Men eating pistachio nuts experienced a significant improvement in blood flow through the penis accompanied by significantly firmer erections in just three weeks, perhaps due to pistachios’ antioxidant, arginine, and phytosterol content.
Thanks to Ellen Reid, Maxim Fetissenko, PhD, and Laurie-Marie Pisciotta for their keynote help
Erectile dysfunction is a major cause of decreased quality of life in men - in fact, so much so that one early theory suggested that this may explain the link between impotence and heart attacks. Depression is a risk factor for coronary heart disease, and the thought was that men who couldn't get it up become so depressed that they like die of a broken heart.
But now we know that erectile dysfunction and heart disease can be two different manifestations of the exact same root problem, diseased arteries—inflamed, oxidized, cholesterol-clogged blood vessels. So it’s no wonder that a diet chock-full of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, cholesterol-lowering plant foods would improve sexual functioning in both men and women, as well as reduce the risk of heart disease. And a totally plant-based diet can even stop and reverse our number one killer.
Of all the plant foods individually examined so far, nuts appear most tied to longevity. Just two handfuls a week may extend a woman's life as much as jogging 4 hours a week. So, if nuts reduce the risk of heart disease, might they also help with sexual dysfunction?
Men eating 3 to 4 handfuls of pistachios a day for just 3 weeks experienced a significant improvement in blood flow through the penis accompanied by significantly firmer erections. This is not surprising. Remember how antioxidant-rich foods have a Viagra-like effect of boosting nitric oxide production? Well, pistachios are certainly rich sources of antioxidants. And remember how the citruline in watermelons helped with erection firmness by boosting arginine, which is what our body makes nitric oxide out of? Well, pistachios have a bunch of arginine, which may help explain the improvement in blood flow.
And we know that cholesterol is an important predictor of sexual dysfunction in both men and women, and after just three weeks on all those pistachios there were significant improvements in cholesterol. And like other studies that piled on hundreds of calories of nuts a day there was no weight gain. Conclusion: "Just three weeks of pistachios resulted in a significant improvement in erectile function with additional improvement in cholesterol without any side effects.”
Note the two important differences between diet and drugs. Just taking drugs like Viagra, to poison this enzyme and artificially boost nitric oxide signaling, just covers up the symptoms of the underlying problem, unhealthy arteries. Whereas eating whole healthy plant foods like nuts actually helps attack the root cause—cholesterol, oxidation, and inflammation—and only has good side effects,
The enzyme that Viagra-like drugs muck with is found primarily in two places in the body: the erectile tissue of the penis and the retina of the eye. That's why the FDA encourages people “to stop taking drugs like viagra, and call a doctor right away if you experience sudden loss of vision” (assuming you can still find your phone).
Though the harms tend to be self-limited and reversible, such as cyanopsia in which everything in your vision suddenly becomes tinted blue, why risk side-effects at all, when the problem can reversed and cured in the first place, improving the quality and quantity of our lives. Improvement of sexual function in men should be added to the growing list of clinical benefits brought about by healthy lifestyles in human beings.
To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by Ariel Levitsky.
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This is the final installment of 3-part video series on sexual health. If you missed the first two, check out Survival of the Firmest: Erectile Dysfunction and Death and 50 Shades of Greens.
The watermelon effect via citrulline is documented in Watermelon as Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction and the jogging statistic, taken from the Harvard Nurses Health Study, can be found at What Women Should Eat to Live Longer.
The absence of weight gain is, surprisingly, par for the course when it comes to studies on nuts. See Nuts and Obesity: The Weight of Evidence. This may be for a number of reasons (see Solving the Mystery of the Missing Calories), including the "pistachio principle" (Testing the Pistachio Principle).
In addition to improving penile blood flow, nuts may also help prevent breast cancer (Tree Nuts or Peanuts for Breast Cancer Prevention?), inflammatory diseases (Fighting Inflammation in a Nut Shell), and sudden death (How Do Nuts Prevent Sudden Cardiac Death?).
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