Despite its reputation for being temperamental, the penis doesn’t ask for much — support, protection, a safe distance from heavy machinery…
And, as it turns out, a healthy diet. The food you eat is crucial for sexual health, from erection strength to sperm motility. Research indicates that some specific nutrients — from common vitamins to lesser-known plant extracts — that have demonstrated positive effects on very specific aspects of penile performance. Eat This Not That! has rounded up the best examples of these sexual superfoods.
Eating spinach, a green rich in appetite-suppressing compounds, can not only make you look better naked but increase blood flow below the belt. “Spinach is rich in magnesium, a mineral that decreases inflammation in blood vessels, increasing blood flow,” explains Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life. That may not sound sexy, but you’re sure to enjoy the effects. “Increased blood flow drives blood to the extremities, which, like Viagra, can increase arousal and make sex more pleasurable,” says psychotherapist and sex expert Tammy Nelson Ph.D. Spinach is also rich in folate, which increases blood flow to the nether regions, helping to protect you against age-related sexual issues. For 150+ recipes that will make your belly flat—and your member look bigger—buy the brand-new book from Abs Dietcreator David Zinczenko: Zero Bell
Recent University of Texas findings suggests that men who drink two to three cups of java a day—or 85 to 170 milligrams of caffeine from other beverages—are 42 percent less likely to have erectile dysfunction than those who consume up to seven milligrams of the stimulant daily. And those who throw back four to seven cups were 39 percent less likely to have the condition than their less jittery counterparts. The trend holds true among overweight, obese and hypertensive men, but not for those with diabetes, a condition that often causes the issue. So, how exactly does drinking coffee keep things going strong? The scientists say that the stimulant triggers a series of reactions in the body that ultimately increase blood flow to the penis.
Hard men have healthy hearts, so eat bananas for potassium, which is great for your heart and circulation. Getting enough potassium helps keep your sodium levels under control, stopping your blood pressure from hitting the roof and reducing your risk of heart problems. If you eat too much salt and don’t like bananas, get your potassium from oranges or jacket potatoes (the mineral’s in the skin).
Double down on the marinara to protect your manhood. Men who eat over 10 servings of tomatoes each week have an 18 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer — the result of lycopene, an antioxidant which fights off toxins that can cause DNA and cell damage — a study in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention found. A previous study found the garden vegetable could also improve sperm morphology (shape); men with the highest tomato intake contributed to between 8 and 10 percent more ‘normal’ sperm.
How alpha are you? Well, how many shakes of hot sauce can you handle? A recent study from France found men who have a taste for spicy foods tend to have higher testosterone levels than those who can’t handle the heat. Of the 114 male participants surveyed, researchers saw a clear correlation between frequent hot-sauce usage and higher T-levels. Study authors suggest the findings may be due in part to capsaicin—the fiery compound in chili pepper that previous studies have associated with increased testosterone levels. In animal studies, capsaicin has also shown to increase the size of sex organs, while simultaneously decreasing belly fat.
Watermelon is one of the richest natural sources of L-citrulline, an amino acid that can help make your erection harder. Once it’s in the body, it converts to L-arginine, stimulating the production of nitric oxide, which increases blood flow to the penis, strengthening erections.
If you like your food like you like your lovers—sweet and spicy—you’re in luck. Ginger is another food that can improve your sex life by aiding blood flow and improving artery health. According to a study in theInternational Journal of Cardiology, consuming a mere teaspoon of the stuff a few times a week is all you need to reap the heart-healthy benefits. The spice has also been shown to boost levels of testosterone and sperm viability. So go ahead and place that second order of sushi this week—just don’t leave the ginger on your plate.
Some scholarly minds believe it wasn’t an apple, but a pomegranate with which Eve tempted Adam in the Garden of Eden. She was smart: A recent study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research discovered that pomegranate juice, rich in antioxidants that support blood flow, can help improve erectile dysfunction. Though this study was funded by POM Wonderful, animal studies have also shown that the elixir improves long-term erectile response, so it’s definitely worth a shot–literally. Knock a shot back or water your juice down a bit: One cup of tart POM Wonderful packs 31 grams of sugar.
