If you’re struggling with erectile dysfunction, or not being able to get and stay hard during sex, your diet could have something to do with it. It turns out a crappy diet can do more than wreck your waistline—it can sink your erection, too.
Some of the smallest blood vessels and nerves in your body can be found in your penis. So if you’re slamming down junk like pizza and fries every day, your blood vessels down under may get clogged with fat and cholesterol.
This restricts blood flow to your penis, preventing you from getting hard when you’re ready for action and even putting your heart health at risk down the road. Many of these foods can increase your chances of developing high blood pressure, too.
It may sound wacky, but you should treat your penis like a luxury car. To keep your ride running smoothly, you need to fill it with the recommended fuel and keep up with the suggested maintenance. Well, your penis needs the same—like healthy foods and plenty of exercise—to keep it going strong, he says.
Filling up with the right foods can boost your testosterone, strengthen your sperm, and supercharge your erection. Even better, a good diet will keep your heart healthy. So, what do we recommend as premium fuel?
These 19 foods are a good place to start.
- Watermelon, Pumpkin, Cucumber
A 2011 study published in the journal Urology evaluated 24 men who took L-citrulline and placebo and rated the “hardness” of their erections. When the men took the supplement, erections were rated as harder than when they took the placebo. Foods that contain high levels of L-citrulline include watermelon, pumpkin, and cucumbers.
- Turkey, Chicken, Peanuts, Soybeans
A 2019 meta-analysis published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine concluded that arginine was useful to treat mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. Foods high in arginine include turkey, chicken, peanuts, and soybeans.
Keep in mind that a few watermelon slices or a handful of soybeans won’t magically transform your erection. Most of the supplements offered in these studies for erectile dysfunction included high concentrations of L-citrulline and arginine, so it’s unlikely that eating a few cucumbers or an entire watermelon will lead to a rock-hard erection.
- Spinach, Arugula, Celery
Foods that can increase nitric oxide include spinach, arugula, and celery.
Nitric Oxide is one of the key ingredients in developing a good erection. It increases blood flow to the genitals and is essential in maintaining an erection. Many of our currently available medical therapies focus on this.
- Salmon, Egg Yolks, Fortified Milk
Your D needs vitamin D, suggests one Austrian study—and the foods above are great sources of it.
After researchers had men take either 3,332 IU of vitamin D or a placebo per day for a year, they found that free testosterone levels—the powerhouse behind your sex drive—significantly increased in guys loading up with vitamin D.
Plus, insufficient D levels may also increase your risk for erectile dysfunction, Italian researchers found. When you don’t get enough vitamin D, you produce free radicals that decrease nitric oxide in your body, a compound that helps your blood vessels function, the researchers say.
Without it, your blood vessels can’t relax, hindering the flow of blood to your penis. That makes it difficult for you to get hard.
So how much D do you really need? That’s still up for debate.
- Pistachios, Almonds, Walnuts
Need a snack? Choose nuts, researchers from Turkey suggest. After 17 men with ED ate 100 grams of pistachios for three weeks, they all reported a significant improvement in their erectile function, ability to orgasm, libido, sexual satisfaction, and overall happiness in life.
As a bonus, they all had higher HDL, or “good,” cholesterol and lower LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, too.
Pistachios contain a high amount of an amino acid that boosts nitric oxide in your body, the researchers say. And like almonds, walnuts, and most other nuts, they’re a great source of healthy fats, which are good for your heart and therefore your penis.
- Legumes, Whole Grains, Olive Oil
The Mediterranean diet is good for your heart, it’s not exactly surprising that it may benefit your penis, too. Heart disease is actually one of the most common causes of ED. Once plaque starts to build up in your blood vessels, the ones in your penis are the first to get blocked up.