Why Take Viagra When You Can Drink Red Wine?

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A new study suggests that men who drink certain types of red wine are less likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction. 

To the growing list of health risks that red wine is said to reduce—diabetes and cardiovascular disease, among others—we can now add another: Erectile Dysfunction. In a joint study carried out by Harvard and the University of East Anglia and published yesterday by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, habitual intake of a subclass of flavonoids (plant-based compounds with antioxidant properties) has been linked to a reduced incidence of ED. One key flavonoid group to which researchers have attributed the benefit is the anthocyanins that give red wine its color.

The study included over 25,000 male participants, for which various flavonoid intakes were calculated from food-frequency questionnaires reported at regular intervals and dating from as far back as 1986. Researchers concluded that men under 70 with a diet rich in these compounds are less likely to develop or suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Anthocyanins are pigment compounds found in grape skins, which are imparted to the resulting wine during the process of maceration. Although present in fruits like blueberries, cherries, blackberries, and blackcurrants, red wines and grape juices have the highest concentration—which also lends them higher antioxidant properties, explaining the phenomenon known as the French Paradox.

That’s great news for any men out there fond of wine, particularly reds made from the grapes Petite Sirah, Tannat, Aglianico, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Pinot Noir, Grenache, Gamay, and Merlot wines have lower levels of anthocyanins but still contribute their positive effects, albeit to a lesser degree.

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