The brew is rich in compounds called catechins, which have been shown to blast away belly fat and speed the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy. But that’s not all: Catechins also boost desire by promoting blood flow to your nether region. “Catechins kill off free radicals that damage and inflame blood vessels, increasing their ability to transport blood,” says Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life. “Catechins also cause blood vessel cells to release nitric oxide, which increases the size of the blood vessels, leading to improved blood flow,” she explains. Blood flow to the genitals = feeling of sexual excitement, so sipping the stuff will, well, make you want to get it on.
There’s a reason chocolate became a gift given before amorous activity. Cacao increases levels of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin, which can lower stress levels, boosting desire and making it easier to reach orgasm. And that’s not all: Cocoa also increases blood flow through the arteries and relaxes blood vessels, sending blood to all the right regions, which can boost sexual pleasure.
If you want to go long enough to help your date reach the big O, reach for some oatmeal. The popular breakfast cereal is a good source of l-arginine, an amino acid commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction. Plus, whole grains like oatmeal also help lower cholesterol levels. Having high cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, a condition that clogs and narrows arteries, impairing blood flow. This could eventually lead to heart problems, but you’ll likely notice issues below the belt first. The arteries surrounding the genital area are narrower than coronary blood vessels, so they’re more susceptible to clots. Simply put, the better your cholesterol levels are, the better your erection will be, too.
These underrated kernels are rich in zinc, and people with higher levels in their system have been shown to have a higher sex drive than those with lower levels. They’re also a good source of magnesium, which boosts testosterone and keeps sperm healthy and viable. Pine nuts are the primary ingredient in pesto, so go Italian on your next date night, or sprinkle them on a salad with libido-boosting avocado, tomatoes and salmon.
Nature’s candy can be a cherry bomb for your sex life. Cherries are rich in anthocyanins, plant chemicals which clean your arteries of plaque, keeping them open for business. That has a direct effect on blood flow below the belt. So make them a regular snack: One cup clocks in at fewer than 100 calories and boasts B vitamins, cancer-fighting flavonoids and three grams of fiber.
If you’re looking for a way to simultaneously boost your libido and calm those pre-date jitters, pour yourself a glass of red wine. According to a study printed in Nutrition Journal, vino could elevate your testosterone levels. In lab tests, researchers found that quercetin, a compound in wine, blocks an enzyme that causes the body to excrete testosterone, thereby increasing the amount of T circulating in the blood. Wine’s rich antioxidant profile also triggers nitric oxide production, which relaxes artery walls. This increases blood flow down south, creating feelings of sexual excitement.
This Amazonian aphrodisiac comes from a tree native to Brazil, where tribes traditionally use it to remedy a lagging libido, impotence and nervousness (a well-known mojo killer). The plant’s active compounds, catuabine A and B, appear to act on sex centers in the brain, says Kilham, so you may experience erotic dreams while taking catuaba.
It’s no secret that oily coldwater fish like wild salmon, sardines, and tuna are overflowing with omega-3 fatty acids, but here’s something you may not know: The nutrient not only benefits your heart but also raises dopamine levels in the brain. This spike in dopamine improves circulation and blood flow, triggering arousal. There’s more: “Dopamine will make you feel more relaxed and connected to your partner, which makes sex more fun,” says psychotherapist and sex expert Tammy Nelson.
Bikinis, models, nuts … Is there anything Brazilian that’s not sexy? Selenium is a trace mineral found in Brazil nuts that plays an important role in hormone health. You only need a tiny bit for healthy sperm, but a tiny deficiency can be catastrophic for reproductive health. In one study, men who had lower testosterone and were infertile also had significantly lower selenium levels than the fertile group. Supplementing with the mineral improved chances of successful conception by 56 percent. And a second study that included 69 infertile men with low levels of the mineral, found selenium supplementation could significantly improve sub-par sperm motility associated with testosterone deficiency. Moreover, 11 percent of the men successfully impregnated their partners during the trial!
Potatoes—whether they’re the white or the sweet variety—are a great source of potassium. This nutrient boosts circulation, which keeps blood flowing where it needs to go and boosts your bedroom pleasure. (It also counteracts salt-related bloating, so you’ll look better naked too.)
Ancient Incans consumed this energizing Peruvian plant before battle or a bout of sex, says Chris Kilham, an ethnobotanist at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Maca increases sexual appetite, stamina, endurance and fertility. One 2008 study conducted at the Depression Clinical and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found that maca helped people with antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction to regain their libidos.
