Olive oil may give a better boost than Viagra

Olive oil could be better than Viagra at helping men perform in the bedroom, scientists suggest.

A study of more than 600 men found that those who consumed plenty of olive oil had far fewer problems with their sexual performance.

Researchers said a diet rich in the oil keeps blood vessels healthy - maintaining circulation in every part of the body. Those who consumed at least nine tablespoons weekly were far less likely to suffer from impotence than those who had less of it, and had significantly higher levels of testosterone.

Strong adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet - rich in fruit and vegetables, legumes, fish and nuts, as well as olive oil - cut the risk of erectile dysfunction by up to 40 per cent, the Greek study found. Dr Christina Chrysohoou, the lead researcher from the University of Athens, said: "Long-term lifestyle habits on diet and exercise seem to have a major impact on not only our arteries but our quality of life, including sexual capacity from middle -age to [the] elderly population.

"Consuming olive oil and sticking to a Med diet keeps a man's bedroom chances high," she said.

On average, those who stuck most closely to the Med diet had testosterone levels around 40 per cent higher than those who ate less healthily, the study found. Researchers said the diet helped protect against obesity around the waist, which is linked to lower levels of the sex hormone.

"This diet keep your blood vessels healthy and lowers the risk of metabolic syndrome, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and central obesity," Dr Chrysohoou said. And olive oil had a specific effect on dilation of the aorta - helping blood flow.

"What we found here is that the Med diet has a positive effect on aortic dilatation. It keeps your blood vessels healthy and helps men maintain sexual function," she said.

Prof Mike Wyllie, one of the team of scientists who developed Viagra in the Nineties, said: "Unfortunately, we are in a society where people want to take a pill. They can't be bothered to change their lifestyle."

Julie Ward, of the British Heart Foundation, said: "It's no surprise that the Mediterranean diet - which we know is beneficial to heart and circulatory health - might also benefit blood vessels elsewhere, and help men maintain healthy sexual function."

The Daily Telegraph, London

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