If you’re looking to kick things up a notch in the bedroom (or elsewhere) this Valentine’s Day, there’s more you can do to get your bae in the mood than just lighting a few candles and playing Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On.”
Nope, there’s no need to buy expensive lingerie. Nor do you need to score a fancy hotel room. (Although, we wouldn’t be opposed to either of those gestures.) To get your partner in the mood, it’s actually a simple—and relatively cheap—gift: food!
You don’t have to take our word for it; there’s a scientific reason why certain foods are guaranteed to turn on your partner. You see, both acts of having sex and eating food activate the pleasure centers of the brain by releasing the mood-boosting hormone dopamine. And it doesn’t just stop there. Food can also elevate your bedroom pleasure by boosting your mood, making you feel better naked, revving your libido, and increasing your enjoyment. So, instead of rush-ordering a bouquet of flowers, jot down a shopping list with these foods and you’ll help to make your sex life sizzle. And before you pair any of these sexy snacks with a box of chocolates, make sure your candy of choice ranks favorably on our list of 45 Popular Valentine’s Day Candies—Ranked!
It’s not particularly arousing to talk about vitamin deficiencies, but we might change your mind when you hear this news: According to Harvard University researchers, a vitamin B12 deficiency has been connected to higher rates of erectile dysfunction. Speculation as to why is based on the fact that the B vitamin plays a big role in cell metabolism and the production of blood—two essential factors in getting and keeping a quality erection. If you’re looking to rev up your energy on your big night, look no further than a delicious bowl of clams with linguine.
Not only does a 3-ounce serving of clams serve up a staggering 1,400 percent of your daily recommended intake of the energy-boosting B vitamin, these bivalves are also high in L-arginine, an amino acid that converts to nitric oxide (NO). This naturally-occurring gas causes blood vessels to relax, facilitating blood flow and helping you (or your partner) to get and stay hard. (In fact, NO is so powerful that it’s the active ingredient in Viagra.)
Peeling a potato will help you and your lover feel more confident when the two of you begin peeling each other’s clothes off. They’re not the most attractive tuber, but potatoes possess a powerful nutrient: potassium. This electrolyte helps regulate fluid balance to flush out extra water and flatten belly bloat. Additionally, potassium boosts vascular circulation—including to your nether regions—which has been found to create feelings of sexual excitement. It’s a win-win!
Break out the wine glasses! Women who drank one to two glasses of the alcoholic beverage had both higher sexual desire and higher sexual function than those who didn’t down any vino, according to a Journal of Sexual Medicine
study. What makes the elixir so beneficial? The grape skin lends a high concentration of flavonoids that increase blood flow to key areas of the body (you know the ones). Just be sure to cut you or your partner off after two: researchers discovered there was no additional benefit to drinking more than two glasses. And, in fact, excessive drinking ranks as one of the 50 Little Things Making You Fatter and Fatter
It’s not just good for melting away belly fat; green tea’s metabolism-boosting compounds, called catechins, will not only speed up the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy, but they also boost sexual desire by promoting blood flow to your lower area. “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,” which, subsequently, leads to a stronger erection in men and more mental energy, higher arousal levels, and quicker transportation of sex hormones between your brain and genitals in women.
Sorry, that milk chocolate ice cream doesn’t count. The difference is that dark chocolate
(go for over 70 percent cacao solids) has the highest levels of antioxidant polyphenols and lowest levels of sugar (which can actually diminish sexual drive and desire). When ingested, cacao increases levels of the mood-boosting hormone serotonin, which can increase energy and euphoria, while lowering stress levels, which ultimately boosts your sexual desire and makes it easier to reach orgasm. And that’s not all: the flavanols in cocoa also increase blood flow through the arteries and relaxes blood vessels, according to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition
. This sends blood to all the right regions—both down below and up high in your brain—which can boost sexual pleasure.
An apple a day may help keep the doctor away, but it won’t keep away your partner! According to an Italian study of 700 women, those ladies who regularly consumed the fruit—which is rich in sex-boosting micronutrients like phytoestrogens, polyphenols, and antioxidants—had more enjoyable and pleasurable sex than those who didn’t.
The myth that oysters are aphrodisiacs actually has some merit. It’s because the shellfish is full of zinc, and studies have found that women with higher levels of zinc in their system have a higher sex drive than those with lower levels. Guys can reap the benefits, too. One study showed that six months of zinc supplementation among slightly zinc-deficient elderly men doubled serum levels of testosterone. You don’t even have to go over budget: Just a half dozen oysters will shell out nearly three times the RDA.
Eating spinach, a low-calorie green, can not only give you a lingerie-ready figure but also put you in the mood by increasing blood flow below the waistline. That’s because Popeye’s favorite leafy green is rich in magnesium, a mineral that decreases inflammation in blood vessels, increasing blood flow. Although that may not sound sexy, you’re sure to enjoy the effects. “Increased blood flow drives blood to the extremities, which can increase arousal and make sex more pleasurable,” says psychotherapist and sex expert Tammy Nelson Ph.D. “Women will find it is easier to have an orgasm, and men will find that erections come more naturally.”
