(Article medically reviewed by Dr. Zac Hyde M.D)
Foods That Enhance Erections, Naturally
Our health is determined largely by what we put (or don’t put) into our bodies.
But in a world of fast food, chemical additives, and other nutritional barriers, it can be hard to eat right.
However, did you know that many medical conditions can be improved with simple dietary changes?
It’s true, and in this article, we’ll talk about specific foods to fight ED that you can start eating today to begin the process of improving your erections.
A Quick Primer on Erections
If your knowledge of ED comes from sitcoms and movies, you might associate it largely with old age. This isn’t untrue, of course, but it’s drastically oversimplifying a rather complex topic.
Like it or not, there are men in their 20s that have issues with ED. There are also men in their 70s that wake up with rock-hard morning wood every morning.
To put it simply: there’s no one cause of ED.
That’s why we spend a lot of time in these articles reminding you of what it takes for your body to produce an erection.
If you’ve read any of our other articles on the topic, these will seem familiar to you. However, it bears repeating for the people in the back.
- First things first, you need to be aroused! It goes without saying that you require some sort of mental and physical stimulation in order to pitch a tent. When you were young, it likely didn’t take more than an exposed bra strap to get you going. Nowadays, you need a little bit more.
- The next ingredient is blood. This is the mechanical element of an erection. It’s what floods into your flaccid penis, expanding the elastic chambers and tissues and causing them to harden. So if you’re blood isn’t flowing as well as it used to, ED could be in your very near future.
- Those chambers and tissues we talked about? They can’t expand if they become atrophied or damaged. That’s the next ingredient: healthy penile tissue. Unfortunately, as we get older and expose ourselves to more toxins and injuries, those tissues can lose their elasticity.
- Now we come to the lesser-known boner ingredient (but one that we’ll mention a lot in this article). I’m talking about Nitric Oxide. This is a “signaling molecule” that travels from your brain to your penis when you become aroused. It’s what tells your muscles to let blood in and – most importantly – not let it back out until the deed is done.
The Problem with Nitric Oxide
Here’s the thing with NO that most people don’t know. Our bodies can’t just manufacture it from NOthing (see what I did there?)
That means that we have to get the ingredients to make nitric oxide from our diets (more on this later). So, if you’re struggling with ED and you can’t lay the blame on blood flow, arousal, or tissue atrophy, increasing your nitric oxide intake is a great place to start.
You see, nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels leading into your penis, and it’s this relaxation that allows your vessels to vasodilate, i.e. open up and expand.
When everything is working right, the vessels relax as they should, blood flows freely, and erections come on automatically (and last until we’re done with them).
But since our bodies can’t conjure up nitric oxide out of thin air, it’s rather easy to become deficient in it.
In fact, most older men already suffer from low nitric oxide due to their body’s inability to process the gas as efficiently as before. And when you get partial NO levels, you get partial blood vessel dilation, and – unsurprisingly – partial erections.
The Solution is to Eat Foods That Increase Nitric Oxide
Before we get into what foods you should eat, we need to cover a little bit more science. Bare with me, because this is important too…
You see, your body uses two primary pathways to produce Nitric Oxide:
- The first is the classical eNOS pathway. This is where oxide is produced from the amino acid L-arginine via an enzyme called endothelial Nitric Oxide Synthase (eNOS). Unfortunately, the production of Nitric Oxide via the eNOS pathway declines rapidly as you age or when the endothelial lining in your arteries becomes damaged. This explains why most older men are deficient in NO.
- Luckily, your body can manufacture Nitric Oxide another way – one that operates independently of eNOS and L-arginine. This pathway uses the bacteria in your mouth to convert the nitrates found in certain foods into Nitric Oxide. The good news? This particular method is incredibly effective. So, logically, if you give your body enough NO-rich foods, you can positively affect your Nitric Oxide levels.
Just remember, even if you only eat foods on this list (which I don’t recommend), you won’t see any results if any of the other “boner ingredients” we discussed are inhibited.
Still, changing your diet for a few months and seeing what happens is a great way to start narrowing down what lies at the heart of your issue.
Foods to Fight ED
Beets rank at the very top of our list for good reasons. Beets are among the most nitrate-rich foods in existence, boasting up to twenty times more nitrate than most other nitrate-containing foods.
Scientists have caught on to this and are using beets in clinical trials to treat high blood pressure and other conditions caused by low NO levels.
When eaten regularly, beet root spikes NO levels rapidly and efficiently. You can either eat the beets sliced, juice them, or buy a concentrated powder made from extracted beet juice.
I use the powder myself because beets are messy, and I don’t really like the taste, but either option is fine as long as you keep up with it.
Now, I’m not saying to ignore the other items on this list, but there’s a reason why I’m spending so much time talking about beets. In my opinion, nothing else even comes close.
For that reason, I recommend you build your new NO-rich diet with beet root as a centerpiece.
In fact, you can even use it as a natural form of Viagra.
My strategy is to consume one serving of beet juice made from the powder 30-60 minutes before sexual activity to increase nitric oxide and strengthen erections. I also drink a serving every morning at breakfast and once again in the early evening.
(Update: I’ve since changed my opinion on raw beets. You can read about it here)
Foods to Fight ED – Kale
If you feel like you missed the boat on kale when it was in literally everything a few years ago, never fear. This bitter leafy veggie is still widely available.
