Anyone watching television ads would believe that the two greatest health problems plaguing Americans are high cholesterol and erectile dysfunction. Browsing the journals last week I found good news for both these maladies.
I’ll start with a defense of eggs and high cholesterol. Even though the most recent dietary guidelines stated that cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern, egg yolks continue to strike fear in the heart of the cholesterol conscious. An article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported on a study of 1,032 Finnish men ages 42-60. In this group, 32 percent had a genetic marker, ApoE4, which signifies the strongest genetic factor to affect blood lipids. As this was a long-term Finnish study, the follow-up lasted 20.8 years.
There was no significant association between moderate egg or cholesterol intake and coronary heart disease in the entire study population and in subjects with the ApoE4 marker. These authors described moderate intake as one egg a day.
Could it be time to replace the Viagra with a hearty serving of vegetables and fruits? This study, reported in the same journal, analyzed data from 25,000 men who participated in the Health Professional Follow-up Study. During a 10-year follow-up, 35.6 percent of the men reported ED.
But men in the group with the highest intake of plant flavanones, flavanols and anthocyanins had a 9 to 11 percent reduced incidence of erectile dysfunction. Other benefits of these foods is inhibition of LDL oxidation and anti-inflammatory benefits. The main phytonutrient support in this study came from blueberries, strawberries, apples, oranges, tea and onions. Fruit salad for lunch might not be such a girly thing after all.
Sheah Rarback is a registered dietitian on the faculty of the University of Miami Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. Follow her on Twitter @sheahrarback.