A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility that analyzed the effect of various fruit and vegetables on sperm quality discovered carrots had the best all-round results on sperm count and motility — a term used to describe the ability of sperm to swim towards an egg. Men who ate the most carrots saw improved sperm performance by 6.5 to 8 percent. The Harvard researchers attribute the boost to carotenoids, powerful antioxidative compounds in carrots that help the body make vitamin A.
Quien és mas macho? A recent study by French researchers found that men who eat the most spicy foods tend to have higher testosterone levels than those with milder palates. Study authors attribute the T-boosting effects in part to capsaicin, a compound in chilies that previous research has associated with increasedtestosterone levels. Seriously spicy serrano peppers are also packed with quercetin, a nutrient shown to boost testosterone levels in the body by reducing the amount that’s otherwise flushed out by the kidneys. Capsaicin, the compound that makes tabasco sauce hot, releases chemicals that increase heart rate, mirror signs of arousal and rev your libido.
Pumpkin seeds are one of the best dietary sources of zinc and magnesium—essential minerals shown to boost testosterone levels and growth factor hormone, especially when combined. In fact, college football players who took a nightly zinc-magnesium supplement showed a 30 percent increase in testosterone levels and a 13 to 16 percent increase in leg strength, one eight-week trial found. The seeds are also a rich source polyunsaturated fatty acids shown to boost prostaglandins — hormone-like substances that play a key role in libido.
Classic dietary staples, like the chicken breast, may not have the Instagram presence of say, maca, but they earn a place on plates much longer. Simply put, their health benefits continue to stack up. In addition to a hefty amount of arginine — only turkey has more — a 3-ounce cooked chicken breast contains only 142 calories and 3 grams of fat, but an impressive 26 grams of protein. That’s more than half of the day’s recommended allowance. Plus, it’s rich in B vitamins to rev your metabolism and energy levels. (And if you’re looking to treat erectile dysfunction, those B vitamins definitely don’t hurt.)
It turns out celery, of all things, is one seriously sexy stalk. “Celery contains androsterone, a male sex pheromone released through perspiration, which limited research has shown to increase flirty behavior among females,” says dietitian Keri Gans, author of The Small Change Diet. Ingesting the androsterone can boost also boost male arousal, and cause a dude’s body to send off scents and signals that make him more desirable to women, according to Alan Hirsch, M.D., author of Scentsational Sex.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a less sexy-sounding food, but liver is loaded with zinc, which is essential for keeping testosterone levels up and prevents your body from converting T into estrogen. Beef liver is also high in Vitamin B12, a deficiency of which has been lined to erectile dysfunction.
The boner-boosting ingredient in eggs is choline, a powerful natural chemical that not only burns fat but can help set your pants afire. Choline triggers the production of nitric oxide (NO), which relaxes arteries in the penis and enables blood flow to do its thing. Choline is a precursor to acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter which controls sexual behavior through its activity in the brain; having a higher level of AcH has been associated with more frequent sex and more intense, longer orgasms. Bonus: Eggs are high in vitamins B5 and B6, which help balance hormone levels and fight stress, two undoubtedly helpful factors in the bedroom.
Honey, unlike table sugar, is packed with beneficial compounds like quercetin, which has been shown to aid athletic endurance and ward off depression—two very good things for your penis. Honey also has a less dramatic impact on your blood-sugar levels than regular sugar, so it won’t send your body into fat-storage mode the way the white stuff can. Try adding some honey to your afternoon tea or morning bowl of oatmeal, but don’t go overboard; the sweet nectar has 17 g of sugar and 64 calories per tablespoon, so too much honey can make you heavy, rather than horny.
These unassuming fungi are a libido-boosting triple threat: They have the highest level of choline of any vegetable—one serving has almost double the amount found in an egg yolk. They’re also rich in zinc and Vitamin D, which keeps testosterone at a healthy level and your libido humming.
In addition to being leaner and lower in calories than conventional cuts, grass-fed beef offers a host of benefits, from muscle-building to fat-burning to heart protection. You can add assistance in the bedroom to its list of good qualities; it’s an excellent source of Vitamin B12. A recent report from Harvard University highlighted a study that has linked low levels of B12 to erectile dysfunction.
