A research project called Fertinuts seems to have found evidence that men who eat lots of nuts can boost their orgasms and sexual desire. But before you get too excited, some scepticism might be warranted.
The study, which again is called Fertinuts, was a randomised controlled trial of nearly 100 young, healthy men in Spain. Half the men were told to eat at least 60 grams of mixed raw nuts a day for 14 weeks, in addition to their typical Western-style diet, while the other half just stuck to their normal diet, avoiding nuts if they could. Before and after the study, the volunteers answered questions about their sex lives and had their blood screened for levels of nitric oxide (NO) and E-selectin, two naturally produced molecules. They used these levels as a proxy for the health of the blood vessels in the penis that make erection possible.
Between the two groups, there were no major differences in any of these characteristics before the study began. But afterwards, the team found, the nut-eating volunteers reported a significant increase in their “orgasmic function” and sexual desire on average.
“In conclusion, our study suggests that compliance with a healthy diet supplemented with mixed nuts may help to improve erectile and sexual desire,” the authors, whose work was published in the journal Nutrition, wrote.
The study does line up with earlier clinical research that found that eating 100 grams of pistachios a day for three weeks improved the erections of men with pre-existing erectile dysfunction. It also comes on the heels of an earlier study by the authors—based on the same sample of volunteers—that found nut-eating volunteers had improved sperm quality, quantity, and function.
But as is often the case with diet and nutrition research, there are a few important caveats to their findings. One is the fact that levels of (NO) and E-selectin didn’t change at all for either group. And since that was the team’s leading theory for how nuts could improve men’s erections, we’re left wondering how these effects happened.
Not knowing why thing A is linked to thing B doesn’t invalidate the connection between them, but it leaves room for more mundane explanations. Since the men knew they were eating nuts, for instance, maybe their self-reported boost in sexual prowess was actually a placebo effect, not a biological change to the body caused by nut consumption.
Most concerning is that the study itself was funded in part by Big Nut, aka the International Nut and Dried Fruit Council (INC), an industry group of more than 800 nut and dried fruit companies across the world. One of the researchers is actually an unpaid scientific advisor for the INC, according to listed conflicts of interests in the paper, while another had received research funding in the past from the nut industry.
Industry funding is a ubiquitous part of research, especially nutrition research. But while the results from these sorts of studies shouldn’t automatically be dismissed, they’re often much rosier or less critical than non-industry funded research. So again, this study is worth taking with a few grams of salted nuts.
Still, other work has suggested that the Mediterranean diet, typically rich in nuts, can help men and women with their sexual function, especially if their diet or blood circulation was poorer to begin with. And there is research showing the overall health benefits of including nuts in your diet. So even if gorging yourself silly on almonds won’t make you a sexual stallion, the stakes are low enough that you’re probably not doing any harm either.