By Dr. Margaret Flynn
Many of us have heard about prescription pills for erectile dysfunction (ED). But did you know that the foods you eat can also help (or hinder) your erections? So read on, if you'd like to find out how to naturally boost your erection quality.
Now you're probably tired of hearing nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management advice. But the reason we keep hearing about these fundamentals is that they are so connected to our physical and mental health. And your erection health is no different!
How can I get hard fast without pills?
For erections to occur, several systems in the body need to be functioning properly. Stimulus needs to incite sexual desire, nerves need to fire between the brain and pertinent body parts, and blood flow needs to be smooth and unobstructed. The right foods can help with each part of this process - read on to find out how!
It is important to state that experience of ED can vary widely. The following nutrition advice will likely be more effective for folks with mild to moderate ED. For those with severe or persistent ED, you’ll want to apply this in combination with other interventions.
What food and drinks can increase your erections?
Here are a few to add to your grocery list:
Think again before nixing that salad! Spinach is packed with folate which aids in blood flow. Studies show that ED is associated with low levels of folic acid in the blood (Karabakan et al., 2016) and folate deficits (Sansone et al., 2018).
Spinach is low-calorie and loaded with other vitamins and minerals. If a salad isn’t your speed, try loading up a smoothie with spinach (or other leafy greens), adding a handful to scrambled eggs, or sauteing it with chicken for dinner. You’ll barely notice it’s there, but your penis might.
Many fruits are rich in flavonoids including strawberries, blueberries, apples, pears, and citrus. One 10-year study of more than 25,000 men found that “higher habitual intake of specific flavonoid-rich foods is associated with reduced ED incidence” (Cassidy et al. 2016).
Berries are a great ingredient for your morning or workout smoothies! Apples are also low calorie while being a good source of fiber, making them filling and healthy for your heart.
Your mom was right – eat those fruits and veggies. One study of diabetic men found a 10% risk reduction of ED for each additional daily serving of fruit and vegetables consumed (Wang et al. 2013).*
This popular summer-time fruit was labeled by one researcher as a “natural Viagra” (Texas A&M University 2008). Watermelon is one of the richest natural sources of a non-essential amino acid called L-citrulline.
A study published in 2011 found that supplementation of oral L-citrulline increases blood flow to the penis thereby strengthening erections for men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction (Cormio et al. 2011).
Another study in 2017 explained that L-citrulline, either synthetic or in watermelon, may contribute to improvements in the L-arginine/nitric oxide pathway (Figueroa et al. 2017).
Viagra works in a similar manner; it effectively enhances the body’s natural nitric oxide-induced response which increases blood flow to the penis, i.e. a stronger erection. But Viagra isn't always helpful. You might want to look into some other options listed below.
Aside from the few studies linking specific foods to positive erectile function, there is good evidence for the role of a Mediterranean diet (MedDiet) in sexual health and ED in particular.
One review of existing literature found that a MedDiet including “high use of virgin olive oil, vegetables, fruits, moderate wine intake, whole grains, nuts, fibers, and fish was associated with lower risk and severity of ED, mainly in type 2 Diabetes” (Di Francesco and Tenaglia, 2017). Similarly, an earlier literature review found a MedDiet to be associated with an improvement in ED (Esposito et al, 2010).
What drinks help you get hard?
As far as beverages to help your erection, people will be happy to hear that coffee and red wine are on the list. In moderation, of course. There is evidence suggesting men who drink two to three cups of coffee a day are less likely to have ED (Lopez et al. 2015). This is due to the impacts of caffeine that result in penile blood flow through several mechanisms.
In moderation, red wine can also reduce ED. This beverage was included as a top 5 source of flavonoids in Cassidy et al. 2016 study that suggested higher habitual intake of certain flavonoids is associated with a lower incidence of ED.
In addition to increasing your intake of these foods and beverages, you should substitute these foods for things that are often culprits of ED (and conditions associated with ED). That means more of the foods listed above and less sugar, salt, red meat, saturated fat, and trans fat.
