People have used food to lure lovers and boost arousal since the beginning of time—and it has been proven to work like a charm. In fact, nearly every first date revolves around food, according to a survey by mobile dating app Clover.
Recently released scientific findings show that we’re far more interested in romance and sex after we’ve enjoyed a good meal. (Apparently, a rumbling stomach doesn’t put people in the mood.) But if you really want to rev your sexual appetite, don’t just idly nosh. Instead, reach for foods shown to enhance desire and pleasure.
By increasing blood flow and energy levels, the healthy weight loss foods below will heighten your arousal, sex drive, and pleasure—so much so that you may even want to go for a second round! Work a few into your next date night. Both you and your significant other are bound to enjoy the hotter sex.
Eating spinach, a green rich in appetite-suppressing compounds, can not only give you a lingerie-ready figure but it’s also one of the best foods for sex because it can 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,” explains Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life. 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, PhD. “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. It makes you want to have more sex,” she adds.
If you’re a big Eat This, Not That! fan, you already know that we’re big fans of green tea—and for good reason. The brew 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 region. “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 explains. 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.
If you’re looking for a way to simultaneously boost your libido and calm those pre-date jitters, pour yourself a glass of red wine. Women who drank one to two glasses of the stuff 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 after your second glass; enjoying more than that didn’t stimulate any further arousal, and knocking back too much can put a damper on your sexual performance and pleasure. What makes the elixir so beneficial is a rich antioxidant profile that triggers nitric oxide production in the blood, which relaxes artery walls. This increases blood flow down south, creating feelings of sexual excitement.
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,” adds Nelson. Sounds like a great reason to order the fish to us.
Steak or Burgers
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,” explains Bjork.
Good news, chocolate lovers: Your go-to indulgence can help get you in the mood. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that have been shown to reduce stress and relax blood vessels, sending blood to all the right regions—no Twinkie can claim that. Those same flavonoids can also help diminish body fat, which can boost your confidence in bed, making it easier to focus on the main attraction. Just be sure to avoid the worst dark chocolates for weight loss and instead, opt for an ounce of our go-to bar, Lindt 85% Cocoa Excellence. It carries notes of sweet stone fruits and, unlike other bars, doesn’t contain alkalized cocoa, which contains far fewer beneficial flavonoids.
Don’t forget that certain foods for your sex drive can ensure you look, feel and perform your best in the sack, giving you the confidence you desire and the stamina you need. You probably know some to avoid (like onions; Google it), but Eat This, Not That! found other sneaky eats that could end your night prematurely. Check them out in this story: 7 Surprising Foods That Kill Your Sex Drive.
This article was originally published August 14, 2015.