Countless supplements and drugs claim to hold the key to sexual satisfaction and performance, but a new study out of Spain is suggesting that the answer may have been under our noses all along: nuts.
The 14-week trial compared a group of men who added a daily dose of certain nuts to a Western-style diet with an equivalent group of men who ate the same diet but without nuts. The daily dose of nuts comprised 60 grams, the equivalent of about two handfuls of almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts.
Lifestyle risk factors for erectile and sexual function include smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, lack of physical activity, psychological stress, and adherence to unhealthy diets. A study found that men who added nuts to their diet saw improved sexual desire and quality of orgasms after 14 weeks. Unfortunately, this was a very small uncontrolled study, so further research is definitely needed, but nuts have been shown to have many benefits when added to a healthful diet.
Nutritional benefits of nuts
Nuts are nutrient-dense foods with a special nutrient content. A key component of several healthy dietary patterns and recommendations, consumption of nuts is associated with improvements in some cardiovascular disease risk factors. Specifically, hazelnuts, almonds, and walnuts contain high amounts of vegetable protein and fat (mainly unsaturated fatty acids), are dense in antioxidants and vitamins (e.g., folic acid, niacin, tocopherols, and vitamin B6, among others) and minerals (e.g., calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium), and are also rich in dietary fiber and many other bioactive constituents. Emerging evidence suggests that dietary fats may influence semen quality and testicular function.
A 2018 analysis of the trial data had already reported that daily consumption of these nuts appeared to improve sperm quality. The recent analysis uses the same trial data but focuses on the effect of nut consumption on sexual and erectile function. The findings suggest that adding nuts to a Western-style diet can improve orgasm quality and sexual desire.
Some studies have linked the Mediterranean diet, as well as diets that share some of its features, to a lower risk of ED and sexual dysfunction. These studies have also linked such diets to improvements in endothelial function. The endothelium in the walls of blood vessels helps maintain a balance between dilation and contraction. The authors highlight research findings that suggest that eating nuts can benefit endothelial function.
They also refer to a recent study, which showed that eating pistachios can improve erectile function. They suggest that this could be because pistachios, like other nuts, contain “several antioxidants and arginine, a powerful compound that increases vasodilatation.”
The data for the new study came from 83 healthy males aged between 18 and 35. All of the men were following a Western-style diet which, in contrast to the Mediterranean diet, is low in fruits and vegetables and high in animal fats.
The researchers randomly assigned 43 of the men to the nut-enriched group and the remaining 40 to the control group. Both groups continued with their Western-style diet. However, those in the nut-enriched group also consumed 60g a day of mixed nuts while the control group members did not supplement their diet with nuts.
The findings, though from a very limited number of men, are promising and could lead to other research in the area. According to the researchers, “including nuts in a regular diet significantly improved auto-reported orgasmic function and sexual desire.” These results seem to suggest that including nuts in one’s diet can improve sexual intensity and desire. They do, however, call for further large-scale studies to confirm their findings and to discover the mechanisms that explain why eating nuts might benefit sexual function.
Compared with those in the control group, the participants who added nuts to their diet showed significant increases in two measures of erectile and sexual function: orgasmic function and sexual desire. The above-mentioned study suggests that compliance with a healthy diet supplemented with mixed nuts may help to improve erectile and sexual desire.
This was a small, uncontrolled study, so it lacks the strong evidence that may be found in future larger studies to confirm these results. But you might want to grab that handful of nuts as a snack instead of a candy bar or potato chips. You can thank us later.
- Harvard Health: Eating more nuts may improve sexual function
- Fatty acid intake in relation to reproductive hormones and testicular volume among young healthy men
- Role of disturbed fatty acids metabolism in the pathophysiology of diabetic erectile dysfunction
- Effect of Nut Consumption on Erectile and Sexual Function in Healthy Males: A Secondary Outcome Analysis of the FERTINUTS Randomized Controlled Trial
Steven N. Gange, MD
Founding Medical Partner
Dr. Gange is a board certified urologist and Director of Education at Summit Urology Group. Dr. Gange is a Founding Medical Partner and Medical Director of the Men's Health Channel at Doctorpedia.