Eating Italian food stops impotence: professor

There may be some truth in the stereotypical image of Italian men as “Latin lovers” after leading scientists concluded that a Mediterranean diet leads to a more satisfying sex life.

Eating Italian food stops impotence: professor
Couple photo: Shutterstock

At least, these were the conclusions of the 21st National Italian Congress of Andrology (men's health), which concluded on Monday in Naples.

“Followers of a Mediterranean diet have a lower risk of impotence,” said Giorgio Franco, President of the Italian Society of Andrology, according to La Stampa.

As if we needed another excuse to gorge ourselves on pizza margherita and spaghetti carbonara, Franco went on to declare that “following a strict Italian diet can solve sexual dysfunction.”

Italy has one on the lowest rates of erectile dysfunction in Europe – the condition affects just three million unfortunate men across the peninsula. Meanwhile, statistics from Britain paint a much floppier picture, with the National Health Service (NHS) estimating that the condition affects half of all men between 40 and 70.

“Good sex starts at the table,” added Franco. “Statistics show that Italian people eat well. Our obesity rate is one of the lowest in the developed world.”

The Mediterranean diet is based around simple fresh foods and low in fat. It is high in essential omega 3 fatty acids, which keep dangerous, LDL cholesterol levels in check, leaving you raring to go.

It would seem that low obesity rates go hand in hand with low impotence. In the UK, 27 percent of the population is obese, a condition which affects sexual health and satisfaction.

An all-Italian pill

But it's not only diet affecting Italians' love lives. Italian men experiencing erectile dysfunction have increasingly turned to drugs to combat the problem too. The pill of choice on the peninsula is “Avanafil”, a drug developed in Italy.

Sales of Avanafil have boomed since launching in Italy in 2012. Around 600,000 men are thought to have switched to the drug after being left dissatisfied with other alternatives on the market.

Carlo Bettocchi, professor of Urology at the University of Bari, told the conference that the success was down to its rapid action, which allowed couples to enjoy a more spontaneous sex life.

Mr Bettocchi did knowledge however, that the pills' success could be about keeping the Italian end up in more ways than one, “without forgetting the pride people have for an effective product made in Italy,” he added.


Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


Antipasto to amaro: What to expect from every step of an Italian dinner

Whether you're going out to dinner in Italy or have been invited to over to a friend or extended family member's home, here's what to expect from an Italian meal.

Antipasto to amaro: What to expect from every step of an Italian dinner

More humble and less fussy than French cuisine, Italy’s cucina povera (literally, ‘kitchen of the poor’) tradition employs minimal ingredients, prioritising fresh local produce over complex techniques.

But while it might not be as elaborate and formal as its Gallic counterpart, an Italian dinner is still traditionally a multi-course affair, often stretching over several leisurely hours and involving various stages.

If you’re invited into an Italian home for lunch or dinner, you’re likely to find it a fairly relaxed occasion that may include all or just some of the courses listed below – though you can expect it to be lengthy and copious.

As in many other countries, it’s polite in Italy to bring a bottle of wine or dessert to dinner in someone’s house; if in doubt, ask what your hosts would like.

Without further ado, here’s what you can expect from a full Italian dinner.


The antipasto (‘before-meal’) is the starter course.

Its remit is pretty broad, and might include anything from bruschetta to salad to a cheese or meat platter. If you’re in someone’s home, you might be served olives or savoury snacks such as taralli.

While you’ve probably heard of the tradition of the pre-dinner aperitivo drink and snack, this is separate from the dinner itself, and usually takes place in bars or cafes rather than in restaurants or homes.

READ ALSO: Reader question: What time do people eat dinner in Italy?

Primo piatto

A primo is a carb-based dish: almost always pasta, though it could also be risotto, gnocchi or polenta.

In line with the cucina povera, which describes the make-do cooking of poverty-stricken rural Italy in decades gone by, this dish serves to fill the diner up before moving on to a smaller (more expensive) protein course.

Because of this, while you might find small amounts of meat or fish in Italian primi in the form of guanciale in your carbonara or minced beef in your ragù sauce, you won’t be served large quantities of meat with your primo.

Polpette, or meatballs, are a separate second course, and you’ll never come across a chicken-based pasta dish in Italy.

READ ALSO: OPINION: Why do Italians get so angry if you mess with classic recipes?

Secondo piatto

The secondo is, as its name suggests, your second main dish – usually meat or fish, though most restaurants will offer at least one vegetarian option in the form of something like an aubergine parmigiana.

If you want to round it out, you can order one or more contorni – side plates of salad or vegetables.

Italian restaurants will provide both primo and secondo options, but these days most places won’t expect you to order both, and it’s fine for one person to order a primo and the other a secondo to arrive at the same time.


Once the secondo is over, it’s time for dessert.

The type of dolce you’re offered will likely vary depending on region, but the list commonly includes cantucci biscuits to be dipped in vin santo dessert wine, panna cotta, a crostata tart, and, of course, tiramisù.

If you’ve got a hankering for gelato, you’re probably best off heading out to one of the many gelaterie that populate the piazzas and streets Italian towns, where you’ll have access to a wide range of flavours.

READ ALSO: The must-try foods from every region of Italy


Next comes the caffè, which in Italy is an espresso – definitely not a cappuccino or caffè latte, which are strictly breakfast drinks, though you might get away with asking for a splash of milk and making yours a caffè macchiato.

It might seem unwise to consume caffeine at the end of the evening, but you can always order a caffè decaffeinato (usually shortened to deca), and its effects are at any rate tempered by what follows:


At the very end of the night, you’ll likely be offered a bitter amaro liqueur or some other spirit-based digestivo (some restaurants will bring these for free along with the bill).

This could also be a distilled liquor grappa, or if you’re further south, a sweet limoncello.

Taken straight after or along with your coffee, these after-dinner drinks are known in Italy as an ammazzacaffè – literally, a coffee-killer, for its dampening effect on the caffeine.

Congratulations, you’ve made it to the end of an Italian meal! Now you just have to roll yourself off your chair or sofa and make your way home, where you’ll spend a good portion of the following day digesting your meal.