Firstly, it’s important to note that libido, or sexual desire, is different from sexual performance. Most of the research regarding foods and their effect on libido are not strongly supported. However, there is evidence that certain nutrients and foods help improve sexual performance.
So, what will affect your performance in the bedroom? The hormone testosterone. Testosterone boosts sexual desire in both genders and a healthy level of this hormone is only one way to control libido in men and women. Although you don’t get testosterone from food, it is true that foods contain micronutrients that affect the production of testosterone. Therefore, in order to boost libido, let’s look at foods that contain specific nutrients that optimise testosterone production, which will give your sex life a boost:
- Oysters – are a rich source of zinc, which heavily plays a role in producing and regulating testosterone. Additionally, low zinc levels have been associated with low androgens (male sex hormones), decreased testicular function, low physical performance & exercise capacity. Not a fan of oysters? It’s ok, shellfish, pumpkin seeds, cashews and peanuts are also high in zinc.
- Meats (lamb and grass-fed beef), eggs, dairy, nuts and beans – these protein-rich foods contain an amino acid called l-arginine, which serves as a building block of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide acts as a potent vasodilator, which helps relax arteries and can assist with better blood flow for optimal testosterone transport as well as erectile performance in men. Think of it as nature’s Viagra.
- Oily Fish (salmon, mackerel, sword fish, sardines) – Not only is oily fish high in protein (l-arginine) and heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids, it also helps boost dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, which are chemicals that are responsible for transmitting signals between nerve cells in the brain. Dopamine directly affects the reward and pleasure centres in the brain, which in turn affects mood and libido.
- Green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts) – these contain nitrogen, which is another important source of nitric oxide.
- Antioxidant-rich berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries) – these foods are high in vitamin C, which helps reduce free radical damage and in turn helps to keep your arteries clean and blood flowing freely to organs. Vitamin C has also been associated with an improved female libido.
- Dark chocolate – Dark chocolate is rich in flavanols, which have antioxidant properties and support healthy blood flow. Also, dark chocolate contains phenylethylamine, which is the same compound that is released during sex. This compound stimulates romantic emotions in the brain and may have aphrodisiac effects as a result.
- Spinach – Spinach is rich in the mineral magnesium, which helps to decrease inflammation in the blood vessels, increasing blood flow. Increased blood flow drives blood to the extremities, which, like Viagra, can increase arousal and make sex more pleasurable. Magnesium is also important for the production of sex hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone.
- Watermelon – Sometimes called “Nature’s Viagra”, watermelon contains high amounts of lycopene, citrulline and beta-carotene, which are potent phytochemicals that help relax blood vessels, increasing blood flow to the genitals allowing for better orgasms for women and stronger erections for men.
- Green tea – Green tea is rich in compounds called catechins, which may help boost metabolism as well as promoting blood flow around the body. Catechins kill off free radicals that damage inflame blood vessels, increasing their ability to transport blood. They also allow blood vessels to release nitric oxide, improving blood flow to the extremities even further.
- Avocado – Avocados are loaded with healthy monounsaturated fats, libido-boosting vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin E, all of which are important nutrients and antioxidants which promote oxygen transportation and blood flow.