The best foods to up your sex drive

We all get some spam email at least once a year about the magic blue pill that will help you get it up. And in every pharmacy, there’s an aisle with pills and creams and wonder herbs that promise to enhance your libido. These days, you can even buy some questionable pills from the gas station that swear to turn you into a pleasure stallion. 

I have my doubts about that.

But what I do know is that there are certain things we eat that influence just how frisky or fallow we feel – a fact that has very unfortunately been overlooked by the Standard American Diet (aptly shortened to SAD). Instead of looking at our vitality and vigor, the U.S. thinks about food as a ticket to weight loss only. So at the expense of nutrients and good sex, we’re all trying to lose “just five more pounds.” 

Thankfully, the reality is a lot more happy than it is SAD. It turns out that what we put in our bodies is worth so much more than just upholding dumb beauty standards that make all of us feel bad about ourselves. Instead of using food to try and lose weight or build muscle, what if I told you that it was in your power to up your libido and unleash that inner sexual tiger with a few simple food swaps?

It’s true. And I’m not one of those people who believes that changing what you eat magically cures all ailments. Trust me. As a juicing vegan who’s had seven surgeries for the same chronic condition, I know that a healthy diet doesn’t magically turn you into a disease-free, cookie cutter babe. What changing your food habits does is actually way more exciting and nuanced. An adapted diet can help you grow hair faster, heal acne, feel more alert, live longer...and even boost that libido of yours.

If you ask me, a hearty sex drive is what makes life feel pretty damn well worth living. The foods that help you get there run the gamut. Some are available right at your local corner market, while others may send you off to the nearest health food store. We’ll start with the good and end with a few foods that will totally kill the mood.

Forget about trying to lose X amount of weight by bikini season – this year, it’s all about upping your sex drive in time for spring break.

Libido boosters

Step aside, oysters! This here vegan has a few tricks up her sleeve that come straight from the sweet earth. And they’re not what you might think.

Although dark chocolate has long been touted as one of the sexiest foods on the planet, there just isn’t the science to back that claim up. In chocolate’s defense, however, it is still irrefutably delicious and a great thing to lick off your partner’s body, so...same difference?

All jokes aside, many foods people think are aphrodisiacs are just tasty placebos – but there are a handful of foods to incorporate into your diet that really do help you feel sexier in the long run, not just in the moment. And if a high drive for the long haul isn’t the ticket to a happy rest of my life, I’m not really sure what is.

Raspberries

Just in case you needed another excuse to devour Mother Nature’s juiciest berry, it turns out that eating raspberries on the regs can help boost your libido in new and exciting ways.  

That’s thanks to the presence of phytonutrients in each little gem, working hard to enhance your libido. As if that wasn’t enough, they also help increase your blood flow – a pretty essential quality if you’re looking to, ahem, get that blood moving to certain parts of your body. To get the biggest boost, get your hands on some black raspberries. These dark fruits are mega-packed with all the good stuff. As a rule of thumb, the darker the food, the more nutrition it packs. These taste so good, you can suck them off your fingers as a snack, or decorate your partner’s body with them and eat them off one by one – a real package deal.

Cinnamon and nutmeg

These spices aren’t just a tasty way to perk up your oatmeal or zing a pumpkin pie. It turns out they can boost your performance in the bedroom as well. Thanks to their warming properties, both cinnamon and nutmeg have been used for centuries as aphrodisiacs. Cinnamon works by increasing blood flow while also soothing and reducing stress.

Nutmeg is similar, but also carries curious qualities. Chances are you’ve already heard of the “high” some people (mostly teens) chase by consuming a bizarre amount of nutmeg. When you eat enough, you can experience euphoria and hallucinations, alongside intense nausea and a litany of other nasty side effects. 

The cause? Myristicin, a compound found in nutmeg that is oddly similar to MDMA. Basically, nutmeg can feel like nature’s ecstasy. But don’t go eating whole nutmegs just yet. Eating too much of it causes most people to puke, hallucinate, get agitated, and have a racing heartbeat. For most of us, puking our guts out is pretty much the biggest buzz kill imaginable. If it isn’t, then I’m sure hallucinations and confusion will shut down sexy time as well.

But if you just sprinkle nutmeg and cinnamon into mulled wine, a blackberry cobbler, morning oats, or even just a tea, you’ll enjoy all the good and none of those strange side effects. 

Maca

Another thing to sprinkle onto your oats in the morning, maca is an absolute must if you’re hoping to have a libido that just won’t quit. Thanks to some incredible health benefits, maca has long been known as a powerful root that can boost your sex drive, offer energy, improve brain function, and even minimize menopause symptoms and shrink enlarged prostates. Basically, if you need it for having sex, maca can fix it.