As a bona fide superfood, it’s packed with dietary nitrates, magnesium, and potassium.
Chard is another bitter green that has some big-time benefits for men looking to boost their NO levels. Luckily, Chard isn’t quite as rough on the palate as kale, and it’s equally full of high-quality nitrates.
Get enough of this helpful green in your diet, and you can drastically improve your cardiovascular health while simultaneously putting the lead back in your pencil.
Eat Celery to Fight ED
If bitter greens like Chard and Kale aren’t your thing, this one should be much easier for you to stomach. I’m talking about good, old-fashioned celery.
In fact, celery has about 250 mg of nitrates per 100 grams, which is great news considering the rest is mostly water.
Since it has virtually no calories and is super easy to snack on, celery is a great way to give yourself a boost of NO every day.
Just make sure you’re eating it without the ranch and hot wings. Otherwise, you won’t get quite the same effect.
There are dozens of types of lettuces out there, including endless proprietary store blends, seasonal mixes, and more. And while they all contain nitrates, you might be surprised by which of these lettuce types boasts the highest levels.
Believe it or not, butter leaf lettuce provides you with about 200 mg of nitrates per 100 grams.
So as long as your not only eating iceberg (which, in its defense, has a fair amount of nitrates) any type of green will do your body (and your boner) good.
Foods to Fight ED – Grapes
So you’re looking to boost your nitrate levels, but you aren’t really a “salad guy.” It get it.
Maybe you could try picking up some tasty red grapes from your local supermarket instead? You see, grapes (and the red wine we make from them) are very rich in nitric oxide.
So do yourself a favor and pop a bag of grapes in your cart the next time you’re in the supermarket. I’ll give you bonus points if you go for the seeded variety, as these are typically more bitter and higher in antioxidants.
Eat Arugula & Spinach to Fight ED
Before the hipsters of the world had kale, they had arugula. Fortunately, this green is easy to find and makes a great addition to your daily salad.
It’s also among the most nitrate-rich foods in existence.
But if you really can’t stand the bitter flavor (they do call it “rocket” in Europe for a reason), you can always opt for mild old spinach.
Like Popeye taught us all those years ago, spinach is quite the health food. It just turns out that its enhancements are more useful in the bedroom than in a bar brawl. Now we know why Olive Oil is so loyal…
Blueberries & Strawberries
By now, you should be noticing a pattern. If it’s dark-colored and it’s a fruit or veggie, chances are it has a nice dose of nitric oxide waiting for you.
This is a good rule of thumb for antioxidants, which can also contribute to sexual health by reducing the penile tissue damage we discussed in the beginning of this article.
Some of the best NO providers out there are blueberries and strawberries. This is why I’m such a fan of smoothies. You add things like celery to maximize your nitric oxide consumption and add these two ingredients to sweeten the mixture up. You simply can’t beat it.
They might look a bit weird, but pomegranates are super good for your heart and general health. As you probably expected, a lot of this comes from their extremely high nitric oxide content.
In fact, multiple studies have been done on pomegranate’s ability to boost NO while also reducing oxidative stress in the cardiovascular system. It’s a win-win, and it’s a delicious one at that.
Juicing to Fight ED
A quick word on juicing.
There’s nothing wrong with juicing fruits and veggies. In fact, it’s a nice strategy for maximizing your vitamin and NO intake while minimizing your time spent in the kitchen.
Just remember, it’s important that you drink the juice right away, as nitrate levels will decline rapidly if you let it sit too long.
It’s also imperative that you hold the juice in your mouth for 10 seconds before swallowing.
It might sound strange, but if you remember our discussion above, you’re using your oral bacteria to extract the NO, not your internal system.
When you hold the juice in your mouth, you’re ensuring that bacteria has time to do its job. If you decide to stick to the old fashion way (i.e. chewing), make sure you’re doing so thoroughly for the same reason.
Oral Health and ED
As great as this solution is for people who suffer from NO deficiency, there is one thing that can throw a wrench into the whole strategy.
Because if you have poor bacterial makeup in your mouth, your ability to convert nitrates into nitric oxide will be severely limited.
So if you suffer from gum disease or have poor dental hygiene in general, no amount of beet juice is going to help.
Speaking of which, if you have a habit of using Listerine or any other antiseptic mouthwash that destroys oral bacteria, I’d suggest you drop the habit.
A recent study published in The Journal Free Radical Biology and Medicine found that using antiseptic mouthwash twice daily increases blood pressure and raises heart attack risk.
I happen to believe this is due to the destruction of all that beneficial oral bacteria that convert nitrates into Nitric Oxide, which regulates blood pressure and cardiovascular health in humans.
Foods To Fight ED – Conclusion:
Nitric Oxide is an extremely powerful vasodilator, but it has a very short half-life. That’s why it’s important that you consume nitrate-rich foods several times a day to keep your levels up.
Or conversely, you can also use nitric oxide supplements.
If you eat the foods on this list frequently, you’re already covered.
But if you don’t, you should up your intake to take advantage of this simple, side-effect-free method to enhance your erections.
The easiest way to achieve this is to consume beet juice powder or whole beet root several times throughout the day.
I also recommend consuming beets 30-60 minutes before sexual activity to ensure that you have plenty of Nitric Oxide when it’s time to pull out that erection.