No, I’m not talking about oysters. Oysters do contain nutrients without which the body suffers, and some people feel they look like male genitalia. But when I see or smell the squishy buggers, I just want to gag—not exactly sexy. Aphrodisiac foods are fun to read about, and some provide modest benefits. And really, any food that gets you in the mood, I say enjoy it—as part of a balanced, healthy diet.
Here’s what I find exciting: A variety of nutritious foods actually promote positive sexual function and make way for sensual moods. From a scientific perspective, the following foods could do your body and sex life good.
Colorful fruits and veggies. “What’s good for the heart is good for the genitals,” says Lynn Edlen-Nezin, Ph.D., a clinical health psychologist and coauthor of Great Food, Great Sex: The Three Food Factors for Sexual Fitness. An antioxidant-rich diet guards against poor circulation (which keeps you-know-whats firm and strong) and cell damage that can nuke your sex drive. Edlen-Nezin suggests amping up your intake of colorful produce, including red bell peppers, spinach, broccoli, grapes, spinach, beets and berries, and aiming for variety.
Bananas. If anxiety or stress interferes with your bedroom life, eating a banana several hours before love-making might help. Bananas provide carbohydrates and the amino acid tryptophan—a combo that allows your brain to produce feel-good, calming chemicals. The potassium in bananas enhances muscle strength, which is vital for orgasm, says Lou Paget, author of The Great Lover Playbook. If the shape inspires you, BONUS.
Low-fat milk and yogurt. Low-fat milk and yogurt also provide carbohydrates and tryptophan. For antioxidant benefits, top yogurt with colorful fruit and a touch of honey for added energy, or throw it all in your blender for a healthy pre-sex smoothie. It takes about 30 minutes for your body to convert glucose from honey into energy, so time your honey-kissed treats accordingly.
Salmon and flaxseeds. Salmon and flaxseeds are top suppliers of omega-3 fatty acids, which promote positive circulation and dopamine production. Without enough omega-3s, the normal for most Americans, you’re likely to experience low moods, skin problems and a lack of natural lubrication. Most people need about two servings of cold-water fish, such as salmon, weekly or plant sources, like ground flaxseeds, daily to meet their omega-3 needs.
Sushi rolls, ginger and edamame. Sushi rolls provide healthy fats, energy-boosting carbohydrates and the staying power of protein. Rice is the one starch that does not stimulate gas during digestion; needless to say, gassiness isn’t a turn on and can cause physical and emotional discomfort. “Ginger is a natural blood thinner,” says Paget, “so it aids overall circulation, and edamame contains phytoestrogens, which help lubricate the vagina.”
Dark chocolate. A study published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association found that phenylethylamine, a compound in dark chocolate, releases sex-related endorphins and increases attraction between pairs. A Journal of Sexual Medicine study showed that consuming a cube of dark chocolate daily increases sexual desire and overall sexual function than non-chocolate eaters. Yum, yum and yum.
A glass of red wine. Boozing it up can hinder sexual performance, but the occasional glass of red wine provides valuable antioxidants without posing side effects. Research at Chicago’s Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation showed that kisses laced with alcohol are a turn-on for singles. Red wine also increases estrogen levels and improves circulation during sex, according to experts featured in Women’sHealth magazine.
Do certain foods or flavors rev your sexual engine? Which turn it off? Do any of these foods surprise you? I love hearing your thoughts.