As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, it’s time to think about setting the mood for you and your main squeeze. Romantic dates are often planned around food —whether that means trying a new or favorite restaurant, or cooking for each other at home.
We spoke with registered dietitian, Kinsy McNamee, about the best foods you can consume to help increase your sex drive, ensuring a memorable and enjoyable date. Here’s what she says about “aphrodisiacs” and other ingredients often associated with an increased libido.
HealthConnect: We’ve always heard that foods like chocolate and strawberries have the ability to improve your sex drive. Is there any truth to this?
McNamee: Yes, and no. Strawberries and chocolate are romantic foods that can certainly help set the mood — think feeding each other chocolate dipped strawberries — but there really isn’t any scientific evidence that these foods increase sex drive.
However, foods that are high in antioxidants, like strawberries, are great for your overall health and well-being, which are definitely linked to an increased sex drive. It is also possible that a compound found in chocolate, called methylxanthine, can increase sensitivity in your body and therefore, increase libido, but this link is not currently supported by scientific evidence.
What are some additional foods people should eat that will increase their libido?
Foods that are high in the nutrient choline and the amino acid arginine can help increase libido.
Choline is involved in neurotransmission during sexual response and more choline build up can help increase an orgasm’s climax and duration. Foods that are high in choline include seafood and cheese. A dish such as shrimp alfredo may aid in choline build up.
Arginine is an oxidative precursor for nitric oxide, which means it is can help with erection and blood flow. Foods that are high in arginine are nuts, seeds, yogurt, and milk. A dish such as a frozen yogurt sundae topped with pecans would be a good choice to get a high source of arginine.
Are there certain foods that women might want to try to increase their sex drive?
For women, foods that are high in choline would be the best bet at increasing sex drive as these foods are related to improve climax and the duration of orgasm because of their involvement as neurotransmitters. Most protein foods are a great source of choline. Test out eggs, seafood, dairy, nuts, seeds, and soybeans.
What about men?
For men, it’s all about arginine to help with erections, as arginine is essential for its role in vasodilation, or a dilation of blood vessels and decreased blood pressure. Men seem to respond better to those foods that are higher in arginine since it is an oxidative precursor for nitric oxide, which acts as a dilator leading to erection. These foods include pumpkin seeds, dairy products, and peanuts. Fortunately, most of these foods are also great sources of choline to help increase libido as well!
Are there any foods women should avoid or that would make them feel less inclined to be intimate with their partner?
There are no foods that in themselves lead to a decreased sex drive, however, eating TOO much of anything can lead to a person (man or woman) to feel less inclined to be intimate. Nobody wants to “get busy” with a full bloated stomach.
To help avoid bloat you need to watch three things:
- Your portion sizes
- Salt content (Here are 5 Ways to Reduce Sodium)
- Fat content of foods
If you are eating out on Valentine’s Day, ask for a doggie bag to take some food home, or simply split an appetizer and entrée with your sweetie so you don’t over-indulge.
To limit the salt and fat in your food choices, you could avoid the overcrowded restaurants and opt instead for making a nice meal together at home. Try grilling up some salmon, roasting sweet potatoes, and preparing a nice green salad with some sliced apples, walnuts, and a touch of feta cheese.
As a dietitian, what’s a recipe you like to make for your husband to get him “in the mood.”
My husband, like most people I’m sure, get in the mood when someone prepares their favorites! If I made a chocolate mousse silk pie and a nice juicy steak, he would be more than appreciative. And the good news is these foods are also pretty good sources of arginine and choline.
Are there any foods that people commonly refer to as aphrodisiacs that are actually misunderstood or just plain wrong?
There isn’t a whole lot of scientific evidence supporting the aphrodisiac effect of foods. However, people have very strong emotional connections to foods and that can certainly have an impact on the desire for sex. Foods such as chocolate, strawberries, whipped cream, wine, champagne, etc. may make you feel sexy and help get you in the mood because you are sharing them with someone you love.
One nutrient that may have some scientific backing soon is foods that are high in zinc, as zinc may help increase testosterone levels. These foods include the clichéd oyster as other protein sources.
Does your sweetie like chocolate? Try making this no bake peanut butter pie.