A 2000 study conducted at the Institute of Sexology in (where else?) Paris found that muira puama, a Brazilian shrub traditionally used in South African folk medicine as an aphrodisiac, increased libido and erection strength in a majority of men who complained of impotence and a lack of sexual desire. Other studies show this happy-making herb also counteracts chronic stress, depression and nervous exhaustion.
Men looking to boost their sperm quality should head to the fish counter, research suggests. Sperm size and shape — one marker used to evaluate male infertility — was better in men who ate the most white meat fish as compared to men who ate the least, a study published in The Journal of Nutrition showed. And total sperm count was about 34 percent higher among men who ate the most dark meat fish, like salmon and tuna, than men who ate the least amount of fish. Meanwhile, men who reported eating one to three servings of processed meat had worse sperm morphology (shape) than men who ate the fewest servings.
These “sea pistachios,” as Kimmy Schmidt called them, are no joke.They’re one of the richest food sources of erection-enhancingVitamin B12 you can find. The boner-boosting bivalves are also high in L-arginine, an amino acid that converts to nitric oxide (NO), the Marvin Gaye of naturally occurring gases: It causes blood vessels to relax and facilitate blood flow, helping you get and stay hard. Additionally, clams are high in muscle-building protein.
The fowl most associated with belt-loosening feasts is lean, high in protein and the single best food source of arginine, the erection-boosting amino acid. Researchers at the NYU School of Medicine gaveL-arginine to a group of impotent men, and found that six out of 15 men receiving the amino acid claimed an improved ability to achieve erections, while none of the 15 men in the placebo group reported any benefit. Additionally, the bird is rich in DHA omega-3 acids, which have been shown to boost brain function, improve your mood and turn off fat genes, actually preventing fat cells from growing! Just make sure you buy white meat only, as dark contains too much fat. And steer clear of prepackaged, sliced lunchmeat—those turkeys are strictly jive.
This IKEA-cafeteria staple can actually help you put things together in the bedroom. In addition to packing four times your daily requirement of Vitamin B12 in one average-sized filet, herring is also rich in magnesium, which boosts testosterone and keeps sperm healthy and viable. On top of that, oily fish like herring are sky-high in vitamin D, which can help you get and keep it up. In a recent study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, Italian researchers examined 143 men with ED; 80% had suboptimal levels of the nutrient, and the men with severe ED had a 24% lower level of D than those with a mild form of the condition. The theory is that low levels of D promote dysfunctional blood vessels and a shortage of nitric oxide.
These chilly-sounding mollusks have the ability to heat things up quick, with more than three times the recommended daily value ofVitamin B12. A 3-ounce serving also has 20 grams of muscle-boosting protein, with only 4 grams of fat and 150 calories. Like clams, they’re rich in iron, which helps ensure that your blood flows everywhere it needs to. They’re also high in magnesium, a natural erection enhancer; low levels of the mineral have been shown to contribute to ED. Boost your levels even further with these magnesium-rich foods.
Pistachios, peanuts and walnuts all contain the amino acid L-arginine, which is one of the building blocks of nitric oxide—a naturally occurring gas that helps guys maintain their erections. Plus, nuts also help reduce cholesterol levels. The less cholesterol you have in your system, the easier it is for blood to circulate throughout your body and down to your penis, which can help you maintain a firmer erection longer.
According to legend, Casanova — the Tinder master of his time — regularly ate a breakfast of 50 oysters. Turns out he could’ve doubled as a nutritionist if he’d been able to get out of the sack. In addition to being high in B12, oysters contain more zinc than any other food source ( almost five times your daily DV). This nutrient is essential for testosterone production, and when your T levels droop, so does your business. Like other bivalves, oysters are high in D-aspartic acid, an amino acid that has been shown to temporarily boost low testosterone levels and improve sperm quality in infertile men.
If seafood isn’t your thing — or the Casanova Breakfast Plan doesn’t work with your budget — know that fortified breakfast cereals are also good sources of B12. According to the USDA, healthy cereals such as Kellogg’s All-Bran, Special K, Smart Start and Whole Grain Total provide a full day’s allowance. Check the nutrition facts and opt for whole grains, which can help lower cholesterol levels. Having high cholesterol can lead to atherosclerosis, or clogged and constricted arteries, which inhibits blood flow. That’s dangerous for your heart, but guess which artery-rich organ you’ll probably notice it in first?