Some of the top reasons couples stop having sex
? Fatigue and stress. “But sometimes, there’s a biological component at play,” says Nelson. One of the causes of fatigue in women is iron deficiency. The condition can zap energy and make you irritable, which may result in a low sex drive, she explains. While it may not happen overnight, consuming more iron-rich meats will help restore energy levels in those suffering from a deficiency. Grass-fed beef is one of your best options. If that’s not reason enough to slice through a steak, consider this: this cut of protein provides the best source of dietary zinc, a mineral found to increase women’s sex drive.
Ginger root, famous for its belly soothing properties, can also improve your sex life by aiding blood flow down to your nether regions. Consuming a mere teaspoon of the stuff a few times a week is all you need to reap the benefits, according to a study in the International Journal of Cardiology. The spice has also been shown to boost levels of testosterone and sperm viability in men.
Here’s yet another reason to savor the yolks: The yellow is rich in dietary cholesterol, a type of fat that actually serves as a building block for testosterone. If your diet is lacking this and other healthy fats, your body won’t be able to synthesize this important hormone. Curious about which carton to pick up at the supermarket? Don’t miss our exclusive report: 26 Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Carton of Eggs
It’s no secret that fatty fish like wild salmon and tuna are overflowing with omega-3 fatty acids, but here’s something you may not know: The macronutrient not only benefits your heart, but it also raises dopamine levels (the feel-good hormone) 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,” adds Nelson.
Celery, of all things, is one seriously sexy stalk. “Celery contains androsterone, a male sex pheromone [a chemical released through sweat], which limited research has shown to increase flirty behavior from females,” explains registered dietitian Keri Gans, MS, RDN. Ingesting the androsterone may cause a dude’s body to send out scented signals that make him more desirable to women while also boosting his own arousal. Looks like you should leave room for a little crudité before dinner!
Awaken your partner’s sensuality with a spoonful of Greek yogurt
—bonus points if you feed it to him or her! A single container can provide you with 20 percent of your daily value of energy-boosting vitamin B12 (to get you ready for what’s about to come) as well as 12 percent of your DV of potassium, the mineral that will help you debloat and pump up circulation: two essential factors in getting it on.
Stress isn’t just bad for those seeking to lose weight, as the emotion can increase levels of the fat-storing hormone cortisol, it can also lower your sex drive and put a damper on your V-day plans. While you should certainly look to tackle the root of everyday stresses, you can also help your partner tackle their anxiety by serving up some strawberries. Just five of these red berries will provide nearly 100 percent of your DV of vitamin C: an antioxidant vitamin that counteracts the cringe-worthy effects of cortisol. Don’t like strawberries? These 32 Foods That Turn off the Stress Hormone That’s Making You Fat
will also do the job.
Ready for a raunchy night? Start your day with a coffee date. According to University of Texas researchers, coffee may just be one of the best libido boosters around. Men who drink two to three cups of java a day are 42 percent less likely to suffer from ED than those who don’t indulge in a cup of joe. Experts believe that a stimulant found in coffee triggers a series of reactions in the body that ultimately increase blood flow to the penis. That same stimulant was implicated in putting females in the mood in a separate study. So, why don’t you grab a cuppa and brace yourself for a long, lucky night?
If you like it hot in bed, look into getting some hot foods on your plate. A recent study by French researchers found that guys who eat the spiciest foods tend to have higher testosterone levels than those with milder palates. The authors of the study attribute the T-boosting effects in part to capsaicin, a compound in chilies that previous research has associated with increased testosterone levels, as well as quercetin, a nutrient shown to boost testosterone levels in the body by reducing the amount that’s otherwise flushed out by the kidneys.
Looking to make things harder? (And, no, we’re not talking about work.) Eating flavonoid-rich foods, like blueberries, is associated with a reduced risk of erectile dysfunction in men, according to a joint study from the University of East Anglia and Harvard University. Of the six main types of flavonoids, three in particular—anthocyanins (found in blueberries), flavanones and flavones (both found in citrus fruits)—offer the greatest benefits in preventing ED. So make sure to top that creamy cheesecake with some fresh berries if you’re looking to get it on later!
Even if it’s not Thanksgiving, you have at least one thing to be thankful for if you’re eating turkey: a boost in your sex drive. The poultry has some of the highest levels of the amino acid arginine: a nutrient that both speeds protein synthesis—helping to build muscle—and converts into nitric oxide in the body. As we mentioned early, NO enables blood vessels to open, which can speed blood flow to your lower half.
If we said “lycopene” you’d probably think about tomatoes. You likely wouldn’t think about watermelon, nor would sex come to mind. Perhaps, now, things will change. The pink fruit actually has 32 percent more lycopene than tomatoes, and lycopene rivals Viagra in its ability to relax blood vessels and improve circulation to certain, ahem, areas of the body. Not to mention, watermelon is also teeming with bloat-banishing potassium to help you flatten your belly before getting it on in bed.