By Eat This, Not That! Editors
There’s nothing sexier than feeling healthy and being at a happy weight, except, well, sex itself. Hormones and heart health (yes, really) are the two primary players in desire, sexual performance, satisfaction, and fertility. Sure, you could pop a pill to boost your testosterone or rev your libido, but these types of drugs can have some pretty scary side effects, ranging from drowsiness, nausea, and dizziness to heart disease and even death—so not worth the risk.
The good news is that you can boost your testosterone, improve blood flow to your nether regions, or get in the mood naturally, simply by altering your diet with these weight-loss-promoting foods. So grab a pen, jot down a grocery list of the testosterone- and circulation-boosting foods below, and get ready to have the best sex of your life.
Photo credit: Shutterstock
An apple a day may help keep the doctor away, but a recent Italian study suggests it can do much more than that! Researchers divided more than 700 female subjects into two groups: those that ate apples daily and those that didn’t. They found that those who regularly consumed the fruit—which is rich in the sex-boosting phytoestrogens, polyphenols, and antioxidants—had more enjoyable and pleasurable sex than those who didn’t.
2. Brazil nuts
Bikinis, models, nuts … Is there anything Brazilian that’s not sexy? Selenium is a trace mineral found in Brazil nuts that plays an important role in hormone health. You only need a tiny bit for healthy sperm, but a tiny deficiency can be catastrophic for reproductive health. In one study, men who had lower testosterone and were infertile also had significantly lower selenium levels than the fertile group. Supplementing with the mineral improved chances of successful conception by 56%!
Ginger—one of our go-to spices for fat loss—can improve your sex life with its antioxidant, antimicrobial, and anti-inflammatory properties. The spice has been shown to boost levels of testosterone and sperm viability in men.
4. Dark chocolate
A study of Italian women and their chocolate-eating habits found that women who regularly nibbled on cocoa wanted and enjoyed sex more than women who barely touched the stuff. This may be because chocolate increases both serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, making us happy and lowering our stress level—both “mood” boosters if you know what we mean. Another theory from the study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, is that cocoa increases blood flow through the arteries and relaxes blood vessels—sending blood to all the right regions.
5. Pomegranate juice
Rev up your sex life with a refreshing pomegranate juice spritzer. Studies have found that pomegranate juices, like POM Wonderful and PomeGreat, have positive effects on erectile dysfunction and testosterone. Pomegranates are also loaded with antioxidants that support blood flow, which can help boost sensitivity and pleasure. Just be sure to water your juice down a bit: One cup of the stuff has 31 grams of sugar, which won’t do your scantily clad bod any favors.
Oysters are full of zinc, and women with higher levels of zinc in their system have been shown to have a higher sex drive than those with lower levels. And guys can reap the benefits, too. One study showed that six-months of zinc supplementation among slightly zinc-deficient elderly men doubled serum levels of testosterone. Research has also shown deficiencies in zinc to be a risk factor for infertility caused by low testosterone levels. Get your shuck on at happy hour (and stick to one of these low-calorie cocktails to maintain your flat belly). Just a half dozen oysters on the half shell will provide you with 33 milligrams of zinc, nearly three times the 12-milligram RDA for adult men.
Watermelon has even more lycopene than tomatoes, and lycopene rivals Viagra in its ability to relax blood vessels and improve circulation to certain, ahem, areas of the body.
It turns out all those Starbucks daters may be onto something—coffee may just be the best libido booster around. It contains a stimulant that has been shown (in animal studies) to put females in the mood. Grab a cappuccino and brace yourself for a long, lucky night.
