Men taking part in a clinical trial who added two handfuls of nuts a day to their regular diet reported sexual function improvements.
The 14-week study compared a group of men who applied to a Western-style diet a daily dose of certain nuts with an equal group of men who eat the same diet but without nuts.
The daily dose of nuts consisted of 60 grams (g) of almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts— the equivalent of about two handfuls.
The researchers, who come from Spain’s research centres, say this is the first study to show that eating nuts can support sexual function.
In a paper published in the journal Nutrients, they report their findings.
A 2018 review of the trial data had already confirmed that the routine use of these nuts tended to improve the quality of the semen.
The recent analysis uses the same trial data but focuses on the impact on sexual and erectile function of nut intake.
Project Results suggest that adding nuts to a Western-style diet can improve the quality of orgasm and sexual desire.
For evaluating changes in erectile function, the researchers used two data sources: participant responses to questionnaires and biomarkers in blood samples.
Erectile dysfunction and risk factors
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the failure to get an erection and hold it long enough to have sexual intercourse which is satisfactory. The disease has a greater chance of affecting older men than younger men.
ED is widespread in the United States, where it affects about 30 million people, according to the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, which is one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The authors note that the results on primary prevention are largely preliminary, although there has been improvement in ED study.
Smoking, insufficient physical activity, stress, consuming too much alcohol, carrying too much weight and having an unhealthy diet are factors that can increase the risk for ED.
Such factors can affect erectile function through its effects on blood vessel and nerve biology. An adequate blood supply is needed for getting and maintaining an erection.
An erection is based on a complex interaction between the blood vessels and nerve cells. The process also involves the presence of nitric oxide (NO), a compound which helps to produce muscle tissue in the penis and to relieve an erection.
The effect of diet
Several studies have linked the Mediterranean diet to a reduced risk of ED and sexual dysfunction, as well as diets that share some of its features.
These studies have related these diets to endothelial function improvements. The endothelium in blood vessel walls helps maintain an equilibrium between dilation and contraction. The authors highlight research findings suggesting endothelial function can benefit from eating nuts.
I also refer to a recent study that showed that eating pistachios could improve the function of erectiles. We say this might be because, like other nuts, pistachios contain “several antioxidants and arginine, a precursor to[ NO], a potent compound that enhances vasodilatation.”
The new study data came from 83 healthy males between the ages of 18 and 35. All men followed a Western-style diet that is low in fruits and vegetables and high in animal fats, unlike the Mediterranean diet.
The researchers randomly assigned to the nut-enriched group 43 of the men and to the control group the remaining 40. All groups practiced their diet in Western style. Nevertheless, those in the nut-enriched group also ate 60 g of mixed nuts a day, while members of the control group did not add nuts to their diet.
Self-report and biomarker measures
At both the start and the end of the 14-week experiment, the participants filled out a standard questionnaire about erectile and sexual function. In those days, they even gave samples of blood and sperm. In the tests, the researchers measured the NO levels and the E-selectin molecule as “surrogated indicators of erectile endothelial function.”
Compared to those in the control group, participants who added nuts to their diet showed significant increases in two erectile and sexual functional measures: orgasmic function and sexual desire.
There were however no significant differences between the two groups in how much the ratings on erectile function, intercourse satisfaction, and overall satisfaction had improved by the end of the study.
Furthermore, the levels before and after of the two erectile endothelial function markers— NO and E-selectin — did not differ significantly between the two groups.
In conclusion the authors conclude:
“Including nuts significantly improved self-reported orgasmic function and sexual desire in a regular diet.”
They call for further, large-scale studies to confirm their findings and discover the mechanisms which explain why eating nuts could benefit sexual function.
A grant from the International Council for Nut and Dried Fruit has helped finance the research.