Because it reduces anxiety and inhibitions, this nervous system tonic helps you become more relaxed and amenable to arousal, says registered herbalist Roy Upton, R.H, executive director of the American Herbal Pharamcopoeia. Damiana leaf’s aphrodisiac abilities are also linked to a compound it contains, progestin.
If you don’t usually connect Greek yogurt with sensuality, that’s understandable (and probably sane). Just know that one container can provide 20% of your daily value of B12 and up to 17 grams of protein. It’s also a good source of potassium, which keeps your heart healthy and aids circulation — two essential factors in getting hard. And those are only a few of the factors that make it one of our favorite foods; it’s also instrumental in weight loss and management.
Energy-boosting goji berries have been used for thousands of years in Chinese medicine to help increase energy and enhance the release of hormones. Goji increases the body’s ability to handle stress and support healthy mood, mind and memory—all while giving you the get-up-and-go energy needed to get your workout to the next level,” says Dr. Lindsey Duncan, celebrity nutritionist (he’s worked with Tony Dorsett and Reggie Bush). “Goji is also beneficial for increasing blood flow, which helps to oxygenate all of the cells and tissues of the body, including the sex organs, which increases libido—that’s why they call goji the ‘Viagra of China.’”
YOHIMBE BARK EXTRACT
This African tree bark extract sends blood flow to the genitals, says herbalist Ed Smith, a founding member of the American Herbalists Guild, who adds a warning that yohimbe can cause nervousness and raise already-existing high blood pressure (so avoid taking it if you have heart or kidney disease), and can also negatively interact with antidepressants.
Peanuts contain a trove the amino acid L-arginine, which is one of the building blocks of nitric oxide, that gas which aids erections. They also help reduce cholesterol levels. The less cholesterol you have in your system, the easier it is for blood to circulate throughout your body and down to your penis, which can help you maintain a firmer erection longer.
This ancient whole grain is a great addition to your pantry if you’re suffering from quinoa fatigue, but it’ll also help you if things are drooping in the bedroom. Rich in manganese and iron, key nutrients for libido, it also contains all eight essential amino acids, which boost energy levels and support harder erections.
According to historians, ancient Egyptians used garlic to boost their stamina. While they didn’t have modern-day science to confirm that it actually worked, they were most certainly onto something. Researchers have confirmed that consuming the plant helps stop the formation of new fatty deposits, called nanoplaques, inside arterial walls. Yup, that includes the arteries leading to your penis, too. Keep your heart healthy and your erections strong by adding the kitchen staple to your weekly dishes.
As men age, their estrogen levels gradually rise, while testosterone levels fall. Anti-cancer coupounds called indoles can help strike a balance. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are rich in indoles, which boost testosterone production by breaking down and flushing the system of excess estrogen, which inhibits the production of male sex hormones. In one study, supplementing with indole-3-carbinol from cruciferous vegetables for just 7 days cut the estrogen hormone estradiol in half for men. Another study found indole supplementation significantly increased urinary excretion of estrogens.
Turns out that good ol’ P.B. is an aphrodisiac in disguise. It’s rich in two nutrients that are key to good bedroom performance: Niacin (with a quarter of your recommended daily value in two tablespoons) and vitamin E (75% of your DV in that same serving). In a study printed in the Journal of Sexual Health, men suffering from impotence who took a niacin supplement reported a significant improvement in their bedroom prowess compared to men who took a placebo. Peanut butter is also a good source of folate, which improves sperm quality.
The Aztecs referred to avocados as testicles because of their scrotum-like appearance. They were onto something. The green fruit is rich in potassium, vitamin B6 and vitamin E, nutrients that have been associated with increased libido. Plus, avocados’ good monounsaturated fats protect your heart and boost circulation, while their abundant minerals and carotenoids supply energy and stamina.
Once your heart’s racing, strawberries can help get the blood flow where it needs to go. They’re packed with anthocyanins, colorful plant chemicals which help keep your arteries unclogged, boosting circulation and erection quality. Plus, they’re rich in vitamin C, which has been linked to higher sperm counts.
Nature’s ultimate example of truth in advertising, chili peppers bring the heat. They contain capsaicin, a natural chemical that lends spicy food its pleasurable pain and has serious fat-burning and libido-revving benefits. Research has shown that it boosts testosterone and increases circulation — all good news for your erection and what you do with it. Capsaicin also boosts the release of endorphins, which in turn stimulate sexual.