John La Puma, MD

My patient Jill is carrying 40 pounds she didn't have 20 years ago. She had told herself she was going to lose it when she retired, but somehow she never found the time.

Jill is also newly remarried, and her new younger husband wants to have sex all the time. It is killing her, and isn't satisfying him.

"Is there anything I can do to keep up other than take hormones, doc?" she asks me when I see her in my office. "Those things scare me. Do you have a diet that can help?"

Note that it wasn't her low HDL (healthy) cholesterol or high blood pressure or 44-inch waist or 219 pounds that Jill was worried about. It was her sex life.

Jill isn't the first one who thinks food and sexual performance go together. She's just one of the easier ones to help.

Why? Because the Mediterranean Diet is made for people with what she's got: metabolic syndrome. Her belly fat is lowering her testosterone levels, not to mention squeezing her kidneys and poisoning her liver. Too much belly fat makes her hold on to the fat she has already stored, and wears her out.

Satisfying, insulin-sensitizing, totally crave-able Mediterranean meals that help her lose weight while not sacrificing flavor is what she needs.

With barely 3 grams of saturated fat, my Spaghetti with Toasty Walnuts and Flax is just the ticket for Jill. Its flax meal and eggs are rich omega-3 fatty acid, which helps fight the body's inflammation, improving blood flow. The recipe's whole grains lower insulin resistance, unlike white pasta, crackers and most bread.

Plus, its walnuts can protect the arteries from constricting, especially after a fatty meal, especially during exertion. The research study proving this, by the way, was done with salami and cheese on white bread. But walnuts eaten at the right time help protect your arteries from being slammed into concrete pipes by drive-through fast food too.

After all, you get energy by keeping your arteries open and flexible. I suggested to Jill that she take eight walnuts with any high saturated-fat meal she might have to eat, just to keep her options open and, well, flexible.

I also pointed her in the direction of beans, legumes and seeds, especially kidney beans, peanuts and sunflower seeds, which are rich in arginine. This amino acid allows blood vessels to widen and increase blood flow to the sexual organs.

Jill also began a simple treadmill walking regimen, for aerobic conditioning and weight loss. After 12 weeks, she found a 5k to walk with a friend. With phone calls every week to me, and after losing 16 pounds, she was an unqualified success.

"Doc, I just want to thank you. I really didn't know whether to believe you about the walnuts helping my sex life. But something sure did!"

Spaghetti with Toasty Walnuts and Flax

Servings: 4

Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Calories: 330 per serving


4 ounces multigrain thin spaghetti, broken in half

2 teaspoons extra light olive oil, divided

3 large omega-3 enriched eggs

2 large omega-3 enriched egg whites

1/4 teaspoon each salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 (6-ounce) bag baby spinach

2 tablespoons ground flax meal, such as Bob's Red Mill brand

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmesan cheese, preferably Parmigiano-Reggiano

1 cup bottled spicy tomato basil pasta sauce, heated

1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Heat oven to 350 F. Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain well; transfer to a medium bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon of the olive oil. Refrigerate 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine whole eggs, egg whites, salt and pepper, beating with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick oven-proof skillet. Add garlic; saute over medium-high heat 1 minute. Add spinach; cook, turning with tongs 1 minute or until spinach is wilted. Remove pan from heat; let stand 2 minutes. Add spaghetti to egg mixture; mix well. Add spinach mixture to the bowl; mix well. Return mixture to same skillet; top with flax meal, nuts and cheese. Bake 20 minutes or until eggs are set and cheese is melted. Cut into wedges; serve with pasta sauce and garnish with basil.

Nutritional Analysis

Total fat (g): 10; Trans fatty acids (g): 0; Saturated fat (g): 3; Polyunsaturated fat (g): 4; Monounsaturated fat (g): 3; Fiber (g): 7; Carbohydrates (g): 33; Sugar (g): 5; Protein (g): 19; Sodium (mg): 501; Calcium (mg) 174.

John La Puma, M.D. is the "food as medicine doc."

Available at

Calm Energy: How People Regulate Mood with Food and Exercise


Copyright © John La Puma, MD






Health & Nutrition - Omega-3 Rich Diet