to be at its most successful.
For many of us, the morning isn’t complete without a warm cup of coffee. But did you know that drinking coffee can do more than just make your mind feel awake? A study of subjects who drank two to three cups of coffee daily also reported the lowest incidence of ED.
While we don’t know exactly how it helps, it may have something to do with caffeine’s ability to help open up blood vessels and improve blood flow and circulation — a key factor in getting and keeping a strong erection!
Just remember everything in moderation. Too much caffeine can cause health problems, so try to find a healthy balance. Plus, if you already struggle with anxiety (especially around sex), caffeine may worsen it temporarily.
2. Dark Chocolate
Chocolate has long been thought of as an aphrodisiac — how many movies have you seen where they break out the chocolate syrup in the bedroom? Chocolate may get you in the mood, but it can also help you with your physical performance.
The darker the chocolate (with at least 70% cocoa), the more beneficial nutrients it contains. Along with flavonoids, which we’ll talk about in a minute, dark chocolate can also help your body produce more nitric acid, helping to increase blood flow where you need it most.
But don’t expect other types of chocolate, like milk or white chocolate, to give you the same benefits. Those alternatives are mostly sugar and contain very little to no flavonoids (plus, they are full of calories).
Eating fish may not be the sexiest endeavor, but there are real benefits to increasing your consumption. When you focus on adding more fish known to be high in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet — like salmon, fresh albacore tuna, and sardines — you give your body what it needs to support your heart and keep the blood flowing appropriately all over the body.
Oysters can also provide the same benefits, with even more aphrodisiac qualities! Shellfish is known for being high in zinc, which can also stimulate an increase in testosterone production. Plus, slurping down some oysters with your partner can be super hot.
4. Flavonoid-Rich Foods
You may not have heard of a flavonoid before, but chances are you’ve been eating foods that contain this vital phytonutrient for your whole life. Along with dark chocolate, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, apples, and pears are also high in flavonoids. In one study, people who focused on adding more flavonoid-rich foods to their diet experienced a reduction in ED symptoms of up to 11 percent!
Certain wines and teas may also contain flavonoids, although you should drink them in moderation. But, as a whole, adding more flavonoids to your diet is an overwhelmingly good thing.
Although you shouldn’t pack your diet with nuts (they’re incredibly calorie dense), eating them more mindfully may also help reduce your ED symptoms. Certain nuts, like walnuts, pistachios, hazelnuts, and almonds, can boost your folic acid and help your body make more nitric acid — both components of a healthy body and a successful love life.
Nitric acid is thought to be an essential “mediator” of erectile dysfunction. It’s one of the critical components of moderating blood flow to the area, and not having enough of it may seriously inhibit your ability to get and stay hard.
We know there’s nothing very sexy about oatmeal, but oats also frequently make the list of natural aphrodisiacs, so hear us out. Oatmeal is an excellent addition to any healthy diet, but it can be a specific boost for people with erectile dysfunction because of its high level of l-arginine.
L-arginine has been looked at for its potential to improve blood flow to the penis — the most blood flow you have, the more likely you are to achieve and maintain an erection.
Oatmeal may also help lower your blood pressure, reducing ED symptoms. Remember, everything in your body is connected! When you help your body function better overall, your sexual health will also improve.
7. Pomegranate Juice
Pomegranate juice may not be for everyone, but there is some anecdotal evidence that drinking more of it (or grape juice, if pomegranates aren’t your thing) may be able to help your body produce more nitric acid.
Just be mindful of the sugar content and the excess calories, and don’t drink too much of it — especially if you have other health conditions like diabetes. You can also try watering down your juice, which can help you get more water in!
8. Spicy Foods
Spicy food may not be the best for your gut or your bladder, but it can play a role in helping minimize ED symptoms. The hotter the pepper, the more the capsaicin it contains can help open up the blood vessels and keep the blood flowing smoothly.
Just make sure to wash your hands before getting busy! If you haven’t experienced what it feels like to get spicy in the more sensitive parts of your body, we suggest not finding out — it’s definitely an arousal killer. Trust us on this one.
