Eating a Mediterranean diet could give men the best chance of maintaining a sex life well into old age, research suggests – and olive oil is the key.
Consuming plenty of olive oil, vegetables, fruit, fish and beans cuts the risk of erectile dysfunction by 40 per cent, a study has found.
The findings, presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Munich, suggest a healthy diet in middle age could pave the way for an active drug-free love life well into their late 60s and 70s.
Consuming plenty of olive oil, vegetables, fruit, fish and beans cuts the risk of erectile dysfunction by 40 per cent, a study has found
Researchers from the University of Athens believe olive oil is key – with men who consumed at least nine tablespoons a week less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction.
Experts studied 670 men with an average age of 67 from the Greek island of Ikaria. As well as olive oil, they found men tended to be protected if their diet also contained about 13 portions of veg a week, six pieces of fruit, three servings of fish and two portions of beans.
The scientists believe this diet helps men maintain a healthy heart and clear blood vessels, which results in a good flow of blood to the groin.
The cardiologists also found men who followed this diet had higher testosterone levels because they had lower levels of body fat – which can interfere with hormones.
Study leader Dr Christina Chrysohoou said: ‘Viagra does not improve something long-term, it can only give some short effect in order to have sexual capacity.
‘This is a drug-free solution that allows men to keep their sexual function.’
Experts studied 670 men with an average age of 67 from the Greek island of Ikaria. As well as olive oil, they found men tended to be protected if their diet also contained about 13 portions of veg a week, six pieces of fruit, three servings of fish and two portions of beans
Just 20 per cent of the men she studied had erectile dysfunction – well below the 52 per cent expected in that age group. The diet has a positive impact on the health of the aorta, a large artery which distributes blood from the heart to the rest of the body, she added.
But professor Mike Wyllie, one of the scientists who developed Viagra, believes men ‘just want to take a pill’ and ‘can’t be bothered to change their lifestyle’.
Julie Ward, of the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘It’s no surprise that the Mediterranean diet, which we know is beneficial to heart and circulatory health, might also benefit blood vessels elsewhere, and help men maintain healthy sexual function.’
Erectile dysfunction affects 52 per cent of men aged between 40 and 70.
Medical firms have long sought out ways to treat the problem – knowing an effective treatment could generate a fortune.
Viagra sales soared earlier this year when restrictions were lifted to make them available over the counter – rising 60 per cent in the first three months after the rule change in March.