A healthy heart and blood vessels mean a healthier erection! As one research article put it, “Heart health is tantamount to erectile health” (Moyad et al., 2004).
What causes sudden erectile dysfunction?
The most common culprit that may interfere with your ability to achieve and maintain an erection is alcohol.
Numerous studies have demonstrated a significant relationship between alcohol consumption and erectile dysfunction (Dachille et al. 2008). Drinking alcohol can drum up desire in the short term, but erections often become short-term as well. Specifically, alcohol dilates and expands blood vessels in the penis (and throughout the body).
But if you are able to achieve an erection with a BAC, the blood vessels remain open due to the alcohol, and the blood drains out of the penis, taking the erection with it. Longer-term alcoholism can cause impaired testosterone production and other serious negative impacts on penises and sexual desire.
With this information, you can feel empowered to maintain or initiate habits that can contribute to stronger, more consistent erections. And making heart-healthy choices like these, the only side effects might be overall improvements in health and confidence.
Additionally, physical exercises (not the kind you do in the gym) can help. You can get started with at-home courses and exercises proven to help men get harder easier. Click this link to download the Lover App and start your 3-day Free Trial today.
Cassidy, A., Franz, M., & Rimm, E. B. (2016). Dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of erectile dysfunction. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 103(2), 534–541.
Cormio, L., De Siati, M., Lorusso, F., Selvaggio, O., Mirabella, L., Sanguedolce, F., & Carrieri, G. (2011). Oral L-citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction. Urology, 77(1), 119–122.
Dachille, G., Lamuraglia, M., Leone, M., Pagliarulo, A., Palasciano, G., Salerno, M. T., & Ludovico, G. M. (2008). Erectile dysfunction and alcohol intake. Urologia, 75(3), 170–176.
Di Francesco, S., & Tenaglia, R. L. (2017). Mediterranean diet and erectile dysfunction: a current perspective. Central European Journal of Urology, 70(2), 185–187.
Esposito, K., Giugliano, F., Maiorino, M. I., & Giugliano, D. (2010). Dietary factors, Mediterranean diet and erectile dysfunction. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 7(7), 2338–2345.
Figueroa, A., Wong, A., Jaime, S. J., & Gonzales, J. U. (2017). Influence of L-citrulline and watermelon supplementation on vascular function and exercise performance. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 20(1), 92–98.
Karabakan, M., Erkmen, A. E., Guzel, O., Aktas, B. K., Bozkurt, A., & Akdemir, S. (2016). Association between serum folic acid level and erectile dysfunction. Andrologia, 48(5), 532–535.
Lopez, D. S., Wang, R., Tsilidis, K. K., Zhu, H., Daniel, C. R., Sinha, A., & Canfield, S. (2015). Role of Caffeine Intake on Erectile Dysfunction in US Men: Results from NHANES 2001-2004. PloS one, 10(4), e0123547.
Moyad, M. A., Barada, J. H., Lue, T. F., Mulhall, J. P., Goldstein, I., Fawzy, A., & Sexual Medicine Society Nutraceutical Committee (2004). Prevention and treatment of erectile dysfunction using lifestyle changes and dietary supplements: what works and what is worthless, part I. The Urologic clinics of North America, 31(2), 249–257.
Sansone, M., Sansone, A., Romano, M., Seraceno, S., Di Luigi, L., & Romanelli, F. (2018). Folate: a possible role in erectile dysfunction?. The aging male: the official journal of the International Society for the Study of the Aging Male, 21(2), 116–120.
Texas A&M University. (2008, July 1). Watermelon May Have Viagra-effect. ScienceDaily.
Wang, F., Dai, S., Wang, M., & Morrison, H. (2013). Erectile dysfunction and fruit/vegetable consumption among diabetic Canadian men. Urology, 82(6), 1330–1335.