Women’s nutrition before and during pregnancy are very important, and men’s nutrition for sexual and reproductive health are also important. More than 18 million men over 20 years of age suffer from erectile dysfunction. Men who have or are at risk for diabetes or heart disease may have a higher risk for erectile dysfunction.
Sperm count, hormone levels and other factors can also impact male fertility. Nutrition is important for male fertility and sexual health, and obesity can impair fertility.
Besides being a healthy weight, foods you eat may also help protect reproductive cells from damage caused by free radicals or promote the health of sexual organs.
Below are some foods that are healthy to eat and can have an advantage for men’s sexual health.
What makes oysters so special is that they are a rich source of zinc. Zinc has many roles on the body including DNA synthesis, cell division, immune health and plays a role in developing sexual organs in children. Getting enough zinc for men can also be important for sexual health.
A 3 ounce serving of oysters provides well over 100% DV of zinc and is one of the food sources for zinc. Getting enough zinc could help boost sperm quality and could benefit male infertility (1).
Cruciferous vegetables include vegetables that have sulfur containing glucosinolates. According to the National Cancer Institute (2), these glucosinolates are broken down further into different components in the body that have been shown to have anti-cancer benefits.
Cruciferous vegetables are known for having a strong odor or pungent flavor and include: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, kale, turnips, etc.
Eating more cruciferous vegetables can be beneficial for many reasons, as vegetables are high in many nutrients. There is some research (3) to suggest men who have the highest cruciferous vegetable intake have a lower risk for prostate cancer.
The nutrients in cruciferous vegetables may also help protect the cardiovascular system from damage by free radicals.
Having healthy blood flow to sexual organs is important, and cardiovascular disease is a top killer for men and women.
Therefore, eating foods that support healthy blood flow and lower risk for cardiovascular disease is important.
Like cruciferous vegetables, bananas have many heart healthy nutrients in them. Bananas are also a source of antioxidants, protecting cells from damage.
Bananas are high in potassium, which can be helpful for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Potassium is also necessary for nerve signaling, muscle contraction and regular heart rhythm.
Men who have poor blood flow may be more likely to have erectile dysfunction. Therefore, eating foods that promote healthy blood flow can be beneficial. The flavonoids in dark chocolate have been shown to help dilate blood vessels.
Scientists suggest there is another compound in dark chocolate called epicatechin that also promote blood vessels to dilate.
Keep in mind the cardiovascular benefits from chocolate are from dark chocolate which has more of the flavonoid content. Milk or white chocolate has higher sugar amounts and lower flavonoids.
A general recommendation is to have about one ounce of dark chocolate per day, preferably in place of other sweets. Eating dark chocolate in excess could lead to increased risk for obesity, which is contraindicated for male sexual health.
Like all fruits and vegetables, tomatoes are a rich source of antioxidants. In particular, tomatoes are a source of the antioxidant lycopene. Some research has shown an association between lycopene and protection from prostate cancer.
For example, a 2004 review article (5) concluded tomatoes products may play a role in prevention of prostate cancer. The effect was fairly modest and only seen in the highest intakes of tomato products.
Therefore, to get the most prostate protection from lycopene, eating a high amount of tomato products appears to be the best benefit. Lycopene is in raw tomatoes but also very high in tomato products like tomato sauce and paste.
Eating a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with lowering risk for some chronic diseases and can be helpful for weight maintenance.
A 2016 study (6) also found a higher intake of flavonoids, like anthocyanins, from foods is associated with reduced incidence of erectile dysfunction.
This study estimated about 35% of men suffer from erectile dysfunction, but the men who had the highest flavonoid intake had lower rates of erectile dysfunction.
Therefore, it appears fruits and vegetables have another health benefit for men’s sexual health in that they could protect against erectile dysfunction.
Many men suffer from erectile dysfunction or other problems with sexual health. The importance of a woman’s diet for sexual health is often discussed, but a man’s diet also plays an important role for sexual health.
In general, obesity can increase risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and it could also increase risk for fertility problems in men.
Therefore, being at a healthy weight is an important first step for overall health. Certain foods can also help promote men’s sexual health.
Oysters and other foods rich in zinc can be beneficial for sperm health and fertility.
Antioxidant sources like tomatoes, cruciferous vegetables and berries can help protect cells from damage from carcinogens and may especially be protective for prostate.
Increasing blood flow can be helpful for erectile dysfunction, and compounds in dark chocolate have been shown to dilate blood vessels. Dilating blood vessels can help increase blood flow and can be beneficial for blood pressure.