1. Fruits and Vegetables: “Plant foods are packed with nutrients and low in fat,” says Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D., director of sports nutrition at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “As a result, they help keep the arteries unclogged and help prevent both heart disease and erectile dysfunction.”
2. Tomatoes: “Studies show that the tomato component lycopene, a member of the vitamin A family, helps maintain prostate health,” says Shari Lieberman, Ph.D., a nutrition scientist and exercise physiologist. Lycopene is best absorbed when tomatoes are cooked with a little oil, as in pasta sauce.
3. Nuts: They’re high in the amino acid arginine, which is crucial to the synthesis of nitric oxide, a compound in the body involved in generating erections. What’s more, “nut oils are nowhere near as harmful as saturated fat or trans fats,” Lieberman says. “In fact, recent studies show that nuts help reduce cholesterol.”
4. Pumpkin Seeds: “In addition to being a rich source of zinc, pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients, including the antioxidants selenium and vitamin E, which are good for the arteries,” Bonci says.
5. Olive Oil: Saturated fat and trans fats narrow the arteries, but monounsaturated fat, found in olive oil, helps keep them functioning well.
6. Wheat Germ: It’s difficult to get enough vitamin E from diet alone, but wheat germ is a particularly good source. “It helps keep the arteries healthy,” Lieberman says.
7. Oysters: This shellfish has a centuries-old folk reputation as a “virility food.” Scientists scoffed – until they discovered that oysters are also very rich in zinc, which is essential for men’s reproductive and sexual function. But if you eat them raw, be sure they’re fresh and from uncontaminated waters, or your evening of get-down could turn nasty.