9. Spinach (and Other Dark, Leafy Greens)
How many times did your parents impress upon you the importance of eating your greens (even though that was the last time most of us wanted to do as children)? It turns out, in addition to just being great for you, dark leafy greens like spinach are rich in folic acid — a vitamin linked to erectile dysfunction symptoms.
Besides helping relieve erectile dysfunction symptoms, folic acid may also be able to reduce the likelihood that you experience regular premature ejaculation. Zinc and magnesium are also thought to help, which is why it takes a combined effort!
Watermelon is one of the quintessential summer foods, but it may also help you get your love life back on track. While most watermelon is water, it’s also full of lycopene and L-citrulline, which can help keep your heart healthy and circulation strong.
If watermelon is out of season, carrots, pink grapefruit, and apricots are all healthy, excellent alternatives. Tomatoes are also well known for their high lycopene content and may reduce the risk of prostate cancer!
Are There Foods You Should Avoid When You Have ED?
Many foods kill erectile dysfunction, but there are also some that can contribute to the problem. It may not be necessary to cut these foods out entirely, but reducing your intake may be more beneficial than you think!
Here are a few of the potentially biggest offenders.
- Alcohol - Yes, alcohol can be a good time (in moderation) and lead to some sexual encounters, but too much of a good thing can also backfire. Alcohol can not only act as a depressant, but it can also reduce the amount of testosterone in the body. Plus, let’s be honest, you’ll make much better decisions.
- Soy - Soy is just fine in small amounts, but eating too much over time can lower testosterone (and other hormones) in the body. Too much soy may also increase the risk of infertility, so if you plan to have a baby, you may want to back off.
- Red meat - Red meat has been tied to masculinity, but eating it too often may work in the opposite direction. Red meat may be delicious but can also contribute to high cholesterol and circulation issues. Try substituting chicken, turkey, or fish for at least one or two meals with red meat. Your body will thank you.
- Fried and processed foods - Society is full of “quick” foods that may be delicious but have a host of potential long-term consequences. We all know that eating fried, processed foods is “bad” for our overall health, but it can also increase the odds that you deal with more and more episodes of ED as you age.
What Else Can You Do for ED?
As we mentioned, foods that kill erectile dysfunction are only a small part of the picture. It would be great to drink a cup of pomegranate juice or eat a handful of nuts and immediately get an erection, but unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way. So what else can you do if you’re experiencing ED?
The first stop, especially if ED is becoming a frequent issue instead of a one-off problem (which happens to everyone at some point), is to schedule an appointment with your medical provider. That way, you can narrow down the problem and treat any related health problems contributing to it. You can also talk about potential ED medications if you’re interested and your doctor thinks it's appropriate.
In addition to working on your diet, you should also focus on getting enough exercise! Exercise is one of the kindest things you can do for cardiovascular health — most professionals recommend at least 30 minutes a few times a week. Plus, working out can help you feel better about your body, giving you more confidence and reducing sexual anxiety.
It’s also a good idea to take a close look at what’s going on in your sex life. Have things been feeling stale? Are you fighting with your partner? Sex, and the ability to get an erection, can be just as much mental as physical.
If you haven’t been feeling it, talk to your partner about ways to spice it up again. Introducing a prostate massager or a vibrating prostate plug, trying out new positions, and focusing more on foreplay can help get you back in the mood and make achieving an erection less of a struggle. Even mutual masturbation can change the game!
Really, though, it all comes down to communication. You can’t fix something you won’t admit is an issue, especially if you don’t talk to your partner about what’s going on. We understand that ED can be embarrassing, but the more we talk about it, the more we can reduce the stigma.
After all — erectile dysfunction isn’t something you’re doing wrong. It’s a side effect of another issue. Open communication can help you open up to your partner and find solutions together.
Many foods combat erectile dysfunction, but nothing can work if you don’t focus on the bigger picture. Changing your diet to include more of the foods we mentioned can be an excellent part of a whole-body approach to the issue — just make sure you’re also talking to your doctor and keeping things fresh in the bedroom!
We’re here for all of your bedroom needs, from improving your prostate health to making sex more satisfying — don’t hesitate to reach out with questions and feedback!
Role of Caffeine Intake on Erectile Dysfunction in US Men | NHANES
Dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of erectile dysfunction | The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
Association between serum folic acid level and erectile dysfunction | PubMed