10 Foods That Increase Libido (and 3 That Kill It)
Both the berries and the seeds will transform your mindset when you're trying to get in the mood. "This phytochemical-rich food enhances both libido and sexual endurance," say Drs. Anna Maria and Brian Clement, authors of 7 Keys to Lifelong Sexual Vitality and directors of Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida. Consume some black raspberries or a tablespoon of seeds a few hours before getting busy.
Raw, sautéed, or cooked, toss this vegetable in with your salad or alongside your steak to increase your libido. "I suggest it here because of the high vitamin C content," says Keri Glassman, registered dietitian and author of The New You (and Improved) Diet. "Vitamin C aids in blood circulation to organs and has also been associated with an improved female libido." (Related: Low Libido? Here's How to Increase Sex Drive In Women)
This sex superfood is versatile when it comes to cooking: it can be brewed in hot apple cider, infused into your favorite dish, or added to a chai tea latte. Just make sure to share it with your guy, too. "In India, cloves have been used to treat male sexual dysfunction for centuries," says Glassman. Research published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine agrees, discovering that clove extracts produced an increase in the sexual activity of normal male rats. "Cloves are also used to rid bad breath, which can't hurt your kissing skills either," says Glassman, who also suggests using powdered cloves in Mexican food. Add a little cumin and cinnamon and you've got a tasty, multifaceted aphrodisiac.
Want to be completely irresistible the next time your partner sees you? There's a simple food solution: Figs. "They're considered excellent stimulants of fertility and enhance the secretion of pheromones," say Drs. Clement. Feast on the fruit before getting it on and find out for yourself.
Chocolate has the reputation of being the aphrodisiac of choice for those with a sweet tooth, but researchers at the University of Guelph in Canada found that this is most likely just a myth. Though ingredients like phenylethylamine in chocolate may boost serotonin and endorphin levels, there is no link between chocolate and improved sexual performance or arousal. So if you're really looking for a sweet libido-booster, stick to a slice of watermelon. Although it's 92 percent water, that remaining 8 percent of fruit is jam-packed with vital nutrients for sexual health. Researchers at the Texas A&M Fruit and Vegetable Improvement Center reported finding in 2008 that watermelon has ingredients that delivered Viagra-like effects to the human body's blood vessels and could even aid in increasing libido. "Watermelon contains a phytonutrient called citrulline, which the body converts to arginine, an amino acid that boosts nitric oxide levels in the body, which relax blood vessels in the same way a medicine like Viagra does," say Drs. Clement.
Poached, scrambled, fried, deviled. No matter how you make them, a couple of eggs will rev you up after a long day so you can go the distance in the dark. "Eggs are high in protein, which is a source of stamina, and they're also low in calories," Glassman says. "In addition, they're a good source for an amino acid L-arginine, which has been shown effective in treating types of heart ailments and erectile dysfunction. (Related: Healthy Egg Breakfast Recipes That'll Add Protein to Your Mornings)
Researchers at the University of Hawaii found that women who took a ginseng supplement showed a significant increase in libido in a month, and 68 percent also said their overall sex life improved dramatically. "Add ginseng into your diet or try one of the many ginseng teas available," Glassman says. "Just don't jump at the sight of ginseng, though. Many energy drinks that claim to have ginseng in them also contain chemicals and tons of sugar."
Though on the pricey side, this spice is a treat for your stomach and sex life. Researchers at the University of Guelph have found that saffron can improve sexual performance. To use, Glassman suggests soaking the threads in hot liquid for 15 minutes then adding to any grain like rice, quinoa, or barley—or use it in a soup or stew. (Related: Spice Blends That Add Flavor to Your Boring Meal Prep Lunches)
A small salad with oil and vinegar as dressing will might rev your sex drive. "Iceberg lettuce contains an opiate that helps to activate sex hormones," say Drs. Clement. Nosh on a bowl at dinner and you'll be ready to go by the time you turn in for the night.
"King Henry VII and the ancient Asians were astute when using ginger for medicinal purposes," say Drs. Clement. "In the 21st century, those of us who know about botanical-ceuticals know that ginger helps circulation temperature adjustment and mucoid detoxification (mucus-like residue that can coat your GI tract) and is also a libido enhancer." Whether raw, in supplement form, or added to your favorite recipe or drink, ginger also lends itself to defense against winter's hard cold and flu season, which is good because trying to get frisky with a runny nose never ends well.
Libido Killer: Oysters
Oysters have been dubbed as the king of libido boosters, but don't buy into all the hype. "Oysters are a well-known source of zinc, which plays a central role in the creation of hormones and clitoris sensitivity, but they are also a toxic food," Drs. Clement say. "Oysters and other shellfish can absorb the toxins and parasites in the ocean, which can often outweigh the benefits of zinc." Skip the seafood and chow down on spinach for a similar low-calorie, high-zinc option.
Libido Killer: Processed Baked Goods
Yet another reason to limit sugary treats: They might zap your sex drive. "Baked goods contain saturated trans fats that wreak havoc on human cells, including the immune system," say Drs. Clement. "They surround the cells, coagulating them so that vital food glucose can't be absorbed and remains in the blood, raising blood sugar and lowering libido. The fats also clog ventricles, reducing oxygen to sexual organs, and prevent the spleen from producing enough white blood cells, so eggs and sperm have difficulty multiplying." Yikes!
Libido Killer: Dairy
Ice cream and cream cheese addicts may want to switch to a lactose-free alternative once in a while. The Clements say that the lactic acid in dairy and oxygen-destroying elements can squash a libido at any level. But don't forget dairy's best benefit: Calcium. It's linked to cell and sexual health. When cells are healthy, they increase sensitivity for better circulation to genitalia, thus giving you more pleasure. Stock up on calcium-rich soymilk, leafy greens, sprouted beans, cabbage, broccoli, and wheatgrass juice.