Fertility

Eating for Libido - Is There Any Truth to Aphrodisiacs?

Dr. Kalea Wattles

Table of contents

  • Intro
  • Exploring Aphrodisiac Foods
  • Nutrition and Sexual Health
  • When should you talk to your doctor?
  • The Bottom Line

0 min read

Intro

Aphrodisiac foods have a long history of intriguing humans with their supposed ability to boost desire and enhance sexual performance. The use of food and plant-based remedies designed to increase amorous activity has been referenced throughout time and all over the world. While some aphrodisiac foods are rooted solely in mythology, evidence does show that libido, or sexual desire, is shaped by overall health, which can be affected by what you eat. 

Exploring Aphrodisiac Foods

Foods that have historically been used as aphrodisiacs often have a nutritional composition that supports the physiology of sexual health and vitality. Let’s review some of the most popular foods used throughout time to boost sex drive:


Pomegranate

Pomegranate is a rich source of anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidant compounds that, when consumed long-term, may support erectile performance in men. Further, pomegranate juice enhances nitric oxide production which promotes dilation of blood vessels, supporting healthy blood flow through the pelvic organs.

Oysters

These mineral-rich treasures from the sea are packed with zinc, a nutrient known to support sexual health. In men, optimal Zinc  levels can support libido, testosterone levels, and sperm count.  

Avocado

There’s no doubt that avocado is a great source of nutrients that could support healthy sexual function. The monounsaturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, and antioxidant compounds in avocado have been inversely associated with supporting cardiovascular health, with poor cardiovascular health linked to erectile dysfunction in men.

Apples

Apples are rich in antioxidants, polyphenols, and phytoestrogens. One study of sexually active Italian women, daily apple consumption was associated with increased vaginal lubrication and general support of sexual function.

Chocolate

Chocolate, derived from the cacao bean, is rich in flavonoids and has been found to increase nitric-oxide-mediated vasodilation, with promise for supporting sexual function.


Nutrition and Sexual Health

It is increasingly evident that dietary choices influence sexual health. For example, the Mediterranean diet has received considerable attention related to supporting sexual function. Recognized by the characteristic focus on vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, legumes, olive oil and fish, the Mediterranean diet is packed with antioxidants and fiber. Studies show that adherence to a Mediterranean Diet correlated with healthy sexual function in women and supports a reduced risk for erectile dysfunction in men.

Adequate iron intake also appears to play a role in sexual health, especially for women. Iron deficiency anemia significantly impacts sexual function and satisfaction in women of reproductive age. This information underscores the importance of routine bloodwork, including a complete blood count, serum iron, and ferritin, to screen for anemia in women. 

Further, studies have demonstrated that Vitamin D promotes healthy sexual function. And studies show a connection supporting in various aspects of sexual health, including desire, arousal, lubrication, and orgasm.


When should you talk to your doctor?

While a nutrient-rich diet certainly appears to improve multiple aspects of sexual function, there are many other contributing factors that can be addressed with your healthcare provider. 

  • In both men and women, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism have been associated with sexual dysfunction. Fortunately, sexual function was restored with treatment to normalize thyroid hormone levels.
  • Sexual dysfunction that is also associated with low back pain or changes to bladder control could indicate a herniated disc and warrants a medical evaluation. 
  • Metabolic health plays an important role in sexual health for both men and women. Women with metabolic syndrome may experience lower sexual desire. Sexual dysfunction in men can be an early sign of metabolic syndrome, highlighting the importance of regular health maintenance visits.
  • Hormonal health influences both sexual desire and function. Reduced levels of estrogen and testosterone have been implicated in low libido. 
  • Low libido in men and women may accompany mental health concerns like depression, and early treatment can help to minimize changes to sexual interest and satisfaction.  

The Bottom Line

The allure of libido-boosting foods intertwines historical belief with scientific insights. Research indicates that a nutrient rich diet full of antioxidants, healthy fats, minerals, and dietary fiber can positively influence sexual health. However, it’s crucial to recognize that sexual health is multifaceted, influenced not only by dietary choices, but also by overall physical and mental well-being.

 

Needed does not offer medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The information disseminated on this website or by Needed is not intended to replace medical advice. Before taking any action, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional.
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Dr. Kalea Wattles, ND, IFMCP

Dr. Kalea Wattles is a naturopathic doctor, certified functional medicine practitioner, and founder of Functional Fertility. As an educator, podcaster, speaker, and clinician, Dr. Wattles combines cutting edge science with treasured traditional wisdom, applying a systems biology approach to discover the root cause of fertility struggles. With a deep commitment to advancing the field of functional medicine and improving patient outcomes, her patient-centered approach helps individuals cultivate abundant health for pregnancy and beyond.