By now, you know that food affects every vital organ in your body—and yes, that includes your lady parts. Honestly, the vagina doesn't need much to keep clean (despite what the feminine wash commercials say). But noshing on the right foods can minimize funky smells, fight infections, and help you when you're feeling "not so fresh down there." That's why we've rounded up the best foods with key ingredients to keep things feeling healthy down south. And ladies, don't forget to check out these 30 Healthy Foods for Women.
"There's are a naturally acidic PH in [your vagina]," says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, owner of betterthandieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It." "Some of the most helpful foods are those that also have good bacteria." Which is exactly why Greek yogurt tops the list for best lady foods. Probiotics are good bacteria that live in your intestines and play an essential role in everything from mood and weight maintenance to balancing our immune system. And they're particularly important for women's vaginal health! It helps balance out your vagina's PH levels to keep things fresh down there.
A study in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology found that women who took a cranberry juice pill equivalent to two 8-ounce servings of cranberry juice for six weeks after gynecological surgery reduced the rate of UTI occurrence by half. Here's why: Two ingredients in cranberries—fructose and A-type proanthocyanidins (PAC)—may help prevent UTIs by either selecting against more adhesive strains in the stool or by directly preventing bacteria (and E. coli in particular) from adhering to the bladder wall. However, if you're going to drink cranberry juice, be mindful of your sugar intake because that can increase your vagina's PH levels and make you more prone to yeast infections. It's yet another reason to stop eating so much sugar!
Normally, sweet stuff doesn't pack a nutritional punch. But then again, not everything is a sweet potato. Sweet potatoes are high in vitamin A, which helps strengthen muscle tissues for strong, healthy vaginal walls, according to Bjork and Taub-Dix.
Kimchi, another probiotic, helps maintain your vagina's PH levels to slightly acidic, says Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life. Another plus to probiotics? They help ward off bad bacteria as well, keeping infections down there at bay. Also, did you know about these 14 Yogurt-Free Products with Probiotics?
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Foods with omega-3 fatty acids (such as fish) promote heart health and circulation around the body. Why is that important for the vagina? It keeps the blood flow pumping down there, which is a major boost for your sex drive, says Taub-Dix.
But that's not the only thing that beneficial to your lady-parts. A 2010 study found that women who consumed a diet rich of this omega-3s were 22 percent less likely to develop endometriosis than those who didn't.
"Spinach is rich in magnesium, a mineral that decreases inflammation in blood vessels and increases blood flow," explains Bjork. "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." So, basically, you and your S.O. should have a spinach salad tonight.
Broccoli may not be the hottest veggie on the block, but this study may change your mind. A study from 2007 found that women who ate foods rich in flavonoid kaempferol––like broccoli––saw their risk for ovarian cancer reduced by a whopping 40 percent. Here are 7 Foods That Fight Cancer.
They're more for just dipping ranch! In the same study, researchers found that women who consumed flavonoid luteolin (found in carrots, cabbages, and peppers) saw a 34 percent reduced risk of ovarian cancer. All I gotta say is pass the veggies, please!
This shouldn't come as a surprise to you, but guzzling down H2O is probably one of the best things you can do to your hoo-ha. "Hydration is key for overall health, but also for proper functioning of the vagina which has its own self-cleaning system," says Diana Hoppe, MD. "Adequate water intake will increase lubrication, allow secretions to be released and proper PH balance of vaginal tissues."
According to Hoppe, foods high in vitamin C such as strawberries, bell peppers, and citrus fruits are important for upping your immune system and fighting infections down south. In a study from 2013, women who consumed a vaginal tablet of ascorbic acid after getting treated for bacterial vaginosis reduced their risk of getting the infection again.
If you're feeling a little dry before sex, try snacking on flax seeds. Flax contains a rich source of phytoestrogens that help increase your estrogen levels and lubricates the vagina, says Bjork.
Bananas are one of the top sources of potassium, which helps to counteract the effects of foods high in sodium. Salty foods can not only diminish blood flood to the genitals (which can make it more difficult to reach orgasm), but sodium can also make you bloated. Not sexy. So, while we're on the subject, here are 21 Reasons to Eat More Bananas.
We're not telling you to consume it in raw form (unless that's your thing), but adding garlic to your meals it can provide much TLC to your vagina. Thanks to its anti-microbial properties, garlic can help fight yeast infections, Hoppe reports.
There's a reason why people go nuts for nuts! It's because they're health benefits don't lie. Nuts like almonds and peanuts contain a rich source of Vitamin E, which for your lady parts mean strong vaginal walls and muscles, says Bjork. And stronger muscles are crucial for delivering a baby. Trust us, you'll thank us in the delivery room.
Another thing you should know about Vitamin E? It combats dryness by hydrating your vagina's mucous membranes, making it wetter, which is great for sex.
Oranges, grapefruit, lemons: what do they all have in common? Not are they only packed with Vitamin C, which we know is good for a healthy hoo-ha, but research from the University of East Anglia found a link between the flavanoids found in citrus fruits and a decreased risk of ovarian cancer. But, if you're snacking on an orange, don't toss the peel! Here are 10 Ways You're Eating Your Fruits and Vegetables Wrong.
The same study above found that women who drank black tea daily had a 31 percent reduced risk of ovarian cancer, due to tea's high flavonoid content. Make the most of the benefits from tea with The 7-Day Flat-Belly Tea Cleanse! Test panelists lost up to 10 pounds in one week!
If you noticed that your libido is MIA, then grab a glass of red. Women who drank one to two glasses had heightened sexual desire compared to ladies who didn't down any vino, a Journal of Sexual Medicine study found. (Just be sure to cut yourself off after your second glass; enjoying more than that didn't stimulate any further arousal, and knocking back too much can stop the show before it starts.) What makes the elixir so beneficial is a rich antioxidant profile that triggers nitric oxide production in the blood, which relaxes artery walls and increases blood flow down south. Not to mention, red wine's high flavonoid content could help with ovarian cancer prevention. We say cheers to that!
And the coconut craze continues. Sure, coconut oil is yummy to eat, but this product really shines when you introduce it to your sex life. Adding coconut oil down there doesn't only your vagina more lubricated, but its anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties do a great job at preventing yeast infections. And improve things in the bedroom with these 20 Foods to Supercharge Your Sex Drive.
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. As an added bonus, zinc has been known to help vaginal dryness, regulating your menstrual cycle and fighting infections.
Like yogurt, kombucha is also alive (literally) with probiotics. These probiotics can restore a balance of bacteria in your body—and by consuming it, you may discover that your vagina tastes and smells better to you and others. Which is why it's one of the 25 Foods that Make You Insanely Sexier.