Upgrade Your Sex Life With Fruits and Veggies
When it comes to eating right, the right choice might be as easy as tasting the rainbow.
"A healthy diet should include a variety of different-colored fruits and vegetables," said Sarah Schlichter, M.P.H., a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Frederick, Maryland. "Some versatile ones to start with include different types of berries, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, oranges, apples and peppers."
These same fruits and vegetables have an equally positive impact on sexual health, but Schlichter said the effect is more indirect.
How they do their job
"Eating a variety of nutrient-dense foods and different-colored fruits and veggies can be great for brain health and reducing anxiety, which may be tied to sexual health," Schlichter said. "Cucumbers, apricots and mangoes are high in vitamin C and manganese, which both play a role in supporting sexual health, elevating energy and increasing libido. Vitamin C has also been noted to increase sperm count. Pineapples are typically thought of as helping induce labor, but can also increase libido, too. Pineapples are high in bromelain, an enzyme that triggers testosterone production, which can elevate a man's sex drive."
If eating certain fruits and veggies has a positive impact on sexual health, the lack of them can have a negative impact.
"Deficiencies in certain nutrients can manifest in different ways," Schlichter explained. "For example, symptoms of an iron deficiency may be extreme fatigue, dizziness, irregular heartbeats and decreased immunity. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency may be more subtle, but could include reduced immunity, poor recovery from exercise, brittle bones, or increased bone fractures and calcium deficiencies since vitamin D is necessary to absorb calcium."
She added that any deficiency manifesting in a lack of energy or fatigue—such as you'd get from a vitamin B deficiency—can impact sexual desire and the ability to have fulfilling sexual intercourse.
"Iron plays a key role in blood oxygen transport and can affect your energy level," said John Solle, a Noom coach as well as NASM-certified physical therapist and corrective exercise specialist in Phoenix. Noom is a subscription-based app for tracking a person's food intake and exercise habits. NASM is the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
Maintaining good health, reducing stress and anxiety and having all of the proper nutrients to support a functioning body naturally promote sexual health, as well.
Sometimes, getting all of those important vitamins and nutrients into your body proves to be a difficult task. A multivitamin rich in essential nutrients can fill in a lot of the gaps. One that supports antioxidant balance, cardiovascular health and immune-system strength manifests benefits in many areas, including sexual health. Multivitamin for Women by Giddy Health supplies more than a dozen such nutrients and was created in conjunction with industry leaders and researchers. The microbeads inside the vegetarian capsule use time-release technology to ensure maximum absorption and benefits throughout the day.
Next time you're in the grocery store
Schlichter and Solle recommended a list of 20 fruits and vegetables you should think about adding to your diet to promote sexual health:
- Cucumbers are high in vitamin C and manganese, both of which increase energy and libido. They are also mostly water, and hydration is crucial for vaginal lubrication.
- Pineapple contains bromelain, which triggers the body to produce testosterone, increasing sex drive. In general, pineapple is known to increase libido, naturally raising the hormones necessary to enjoy sex.
- Peaches contain high levels of vitamins A and C, providing the energy needed for sustained sexual activity.
- Eggplants. Potassium plays a big part in sexual health by helping to lower blood pressure; proper blood pressure also reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke. Eggplants are a good source of potassium as well as vitamin B6 and manganese, both of which play a role in promoting sexual health.
- Sweet potatoes. According to Nandini Collins, a Noom coach in Wayne, New Jersey, sweet potatoes are one of the most power-packed vegetables for vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. They contain high levels of potassium, which helps lower blood pressure and increases libido, especially in women.
- Strawberries are high in vitamin C, enhancing sex drive by supporting the body's production of hormones, mainly androgens and progesterone, that aid arousal. Vitamin C also helps protect against prostate cancer. Strawberries are also high in zinc, which boosts sperm production and vaginal lubrication.
- Blueberries. The D-mannose in blueberries helps keep the walls of the blood vessels in sexual organs healthy. This prevents urinary tract infections (UTIs), and a 2016 study found flavonoid-rich foods, such as blueberries, may prevent erectile dysfunction (ED).
- Guava is a popular food among holistic practitioners for treating infertility, balancing hormones and treating vaginal sexual dysfunction.
- Shiitake mushrooms. In many Asian cultures, shiitake mushrooms in their dried or extract form have medicinal purposes, as well as supporting fertility and increasing libido. They are rich in vitamin B and copper, which supports healthy blood vessels, thus increasing blood flow.
- Watermelon contains extremely high amounts of L-citrulline, which the body turns into L-arginine. According to the Mayo Clinic, L-arginine is an amino acid that helps the body build protein. It acts as a vasodilator and many men take it in supplement form as a possible aid for ED.
- Pomegranates. Pomegranate juice is linked to improving erectile dysfunction, thanks to its high antioxidant content. A study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research found the antioxidants in pomegranate juice enhance endothelial nitric oxide, which is crucial for the quality of an erection (though the results were not statistically significant).
- Garlic may give you bad breath but aids heart health, which is a huge factor in sexual health. In a study published in the Journal of Nutrition, researchers found garlic supplements reduce blood pressure with little risk.
- Spinach. The nitric oxide, as well as vitamin C and magnesium, in spinach boosts testosterone levels, which might help produce better, longer-lasting erections. Spinach also helps the vascular system overall.
- Ginger improves heart health, which has an indirect positive impact on sexual health. Studies indicate a relationship between testosterone production and ginger supplements.
- Peppers. A 2015 study conducted by the University of Grenoble Alpes in France found a positive correlation between endogenous salivary testosterone and the quantity of hot sauce consumed.
- Apples. A study published in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics indicated regular daily apple intake produced higher levels of genital lubrication, leading to better, more comfortable sex for women.
- Bananas. The American Heart Association (AHA) notes foods rich in potassium, such as bananas, are important for managing high blood pressure. According to the AHA, women with high blood pressure may have lower libido and less interest in sex, as well as less blood flow to the vagina, affecting the body's response to intercourse.
- Beets. Nitrates—which the body converts to nitrites—in beets and beet juice increase blood flow and cognitive function. Increased blood flow helps improve sexual desire and function in both men and women.
- Avocados contain many B vitamins. A deficiency in B vitamins manifests as fatigue and a lack of energy, which can lead to a lack of desire for sex or even energy to enjoy sex.
- Asparagus is rich in vitamin B6 and folate, making it a good vegetable for boosting arousal and increasing the chance of orgasm for all parties involved. Vitamin E also stimulates sex hormones in men and women, increasing libido and overall sexual desire.
Anything that's good for overall health is going to be good for your sexual health, but no single food is going to transform you into a sexual dynamo overnight. Use care with dietary supplements—especially those that may contain ingredients that negatively interact with a medication you're taking or a medical condition you have—and always talk to your doctor before trying a new supplement or making any significant change to your diet.