Scientists from the University of Athens have discovered that olive oil may be more effective than Viagra at treating erectile dysfunction, U.K. paper The Independent reports.
Scientists looked at health and diet in a group of 660 men with an average age of 67. The study focused on the benefits of a Mediterranean diet and discovered several advantages to olive oil.
The research found that men who replaced all butter with olive oil while following a Mediterranean diet — which is rich in oils, legumes, nuts, unrefined carbs, fruits and vegetables, moderately high in fish and dairy, and low in red meat and processed foods — saw significant improvements in their sexual health.
"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," Julie Ward, a senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, told Express U.K.
The study's lead researcher, Dr. Christina Chrysohoou, told The Independent that "men that follow a Med diet — particularly consuming lots of olive oil — see their risk of impotence reduced by up to 40 per cent in older age."
For one thing, olive oil increases testosterone levels, which can help men get and maintain erections. It also keeps blood vessels healthy by promoting dilation of the arteries, which improves blood flow, an important part of male sexual arousal.
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"This is a drug-free solution that allows men to keep their sexual function. But also a long-term answer to protecting a man's ability to perform in the bedroom," Chrysohoou told Medical Daily. "Viagra does not improve something long-term, it can only give some short effect in order to have sexual capacity."
Adopting a Mediterranean diet is a good idea, Chrysohoou said, but even minor adjustments can help. "Small changes to your diet, for example add some olive oil instead of butter, [could also lower your risk]," she told Express U.K. "Having some nuts, fruit, vegetables, or some beans will also help."
According to a 2011 study, an estimated three million Canadian men over the age of 40 have experienced erectile dysfunction.
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