The double whammy of stress and the aging process can rob your body of libido. And even if you still have an ounce of libido to engage in intimacy, stress can also hinder your enjoyment of intimacy.
Unfortunately, many foods that are recommended for libido are animal-derived. If you’re eating a plant-based diet (or mostly vegan), no worries. There are plenty of foods you can eat to kick start your libido.
But before you make a copy of this love-stimulating food shopping list, it’s important to understand what makes these foods the best plant-based options for libido.
Best Foods For Increasing Sex Drive: Circulation Is Key
When it comes to boosting sex drive, nothing can be accomplished without fresh blood flow and optimal circulation flowing through the blood vessels. And in order to improve your circulation, you need nutrients that activate nitric oxide, or NO.
NO is produced by each and every one of your approximately 37.2 trillion cells. As a vasodilator, NO relaxes the blood vessel musculature. When levels of nitric oxide increase, blood vessels widen, blood pressure lowers, blood flow increases and then...
The rest is up to imagination.
But NO isn’t only important for male sexual function. Women, too, enjoy a more positive sexual experience when NO levels increase.
Now begs the question, which nutrients and plant-based foods stimulate, um, stimulation?
Here’s an intimacy-boosting food-shopping list for you: dark chocolate; beets; dark leafy greens; capsaicin (chili peppers); cayenne pepper; pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and other nuts and seeds; garlic (but take it easy on if you’re on a date); citrus fruits and legumes.
The 2 Most Important Nutrients For Improving Libido
If you have a healthy love life, chances are that you’ll have higher, more active levels of serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that’s best known as “the happy hormone.” Serotonin isn’t the only hormone associated with love making. You may have heard of oxytocin, which is called the “love hormone.”
Now, you don’t need to engage in frequent sexual activity to get an oxytocin rush. One of the best reasons to get a puppy is that cuddling with one boosts oxytocin. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, cuddle parties were a thing. If you’re able to, give someone a nice long hug to boost oxytocin.
But if it’s intimacy you’re eating for, two of the most vital nutrients for boosting serotonin are zinc and the B vitamins.
Some of the best plant-based sources of these nutrients, according to one registered dietician, are: green-tipped bananas, avocados, and the raw main ingredient in hummus: chickpeas.
Clinically-Backed Herbs For Sexual Health
Interestingly, albeit perhaps not that surprisingly, many foods mentioned here are the same ones that help elevate or stabilize your mood.
But beyond eating a whole-food (mostly) plant-based diet, there are some herbal ingredients that are supported by some research studies to improve libido and/or sexual performance in men.
See if one or two of the following herbs results in any positive outcomes, provided they won’t cause drug interactions if you take medication (check with your doctor, not Dr. Google). Also keep in mind that herbal supplements take longer to work than pharmaceutical remedies for sexual dysfunction.
Here are a few herbs that may help:
For 5,000 years ginseng, known in traditional Chinese medicine, as “the king of all herbs” has been used to stimulate sexual appetite. Modern science confirms the ancient use. Research in the journal, Spermatogenesis states that ginsenosides, the active compound in ginseng, shows a positive correlation among ginseng, libido, and copulatory performances in animal studies. These effects have been confirmed in case-control studies in humans.
Another legendary Chinese herb, also known as “horny goat weed,” epimedium contains the compound “icariin,” which in animal studies has been shown to potentially improve erectile function. Epimedium increases the percentage of smooth muscle contraction and enhances nitric oxide.
French Maritime Pine Bark & L-arginine
Pycnogenol, a compound in French maritime pine extract, and L-arginine, an amino acid, increases production of nitric oxide. In a study in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, this combination caused a significant improvement in sexual function.
Considered an adaptogenic herb, maca may boost libido in both men and women. A highly-nutritious root, maca is supported by research to improve libido. Although researchers aren’t exactly sure how it works, maca is supported by preliminary studies on human participants that demonstrates its efficacy for improving sexual desire. Also, in animal studies, it has been shown to improve endurance.
Red Beet Extract
Beets have already been mentioned above in this best foods for libido list. If you’re not a fan of squishy, slimy beets, you can get the benefits from them in supplement form. Beets are high in nitrates, which converts into nitric oxide, thereby dilating blood vessels and lowering blood pressure. (Keep your intake to a minimum if you have kidney stones or a history of them, as beets are high in oxalates.)
This is by no means a complete list of foods, nutrients or supplements that may contribute to a more robust sexual vitality. Needless to say, eating lots of processed and high-sugar foods as well as alcohol, can deplete your libido.
What are your favorite foods to stimulate your love life? Let us know below.