While evidence on maca is limited and largely anecdotal, early studies are promising. One sex therapist and sexologist named Jenni Skyler says that maca might just be so good for sex bcause  “the plant’s roots are rich in magnesium and fiber which are good for improving stamina and well-being.”

Whatever it is, this mild and earthy powder is tasty enough to add some flavor to juices, smoothies, breakfast, and more. And whether you’re looking to just boost your sex drive, or want to maintain a healthy libido as you go through lifestyle changes, there’s no reason not to incorporate maca on the regular. With just 3 milligrams of it a day, we can all be having a better sex life within the month.

Zinc – the sexiest mineral of them all

While not a food specifically, this mineral is just too full of potential to pass up. Zinc is known to have a ton of health benefits when incorporated into our diets, and one of those key things is its power to boost the libido.

Thankfully, there is no lack of tasty ways to incorporate zinc into your life. You can find this mineral in cashews, pumpkin seeds, and hemp seeds, again making it a perfect addition to that breakfast of yours. If you’re not much for breakfast, you can also get your daily dose in chickpeas, lentils, and even cocoa. Feeling deficient? To give yourself a real boost, consider adding a supplement as well. 

While zinc may not have you rolling in the hay overnight, it builds a great foundation for having more big Os in the long run and is an essential way to boost your bedroom game for good. And if you’re not sold on zinc yet, consider this: there’s a strong link between zinc deficiency and erectile dysfunction (ED). So before you throw in the towel and think you only need to resort to Viagra for the rest of your days, try adding a little extra zinc and see what magic happens first.

A solid bowl of oatmeal

I couldn’t seem to stop talking about breakfast suggestions for enhancing your sex drive, so of course I’m throwing oatmeal into the list of amazing things to give you that sweet ache of pleasure day after day. 

All the things I’ve listed are actually present in a quality morning bowl of oats, but it turns out that the oats themselves are bursting with sizzling amounts of zinc, protein, and other essential nutrients to get you off in the morning and burning til the evening. 

I won’t go so far as to say we should be incorporating oats into our bedroom play itself, but to be honest, a good bowl of oatmeal is so healthy that I’m sure there are worse things to eat off another person’s body.

Saffron

One of the most delightful flavors and a common star in one of my husband’s go-to soups, saffron kind of has it all: it’s a stunner in both sweet and savory dishes, is absolutely beautiful to look at, holds the title of one of the most expensive herbs by weight...and is an aphrodisiac, to boot. What exactly can saffron not do?

This herb’s sexy effects are most noticeable when it comes to folks on antidepressants. In two different studies, scientists found that people with depression and on anti-depressants had a significant boost to their sex drives compared to people on antidepressants who didn’t add any saffron to their lives. In another study, it was also has shown to be a “significant” mood booster overall, one that could fight depression as effectively as the antidepressants themselves. 

So with that kind of added pep to our step, it’s easy to see why people on antidepressants got a sexy little boost thanks to saffron. While those of us not on antidepressants may not have as intense of results, it certainly won’t hurt to try.

Panax Ginseng

Ginseng has been a popular herbal medicine for thousands of years in China and Korea. Panax ginseng in particular is known as a great way to boost sex drive thanks to its ability to increase our blood flow. This helps us get more turned on and avoid problems like erectile dysfunction. It’s not just an acute fix, either. There is evidence suggesting that ginseng helps reverse the problems that cause erectile dysfunction in the first place. 

If you’re having a hard time getting it up, or just getting turned on in general, a regular cup of ginseng tea may just make you feel like your old self again. If you’re trying to get pregnant and worried your swimmers can’t quite make the journey, ginseng’s to the rescue again by upping your sperm count

Even if you don’t have these issues, ginseng is a powerful herb that gives you energy to make it through the day. That vitality makes it easier to get frisky with your partner after drudging through a work day. But be careful: ginseng can give you so much energy you struggle with insomnia. If you’re prone to sleeplessness, either take it first thing in the morning, take it sparingly, or steer clear of it altogether.

Whatever you do, avoid these libido killers

Now that you’ve read through all these ripe opportunities for upping your drive, you may be ready to close the screen, head to the store, and up that breakfast routine (you’re welcome). But what good does all that really do if you’re accidentally eating some major libido killers alongside your maca and ginseng?

It turns out our sad diet (SAD) has a lot to do with the ways we can’t seem to awaken our sleeping sex gods. The SAD love of sodium and processed foods leave us less-than-energized. We’re more eager to find the next spot to steal a nap, not have a quickie. But to make the whole idea of libido squashing foods more confusing, it turns out it may not be about what food we’re eating, but how it’s packaged and grown that is causing us so many problems.

