Everyone has heard about aphrodisiacs but is it all true? Will eating them really improve your sex life? After all, a quick google search will give you a long list of foods that are meant to improve your sexual desire, pleasure and performance. Oysters are commonly listed but we don’t all like oysters and then there is a long list of other foods like avocados, kidney beans, pumpkin seeds, pomegranate, broccoli, watermelon and walnuts. What should you eat? To understand which foods are likely to be of benefit for your sex life we need to look at specific nutrients and the impact they have on human physiology.
Zinc is vital for our reproductive health. Not only is it involved in sperm production and ovulation but it also regulates testosterone levels. Arousal and desire have been shown to be adversely affected by low testosterone levels. Testosterone is not just about male reproductive health either, it is important for women’s sex hormones and drive.
Arginine is an amino acid found in protein foods (amino acids are the building blocks of protein). In the human body, arginine is metabolised into a compound, nitric oxide. It is produced in the endothelial layer of the arteries (the inner lining of the blood vessels) and when released into the blood vessels themselves causes them to relax. Nitric oxide can also be synthesised from natural nitrates in food. Flavonoid compounds stimulate the release of nitric oxide from the endothelial layer.
If blood vessels relax the blood flow increases. This includes blood flow to the sexual organs. Think of a tube with water running through it. Imagine you are constricting the tube by applying pressure. If you now remove that pressure the water will run through freely. Relaxing blood vessels improves blood circulation. Blood circulation is needed for erectile function and in women reduced lubrication and orgasm is linked to a reduction of blood circulation to the pelvis and clitoris.
Certain compounds such as anandamide and phenylethylamine enhance our feelings of pleasure and boost our mood. Anandamide is a neurotransmitter that is part of the endocannabinoid system and produced in the brain, regulating our mood and promoting blissful feelings. Phenylethylamine is a nervous system stimulant occurring naturally in the body and promotes heightened focus and improved mood. Both of these compounds are found in high concentrations in raw cacao.
If you want to improve your sex life then eat food with a high content of zinc, arginine, flavanoids, natural nitrates, anandamide and phenylethylamine. We’ve got just the perfect meals for you!
Oysters are incredibly rich in zinc, far more than any other food source. This is probably why they are often noted as an aphrodisiac. There is actually very little research though in respect of any food and their role as aphrodisiacs. The research on the libido-enhancing properties of oysters has only been performed on rats and there are no human studies. However, if you love oysters don’t let this deter you. The high zinc content will benefit your sex life!
Stir Fry Lamb with Sesame
Lamb, Red Onion, Garlic, Ginger, Red Cabbage, Sesame Oil, Sesame Seeds
Stir-frying is a quick and easy way of cooking. Lamb is both a good source of zinc and arginine. The red onion, garlic and ginger not only provide a flavour base but can support your sex life as well. Garlic contains arginine to aid in the production of nitric oxide. Red onion contains flavonoids that stimulate the release of nitric oxide from the endothelial layer resulting in increased blood flow to the sexual organs. Ginger contains zinc to regulate the production of testosterone. Including red cabbage as a vegetable in this dish provides additional flavonoids and sesame is a nutrient-dense source of both arginine and zinc.
Stuffed Aubergine with Pomegranate, Feta & Pumpkin Seeds
Roasted Aubergine, Feta, Pomegranate, Pumpkin Seeds
Nuts and seeds are great sources of both arginine and zinc and therefore including them in any dish will help boost sex drive. Pumpkin seeds could be replaced by sunflower seeds, pine nuts, sesame seeds, cashew nuts for a combination! The red/purple colour of the pomegranate seeds is due to the flavonoid content that will help stimulate the release of nitric oxide and increase blood flow to the sexual organs.
Chocolate Nut Granola with Berries
Nut and Seed Mix, Almond Butter, Oats, Mixed Berries
Cacao contains both the compounds anandamide and phenylethylamine responsible for enhancing our pleasure and mood. Bear in mind that the compounds are present in high concentrations in raw cacao but much is lost during processing. When choosing your chocolate to have the highest impact on health select the best quality you can and the highest concentration of cacao solids. 70% cacao solids or above will ensure more of the beneficial compounds and less sugar!
Chocolate has further benefits beyond these mood enhancers. Cacao also contains arginine, flavonoids and magnesium that will increase the blood flow to the sexual organs. Arginine is converted to nitric oxide, flavonoids stimulate the release of nitric oxide and magnesium directly encourages relaxation of muscles including the muscles of blood vessel walls.
A mixture of nuts and seeds and the almond butter will be packed with arginine and zinc. The combination with chocolate and topping with flavonoid-rich berries provides a delightful snack any time of the day to put you in a loving mood. Find a recipe here.
Beetroot Chocolate Brownies
Beetroot, 70% Chocolate, Cacao, Eggs, Butter, Walnuts, Flour, Sugar
Easy to make and delicious! Beetroot is rich in natural nitrate that can be converted in the body to nitric oxide improving blood flow. Cacao contains the mood-enhancing compounds, flavonoids and magnesium. Not only that, add some walnuts for additional arginine and zinc content and you’ve got yourself a real powerhouse of a libido-enhancing treat. There is even arginine in dairy products and if you substitute the flour for ground nuts (such as almonds) then your arginine content will be even higher.
One thing to note is that arginine promotes the herpes virus and lysine resists the virus. So if you suffer from cold sores or genital herpes during an outbreak you want to avoid foods that are high in arginine and low in lysine. This will mean nuts and seeds definitely won’t be your friend!
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