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Fruit compounds may give men a real boost in the bedroom.

A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition linked a diet high in certain flavonoids, or fruit compounds, to a lower risk of erectile dysfunction. The study points to flavones, flavanones and anthocyanins eaten in foods like strawberries, blueberries and citrus fruits. These links are still being explored, but other new research associates flavonoids with cardiovascular health.

Watermelon is another fruit with potential when it comes to getting frisky. Watermelon contains the amino acid citrulline, which is used by the body to produce nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is a blood vessel dilator; when men were given the amino acids from watermelon for six weeks, their arteries functioned better and their blood pressure was down. Nitric oxide is also what Viagra uses to achieve, ahem, results. An Italian study found that citrulline improved erectile function significantly more than a placebo.

More research is needed before we fully understand which fruit compounds—and how much of them—may give men a real boost in the bedroom. Still, you can't go wrong by eating fresh fruits every day. They tend to be low in fat and high in fibre, and their natural sugars aren't likely to give us the blood glucose spikes of refined sugar. Plus we know they're an important source of essential nutrients. Watermelon, for instance, is high in vitamins A, B6 and C and the antioxidant lycopene. While you're improving your diet, you might want to up your exercise, too. Exercise boosts the blood circulation that's essential for what we might call a full salute. The flavonoid study noted that the men who were the most physically active along with eating flavonoid-rich foods were the least likely to report erectile dysfunction.

A version of this article appeared in the November 2016 issue with the headline, "Berry Good News For Erectile Dysfunction," p. 30.

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