Case in point...

Berries

So I know I just said black raspberries are a wonder food for our libidos, but it turns out they can do the opposite if those berries aren’t organic. All too often, people write organic off as optional. Often, it’s dismissed as a thing reserved for people who really love the planet or are super strict about their diet. But the truth is that going organic isn’t just a choice that soothes a conscience.

Saying no to pesticides is actually vital to our health, preventing cancer, and upping that sweet sex drive. If you just dip your toes into any database of research, you’ll see that there have been numerous studies on the ways pesticides mess with our bodies’ abilities to have regular and expected hormone production.

And in case you missed it, hormones are a pretty vital part of us getting into the groove. But why are berries in particular such a problem?

For starters, they are more pesticide-ridden than many other fruits and veggies in our shopping carts. In fact, the state of California found that, on average, 300 pounds of pesticides are put on each acre of strawberries. And more than fifty different pesticides linger on your average blueberry. 

When these pesticides find their ways into the crevices and soft skins of delicious, ripe, plump berries, it’s safe to say you won’t be getting rid of all those chemicals just by washing them. And all that toxic stuff is pretty much the opposite of sexy.

No matter how many sexy adjectives you can use to describe a non-organic berry, buying them exposes you to a mountain of chemicals that leaves your body anything but primed and ready for some action.

Phthalates

Phthalates may not sound like a thing that would find its way into your food very often, but if you’ve ever used tupperware, you may just have to think again.

In the states, we’re have the mentality that the less we know about our food, the better. We like to think that ignorance is bliss. But if you want a sex life for the books, it starts with you learning what the heck a phthalate is. A chemical compound that helps keep plastics supple, phthalates have weaseled their way into some surprising corners of our lives. They crop up in shower curtains and tupperware. You find them in soda bottles and face cream. They even are part of our fast food and dairy products. Basically, if it’s not a whole, organic food that is not wrapped in plastic, phthalates are probably somewhere in there.

And they have serious consequences like testicular cancer, endometriosis, pregnancy complications, and infertility. It goes without saying that a chemical that does so much wrong with your hormones doesn’t offer much good for your sex drive.

But it’s not hopeless. For starters, limit the things you eat that come from plastic packaging, opt for a reusable water bottle made of stainless steel, and for the love of everything holy, stop microwaving plastic! 

That microwaving habit gets even worse when you think about the amount of frozen foods people eat – the packaging they come in exposes people to phthalates all over again. If you really feel like you have to eat something frozen, get something in a bag or container that doesn’t ask you to microwave it directly in the package or box it came in.

It takes a lifestyle shift, but one that’s so worth it. Making these changes isn’t the question of “do I want to look as jacked as Brad Pitt or do I want a frozen dinner?” This is “Do I want to have more orgasms or eat a frozen dinner?” 

The answer is clear every time. There’s literally no frozen food as tasty as some great sex.

BPA

As if phthalates weren’t enough to worry about, BPA is creeping up behind you with a hammer over its head as well. A bit of a buzzword nowadays, BPA (short for bisphenol A) was originally used as a hormonal birth control before it made its way into plastics lurking all around your home. BPA has wormed its way into single-use water bottles, shower curtains, soup cans, soda cans, most tupperware, and even tampons.

We’ve always known it disrupts our hormones, so it’s no wonder that this chemical is a major libido stifler and responsible for the hormonal issues that plague many of us today. When your hormones are so thoroughly knocked out of whack, you may just find old thrills like selling your used panties don’t hold the same appeal.

But even though it’s just about everywhere, you can avoid BPA as much as possible. One major place to make the switch? Your shower. Because the hot water heats your curtain up, it leaches phthalates and BPA into the air, turning your sexy shared shower experience into one laced with toxins. Thankfully, it’s pretty easy to spring for a phthalate and BPA-free shower curtain.

But don’t stop there. Look for BPA-free cans, buy foods not wrapped in plastic, and choose glass containers whenever possible. Through little changes, you can limit your exposure to this chemical and take back control of your hormones.

One size doesn’t fit all...

You might be saying that eating good food is the reason for living, and cutting out foods in plastic wipes your favorites off the map. And I’d agree – food is amazing. You can still have your favorite fries or a good beer while maintaining a rip roaring sex drive. Keep it in moderation, add some of the libido-boosting treats, and avoid plastics as much as you can. Because you’re right, food is amazing – but we all know that sex is even better. 

As you make these shifts and incorporate more mineral-providing delights, your sex life will be so off the charts that you’ll be amazed you ever once considered phthalates, pesticides, and BPA to be worth the risks.

After all, canned tomato soup just doesn’t hold a candle to my big O.