If you want to put some sizzle back into your sex life, food can help you set the mood this Valentine’s Day. There’s nothing better than a romantic, home-cooked dinner, featuring some R-rated foods to help turn up the heat.
“There’s a growing body of evidence that some of the vitamins and components in foods can enhance sexual function and sexual experience,” says Jennifer R. Berman, MD, director of the Berman Women’s Wellness Center in Beverly Hills, Calif.
And if you’re sporting a little extra pudge, incorporating these in-the-mood-foods into a healthy, plant-based diet is one of the best ways to help you get back to your sexy self. If you’re overweight, research shows losing just 10% of your body weight can improve the quality of your sex life, explains Martin Binks, PhD, of the Duke University Diet and Fitness Center. “We find that among overweight women, they bring their negative self-talk and body image issues to the bedroom, and it negatively impacts their sexual well-being.”
Here are some of the food ingredients (and my own favorite recipes) that have been major players in aphrodisiac history and lore—and also have modern-day science to help back up their claims.
Topping my of feisty foods, almonds have long been purported to increase passion, act as a sexual stimulant, and aid with fertility. Like asparagus (another one of my favorite sexy foods), almonds are nutrient-dense and rich in several trace minerals that are important for sexual health and reproduction, such as zinc, selenium, and vitamin E. “Zinc helps enhance libido and sexual desire,” says Dr. Berman. “We don’t really understand the mechanisms behind it, but we know it works.”
The Aztecs referred to avocados as, ahem, testicles, because of their physical shape. But the scientific reason why avocados make sense as an aphrodisiac is that they are rich in unsaturated fats and low in saturated fat, making them good for your heart and your arteries. Anything that keeps the heart beating strong helps keep blood flowing to all the right places; in fact, men with underlying heart disease are twice as likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED).
The color red is known to help stoke the fire: A 2008 study found that men find women sexier if they’re wearing red, as opposed to “cool” colors such as blue or green. Strawberries are also an excellent source of folic acid, a B vitamin that helps ward off birth defects in women and, according to a University of California, Berkley study, may be tied to high sperm counts in men. This Valentine’s Day, try making dark chocolate–dipped strawberries. And while we’re on the subject, there’s a reason we give chocolate on Valentine’s Day: It’s full of libido-boosting methylzanthines.
Next page: Seafood and citrus and figs, oh my!