Let’s face it: who doesn’t want a healthy sex drive? After all, an active sex drive is linked to pleasure (duh!), pain relief, bladder control, better sleep, and more. Of course, a robust sex life also increases intimacy with your partner. Win, win, win. That said, it’s totally normal to feel fluctuations in your libido. In fact, you may be in the thick of a dry spell. Don’t fret—there are many ways to spice up your sex life! Including, meditation. But when it comes to improving your sex drive, you also want to consider your diet.
After all, passion requires sustained energy. Plus, no one wants digestive woes in the bedroom. Are you limiting foods like sugar and inflammatory oils? Are you minimizing your alcohol intake? All of these things impact your sexual desire. Without further ado, let’s dig into foods that increase libido.
Featured image from our interview with Sanetra Nere Longno by Michelle Nash.
Benefits of a Healthy Sex Life
Studies show that sex is extremely beneficial to our health. Sex activates a variety of neurotransmitters that impact not only our brains, but several other organs in our bodies. In other words, the perks of sex expand well beyond the bedroom. For women, the benefits of a healthy sex life can include:
- Healthier immune system
- Strong pelvic floor (helpful for avoiding incontinence)
- Lower blood pressure
- Better heart health, including a lower risk for heart attack
- Improved self-esteem
- Decreased depression and anxiety
- Increased libido
- Better sleep
- Overall stress reduction
What contributes to a strong sexual desire?
What controls our libido (also called our sex drive) is actually a very complex web of biological, psychological, and social-cultural influences. Our hormones play a major role, too. All of these things come together to create the sex drive. A strong sexual desire can be correlated to routine exercise, high dopamine levels, reasonable self-esteem, normal testosterone, and eating foods that increase libido.
On the flip side, libido levels can be negatively affected by alcohol, drugs, anxiety, disease, fatigue, menopause, life circumstances, history of sexual abuse, religious traditions, and more.
Yes, It’s Normal For Your Libido to Fluctuate
Just as every person’s taste buds, cravings, and appetites differ, so does sex drive. We are all unique in this world—our sex drives are a reflection of our bio-individuality. Unsurprisingly, it’s well understood that libido varies between men and women. But it also fluctuates across seasons of our lives. Ultimately, your libido depends on a multitude of factors. Think: age, hormone levels, quality of life, and attraction to your partner (physical and emotional).
We can’t put a number—or name—to what a “normal” libido is. And having a low libido doesn’t necessarily qualify as a chronic illness. However, chat with your healthcare provider if you think you have a low libido. Ultimately, you have the power to decide how you feel about your own sex drive—as well as how it’s affecting your relationship. This goes without saying, but comparison is the thief of joy. What you see on HBO isn’t reality. Your sex life, your standards.
A Nutritious Diet Can Increase Your Libido
Having a healthy sex drive is linked to feeling physically and emotionally healthy, so it’s no surprise that the foods you eat play a role in boosting your sex life. While foods can play a role in a robust sexual desire, most of the research has less to do with libido and more to do with sexual performance.
At any rate, a nutritious diet can benefit your sex life in many ways, including improving your stamina in the bedroom. Furthermore, eating a diet rich in vegetables and lean proteins—and low in foods that contain sugar and saturated fat—can also help prevent disorders that affect your libido, like hormonal conditions.
15 Foods That Increase Libido
Without sounding like a broken record, what you put into your body determines how well it functions. By filling your body with unhealthy foods, inflammatory oils, and blood sugar-wrecking ingredients, sexual health takes a nosedive. Instead, focus on foods that increase libido. These are foods rich in zinc, antioxidants, B vitamins, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
While no scientific studies prove that oysters stimulate desire, they have been considered a natural aphrodisiac for hundreds of years. They’re widely known to increase sex drive and desire! Reason being, oysters are high in zinc. This compound increases blood flow, which may aid in blood flow to sex organs. Zinc—which is found in an array of animal and plant-based foods—may be especially important in male fertility, as it helps regulate testosterone levels. Can’t stand oysters? Clams will do!
Recipe: CRU’s Classic Cocktail Sauce & Horseradish Créme Fraîche
Eating high-quality animal protein, such as beef, chicken, and pork, can help improve your sex drive (thanks to their compounds of specific amino acids). Foods high in protein can improve blood flow, such as L-arginine and zinc. Of course, smooth blood flow is crucial for a strong sexual response as well as getting the blood flowing to the right places.
Recipe: Grilled Yogurt-Marinated Chicken with All the Herbs
Best known for its essential fatty acids and omega-3s, salmon’s nutritious fats help maintain a healthy heart and to prevent plaque build-up in our arteries. As a result, blood can flow smoothly, which in turn keeps your sex drive thriving. Omega-3s can also raise dopamine levels in the brain, triggering arousal. When possible, choose wild-caught salmon.
Recipe: Grilled Salmon with Stone Fruit Salsa
Cashews, almonds, and walnuts are chock-full of zinc—along with L-arginine—to get your blood flowing. Walnuts are doubly helpful, as they are also rich in omega-3s. Omega-3 fatty acids are linked to dopamine production, which helps improve libido.
