Everyone’s heard anecdotally that oysters, chocolate, and strawberries boost the libido—but is that claim fact or fiction?
The appeal of being able to eat our way to a better sex life is undeniable. American women have distressingly high rates of sexual dysfunction, which get gradually worse as menopause hits. Research shows that more than 40 percent of premenopausal women have a less than ideal sex life with a new study revealing that sexual dysfunction jumps by nearly 30 percent during perimenopause.
Though the jury is still out on whether specific foods can improve your sex life, there is a lot of scientific evidence indicating that there is a connection between diet and libido. Research shows that eating healthy, nutritious whole foods is one of the keys to an active sex life.
While scientists haven’t proven that there is a direct correlation between an improved sex life and oyster consumption, there is some evidence that the following specific foods contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fats, and amino acids that may, indeed, spark passion between the sheets.
1. Fruits Like Avocado
Avocados have a long-held reputation as an aphrodisiac—it was the Aztecs who first identified the fruit as a libido booster. Maybe it’s the creamy texture or its sensual shape that makes avocados so tempting. Or it could be that the fruit’s high percentage of mono-saturated fats and vitamin B-6 give us the energy to keep going. Avocados are also rich in potassium and folic acid, which supports stamina and fertility.
This Kale Salad with Apples, Avocado & Grilled Maple Tempeh would make a great lunch and also includes other nutritious foods like kale and apple that may ramp up the sex drive.
2. Nuts Like Walnuts
Nuts like walnuts and seeds like sunflower and pumpkin are chock full of zinc and L-arginine to get you in the mood. A recent study has shown that regularly taking zinc mineral supplements increases testosterone levels and improves the frequency and potency of sex for both men and women. The amino acid L-arginine may help women have better orgasms and reach them more quickly by stimulating vaginal blood flow and smooth-muscle relaxation. One study showed that 60 percent of women increased their sex drive by taking L-arginine in conjunction with ginkgo, damiana, and other vitamins and minerals.
If you are a fan of burgers, try this scrumptious recipe for Walnut-Mushroom Burgers. Mushrooms also support cardiovascular health, which may also help with erectile dysfunction by encouraging better blood flow throughout the body.
3. Spices Like Cinnamon
Eating spices like cinnamon heat up your body, so it’s no surprise that they can also stimulate sexual desire. Like avocados, cinnamon has been long prized as an aphrodisiac ever since traders introduced the exotic Eastern spice to the West. In addition to short-term libido stimulation, cinnamon may also help balance blood sugar levels, as high blood sugar may cause erectile dysfunction and loss of libido.
Try this recipe for Breakfast Crêpes with Cinnamon-Orange Honey to help get your partner in the mood early in the day!
4. Roots Like Maca
Maca root has been cherished by Peruvians for its medicinal properties for ages. In addition to being highly nutritious (maca contains high levels of vitamin C, potassium, copper, and B-6), there is strong scientific evidence that the root legitimately boosts libido in both men in women. One study from 2010 found evidence that maca improves sexual desire after six weeks of consumption. Another study even claims it may improve semen quality!
As a sweet treat for your sweet, try this yummy recipe for Maca Brazil Truffles, which contains coconut, Brazil nuts, and Medjool dates.
5. Leafy Greens like Spinach
Spinach can trigger arousal and may render sex even more pleasurable because it is rich in the mineral magnesium, which can decrease inflammation in blood vessels and increase blood flow. This can stimulate orgasms in women and enable men to get an erection more easily and maintain it for longer. Spinach is also one of the highest sources of folic acid around, which studies show increases fertility and boosts libido.
This recipe for Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto contains a good amount of spinach and makes for a delicious dinner.
Originally published on Spirituality & Health magazine.