Eating spinach, a green rich in appetite-suppressing compounds, can not only give you a lingerie-ready figure but also put you in the mood by increasing blood flow below the belt. “Spinach is rich in magnesium, a mineral that decreases inflammation in blood vessels, increasing blood flow,” registered dietitian Cassie Bjork, RD, LD tells us. Although that may not sound sexy, you’re sure to enjoy the effects. “Increased blood flow drives blood to the extremities, which, like Viagra, can increase arousal and make sex more pleasurable,” says psychotherapist and sex expert Tammy Nelson, Ph.D. “Women will find it is easier to have an orgasm, and men will find that erections come more naturally. Having good sex is the best aphrodisiac.”
10. Red wine
Looking for a tasty way to boost your libido? Pour yourself a glass or two of red wine—but be sure to cut yourself off there. Women who drank one to two glasses of the stuff had a higher sexual desire and sexual function than those who didn’t down any vino, a Journal of Sexual Medicine study found. Unfortunately for you wine lovers out there, there was no additional benefit to drinking more than two glasses—which is the most health experts suggest we drink on a daily basis anyway. What makes the elixir so beneficial? It contains flavonoids that increase blood flow to key areas of the body (you know the ones).
11. Grass-fed beef
If your crazy-busy schedule is to blame for your lack of libido, you’re not alone. “One of the primary reasons couples stop having sex is because they’re tired, fatigued, and stressed. But sometimes, there’s a biological component at play,” says Nelson. One of the causes of fatigue in women is iron deficiency. The condition can zap energy, which may result in a low sex drive, explains Nelson. Bjork concurs, adding, “Iron deficiency is common and can result in feelings of exhaustion, weakness, and irritability, which doesn’t make anyone feel like getting intimate.” Bjork says remedying the situation requires a two-part approach: “If you think your diet lacks iron, focus on eating more spinach, grass-fed red meat and liver, all foods rich in the nutrient. Then, ensure sure your body is able to utilize the iron,” she says. “Consuming probiotic-rich yogurt, fatty fish, and an L-glutamine supplement can improve gut health and help your body to absorb iron more efficiently,” says Bjork.
Eggs often come up in reproductive health discussions. This time we’re talking about dietary eggs, as in omelets, and the role they play in boosting testosterone. That comes primarily from the yolks, which are rich in dietary cholesterol, plus mono- and saturated fats—nutrients once demonized by health experts that have since proven to positively influence waistlines and hormone health. In fact, studies on vegetarian and low-fat diets both show they reduce testosterone levels by around 12%. Higher-fat diets—in which fat is at least 40% of calorie intake, with greater consumption of saturated fat—show increased testosterone levels. Why? It’s not rocket science. Cholesterol makes up the building blocks from which testosterone is formed; without it, the hormone can’t synthesize. Organic eggs are one of the best dietary sources. In addition to essential fatty acids, a whole egg is rich in aspartic acid, an amino acid that triggers the production of testosterone
Whether they’re the white or the sweet variety, potatoes are a great source of potassium. This nutrient counteracts salt’s bloating effects and boosts circulation, which can help you look better in bed and also boost your bedroom pleasure. It’s a win-win!
14. Fatty fish
It’s no secret that oily coldwater fish like wild salmon, sardines, and tuna are overflowing with omega-3 fatty acids, but here’s something you may not know: The nutrient not only benefits your heart but also raises dopamine levels in the brain. This spike in dopamine improves circulation and blood flow, triggering arousal, Bjork and Nelson explain. There’s more: “Dopamine will make you feel more relaxed and connected to your partner, which makes sex more fun,” says Nelson.
15. Green Tea
Green tea is rich in compounds called catechins, which have been shown to blast away belly fat and speed the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy. But that’s not all: Catechins also boost desire by promoting blood flow to your nether regions. “Catechins kill off free radicals that damage and inflame blood vessels, increasing their ability to transport blood,” says Bjork. “Catechins also cause blood vessel cells to release nitric oxide, which increases the size of the blood vessels, leading to improved blood flow,” she says. Blood flow to the genitals = feeling of sexual excitement, so sipping the stuff will, well, make you want to get it on. Bjork suggests drinking four cups a day to feel the full effects.