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Mediterranean Diet

Adopting a Mediterranean diet — with its abundance of fish, chicken, fruits, vegetables, and legumes — can help maintain normal ED, according to several studies. Doctors at the Harvard University School of Public Health noted that improved blood vessel tone may be one of the reasons why the Mediterranean diet appears to be them most protective against disease.

Freshly cooked fish (not deep fried) is especially good for blood vessels, and fish oil supplements may be as well. Bruce Holub, Ph.D., of McMaster University, Canada, has pointed out that eating fish — or taking fish oil capsules — relaxes blood vessels. Try to eat mostly small, oily fish rather than large ocean fish like swordfish and tuna. And choose wild over farmed whenever you possibly can.

Eating small amounts of healthy snacks appears to also help. Women with type 2 diabetes who ate 2 ounces of raw walnuts daily had significant improvements in their blood vessel tone, according to research reported in Diabetes Care (February 2010).

Finally, exercise can help those endothelial cells in your blood vessels as well. That shouldn't be a big surprise because physical activity lowers blood sugar, reduces the risk of heart disease, and improves most indicators of health. Remember, you don't have to join a fancy gym. You can increase your physical activity simply by walking, taking more stairs, dancing, and tackling some housework and yardwork you don't normally do.

Though scientific findings about diet and health keep changing, the best advice remains consistent: Eat whole, unprocessed foods, and at the very least, go for a brisk daily walk.


1. - Le Brocq M, Leslie SJ, Milliken P, et al. 2008. Endothelial dysfunction: from molecular mechanisms to measurement, clinical implications, and therapeutic opportunities. Antioxid Redox Signal 10:1631-1674.

2. - Whincup PH, Gilg JA, Donald AE, et al. 2005. Arterial distensibility in adolescents: the influence of adiposity, the metabolic syndrome, and class risk factors. Circulation 112:1789-1797.

3. - Plotnick GD, Corretti MC, Vogel RA. 1997. Effect of antioxidant vitamins on the transient impairment of endothelium-dependent brachial artery vasoactivity follow a single high-fat meal. JAMA 278:1682-1686.

4. - Rozanski A, Blumenthal JA, Kaplan J. 1999. Impact of psychological factors on the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease and implications for therapy. Circulation 99:2192-2217.

5. - Schalkwijk CG, Stehouwer, CD. 2005. Vascular complications in diabetes mellitus: the role of endothelial dysfunction. Clinical Science 109:143-159.

6. - Cuevas AM, Germain AM. 2004. Diet and endothelial function. Biol Res 37:225-230.

7. - Lopez-Garcia E, Hu FB. 2004. Nutrition and the endothelium. Curr Diab Rep 4:253-259.

8. - Davis N, Katz S, Wylie-Rosett J. 2007. The effect of diet on endothelial function. Cardiol Rev 15:62-66.

9. - Holub DJ, Holub BJ. 2004, Omega-3 fatty acids from fish oils and cardiovascular disease. Mol Cell Biochem 263:217-225.

10. - Stirban A, Nandrean S, Gotting C, et al. 2010. Effects of n-3 fatty acids on macro- and microvascular function in subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 91:808-813.

11. - Ma Y, Njike VY, Millet J, et al. 2010. Effects of walnut consumption on endothelial function in type 2 diabetic subjects: a randomized controlled crossover trial. Diabetes Care 33:227-232.

12. - Walther C, Gielen S, Hambrecht R. 2004. The effect of exercise training on endothelial function in cardiovascular disease in humans. Exerc Sport Sci Rev 32:129-134.


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Last Modified Date: July 01, 2013

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