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Does diet affect erectile function?

A man in a blue shirt sitting on a sofa and speaking to a health professional.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s the question you may have always wondered, but were too shy to ask!

June is Men’s Health Month, so let’s take a look at some of the research on this topic.

A study published in the Journal of the American Association Network Open journal suggests that a healthy dietary pattern may play a role in maintaining erectile function in men. Researchers from the University of California and Harvard University looked at the food and nutrient data from over 21,000 healthy men aged 40 to 75 who had no previous diagnosis of erectile dysfunction or diabetes or heart disease. The men were part of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. The researchers found that men at all ages who followed a Mediterranean-style diet had the lowest risk of erectile dysfunction. A Mediterranean-style diet focuses on fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and fish.

Fruits and vegetables contain special plant nutrients called flavonoids.  Researchers in Greece found that eating fruits and vegetables lowered the risk for erectile dysfunction by 32% in men aged 18 to 40 years.

Another study from researchers in Spain looked at 83 healthy men aged 18-35. For 14 weeks, these men were asked to follow their usual diet and were divided into 2 groups – one group also ate 60 grams (about ½ cup) of nuts a day such as walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts; the other group of men did not eat nuts. The study found that a healthy diet supplemented with mixed nuts may help to improve erectile and sexual desire.

Bottom line: Fruits, vegetables and nuts are the foundation of an overall healthy diet that can benefit not only your heart health but also your sexual health.

 

What are pink strawberries?

A cluster of pink strawberries with an overlay of Sue's headshot and the words "What are pink strawberries?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have you seen these little pink strawberries at Costco or your local grocery store?

They look like underripe strawberries, but they’re not. These little gems are actually pineberries – which is a fusion of the words “pineapple” and “strawberry” although there isn’t any pineapple in them. In fact, the pineberry belongs to the strawberry family and is a cross between the strawberries native to North America (Fragaria virginiana) and strawberries native to Chile (Fragaria chiloensis). Inside, the flesh is white. You may also see these cute little berries called pineberry strawberries or hula pineberries.

What do pineberries taste like?

Pineberries have a softer and creamier texture than a red strawberry. There are subtle aromas and flavours of pineapple (thus the name pineberry), pear and apricot.

What about nutrition?

Both pineberries and strawberries contain vitamin C, folate, fibre and potassium. Strawberries will have higher levels of “anthocyanins” – which are the healthy plant compounds that give strawberries their beautiful red colour. Since they’re more rare than red strawberries, pineberries tend to be more expensive.

How to eat pineberries?

Ripe pineberries will have a blush pink colour and bright red seeds. Eat pineberries the same way you would strawberries! Add them to your yogurt bowl, toss into a salad or add a handful to a snack board.

Will you try them? Have you tried them? Tell me what you think in the comments!

 

Is it OK to eat processed foods?

young adult reaching for a box of foods at a grocery store

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In short, the answer is YES! As a Registered Dietitian, I believe that all foods can be part of a healthy diet, in sensible amounts. But there are actually different categories of processed foods, and some are better choices than others. Let’s break it down.

When you hear the term “processed foods”, you may automatically think of foods that come in a box or package. There’s more to the term “processed foods” though. Scientists at the School of Public Health at the University of Sao Paulo in Brazil developed a classification system called NOVA (it’s not an acronym) that groups foods into 4 different categories depending on the extent of the processing:

Unprocessed or Minimally Processed Foods: 

Unprocessed foods have not undergone any changes whatsoever. Some examples are fresh fruit and veggies as well as plain unseasoned fish and meats. Minimally processed foods are essentially unprocessed foods that have been cleaned, dried, ground, pasteurized, fermented or frozen. No oils, fats, sugars, salt or other substances have been added to the original food. Dried fruit, frozen veggies, dried beans, dried herbs and ground spices are just a few examples of minimally processed foods. Both unprocessed and minimally processed foods should from the foundation of a healthy, balanced diet.

Processed Culinary Ingredients: 

These are oils, fats, salt and sugars. These ingredients have been extracted from whole foods using processes such as pressing, grinding, refining and crushing. Vegetable oils for example are made from crushed seeds, nuts and fruit. Table sugar and molasses are obtained from sugarcane or sugar beet. Maple syrup is extracted from maple trees, and sea salt is mined from sea water. 

Processed Foods:

These are unprocessed foods with added oils, fats, salt or sugars. Most processed foods have just 2 or 3 ingredients. Some examples are salted nuts, smoked fish, fruit packed in syrup, pickled veggies, and homemade / bakery-made bread. These foods can still be enjoyed as part of an overall healthy diet. 

Ultra-processed Foods:

Most ready-to-eat and ready-to-heat products would be considered as ultra-processed foods. These are foods that are made by a series of processes and have extra ingredients such as additives, colours, flavours, emulsifiers, thickeners. Some examples are cake mixes, packaged pasta dishes, frozen entrées, reconstituted meat products and seasoned packaged snacks. While these foods can be convenient, enjoy them occasionally and in sensible amounts.

 

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