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From the Editor: Fruit and Vegetable January/February 2016


January 21, 2016
By Marg Land


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You have to hand it to the Brits. They definitely know how to make their male citizens eat blueberries and drink red wine – not that I would think it would be all that hard to convince them to do so.

According to a recent research paper released by the University of East Anglia and Harvard University, eating foods rich in certain flavonoids – such as those found in blueberries and red wine – can reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction in men.

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Published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the study examined several flavonoids and discovered flavonoids such as anthocyanins – found in blueberries, cherries, blackberries, black currants and radishes – plus flavanones and flavones – found in citrus fruit – had the greatest benefits in preventing erectile dysfunction.

“We examined six main types of commonly consumed flavonoids and found that three in particular – anthocyanins, flavanones and flavones – are beneficial,” said lead researcher, Professor Aedin Cassidy from the University of East Anglia’s Norwich Medical School. “Men who regularly consumed foods high in these flavonoids were 10 per cent less likely to suffer erectile dysfunction. In terms of quantity, we’re talking just a few portions a week.”

This was a long-term study involving collecting information as far back as 1986. Dietary information was also collected every four years. More than one-third of the 50,000 middle-aged men surveyed reported experiencing erectile dysfunction but those who ate foods rich in anthocyanins, flavanones and flavones were less likely to experience the condition. And those who consumed the beneficial flavonoid rich foods plus were physically active had the lowest risk.

“Men with erectile dysfunction are likely to be highly motivated to make healthier lifestyle choices, such as … eating the right foods,” said Dr. Eric Rimm, senior author of the study and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.

You think?

There’s a long-standing joke in my family that my marketing skills are so bad, I couldn’t sell blankets to people dying from hypothermia. But I think, armed with a few hundred printouts of this study, I might be able to sell my weight in blueberries, cherries and red wine. After all, according to the study, more than half of all middle-aged and older men are affected by erectile dysfunction.

Maybe this is what’s leading Canadians’ current interest in value-added blueberry products. Fruit and Vegetable Magazine did a roundup of some of the more exotic and innovative blueberry-based products on the Canadian market. You can see that article starting on page 10.

Readers can also check out the latest varieties of flavonoid-rich fruits and vegetables in the 2016 New Varieties showcase, starting on page 22.

Enjoy.