Recipe: Orange-Walnut Olive Oil Cake
Here at Camille Styles, we love our seeds. Along with helping balance hormones, seeds contain vitamins and minerals that can help increase your sexual function. For example: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds, and chia seeds. In fact, chia seeds are known to increase male libido. These have been shown to boost testosterone, naturally, thanks to the essential fatty acids that serve as building blocks for hormones.
Flax, on the other hand, is known to increase libido in women. Flaxseeds contain phytoestrogens that act very similarly to female hormones that are linked to a healthy sex life. Flax can be beneficial for women who have low estrogen levels, such as those experiencing menopause.
Recipe: Get Figgy With It Smoothie
Apples are rich in a compound called quercetin, an antioxidant known to promote blood circulation, treat erectile dysfunction, and manage low libido. In fact, this study reported a 14% reduction in erectile dysfunction in males who had a higher fruit intake. This may be due to their flavonoid content. In females, high blood pressure can lead to a lower libido and less interest in sex, particularly if it causes fatigue. Furthermore, low blood flow to the vagina can affect how their body responds to sexual activity. Overall, a diet rich in flavonoids can boost your overall health and keep your sex life healthy.
Recipe: Apple Walnut Salad
Next on the list of foods that increase libido: beets. Beetroot is rich in antioxidants and vitamins—a healthful addition to any diet. They’re also high in dietary nitrates, which means they could help boost your sex life. In essence, dietary nitrates expand the blood vessels, a process known as vasodilation, which improves blood flow. This has beneficial effects on muscle contraction. Because of this, some athletes use nitrates to boost performance (in and out of the bedroom).
Recipe: Grapefruit, Avocado, and Golden Beet Salad with Crunchy Chickpeas and Feta
Like apples, raspberries are rich in flavonoids. This phytochemical-rich (and blood sugar-friendly!) food may enhance both libido and sexual endurance. Raspberries are loaded with zinc, which is essential for sex. Women with appropriate levels of zinc have a high desire for sex. In males, zinc controls testosterone levels and also helps in sperm production.
Recipe: Raspberry Cocoa Energy Balls
Avocados provide numerous benefits, including vitamin E and healthy fats—important for hormonal health. Plus, avocados contain magnesium and a mineral called boron, which studies indicate may benefit testosterone levels. Boron is a trace mineral that seems to influence testosterone metabolism in the body and may protect against testosterone degradation. Furthermore, vitamin E is associated with increased fertility.
Recipe: Avocado Toast with Kale Pesto and Crunchy Veggies
Egg yolks are rich in healthy fats, protein, and selenium. Selenium, specifically, may help enhance the production of testosterone by activating certain pathways and the expression of certain genes. Eggs are also rich in vitamins B6 and B5. These help balance hormone levels and fight stress—two components that are crucial to a healthy libido.
Eggs are also a symbol of fertility and rebirth. In fact, eating raw chicken eggs prior to sex is said to heighten libido and maximize energy levels. At any rate, eggs are highly nutritious. When possible, choose organic (or, ideally, pasture-raised) eggs.
Recipe: Mushroom, Spinach, and Goat Cheese Frittata
Chocolate is packed with romance-boosting compounds. These compounds include anandamide (the feel good chemical), phenylethylamine (the love chemical that triggers endorphin release), and theobromine (a central nervous system stimulant). Said differently: eating chocolate can increase libido by promoting the release of certain chemicals. Even if its effects are more psychological than biological, we’ll take any excuse to break off a few more squares.
Recipe: Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies
Have you heard of maca? Known as a superfood, maca is a Peruvian root that has long been used to increase strength, stamina, energy, fertility, and libido (for men and women). While research is still needed, maca root may alleviate SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction, including having beneficial effects on libido. Add a dash to your smoothie or coffee and see how you feel.
Recipe: Adaptogenic Hot Chocolate
This Italian herb is known to improve blood circulation, keep blood pressure and cholesterol levels in check, and it’s an excellent source of brain-boosting nutrients—magnesium and flavonoids. As mentioned, ingredients that are good for your heart (and blood flow!) improve libido as well. Basil also has a warming effect on the body, possibly enhancing arousal.
Recipe: Creamy Vegan Pasta with Tomatoes and Basil
Olive oil isn’t just famed as a heart-healthy food: it’s also an aphrodisiac. Yes, olive oil can help enhance the female orgasm! It works its magic by triggering the testosterone hormone, which induces sexual desires, thus enhancing orgasms. Research proves it. At any rate, adopting a Mediterranean-style diet can vastly improve your sexual prowess.
Recipe: Spinach and Ricotta Pizza with Garlicky Olive Oil
Last but not least on the list of foods to increase libido? Carrots. This vegetable is known to help with balancing libido, thanks to its high amounts of beta-carotene. This compound supports the entire endocrine system, thereby supporting libido, boosting metabolism, and strengthening the kidneys. Furthermore, carrots help balance hormones—specifically, estrogen. Carrots contain unique undigestible fibers to help detox excess estrogen from the body.
Recipe: Honey Roasted Carrots with Spicy Citrus, Sage & Pepitas
This post was originally published on August 15, 2022, and has since been updated.