Will the fire sparked by Valentine’s Day disappear tomorrow? Maybe not, if you and your partner keep eating certain foods—and that advice comes from a doctor! It being Valentine’s Day, I called Meryl Rosofsky, MD, adjunct professor in the department of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University in New York City. Dr. Rosofsky has a special interest in foods that can help people’s love lives—in fact, she was research consultant for the documentary film Aphrodisiacs: Magic or Medicine? for Discovery Health, and she is the creator of a culinary aphrodisiac walking tour given by The Institute of Culinary Education in New York City.
Now back to food and your sex life. Dr. Rosofsky admits that the scientific literature on this topic is limited and often contradictory. “There isn’t enough data out there to say precisely how much of a certain food to eat or how often you should eat it to become more aroused or to ‘perform better’,” said Dr. Rosofsky. “For example, whether or not you’re deficient in a certain nutrient can affect how much of that particular substance you need to eat to feel an effect.” The good news is that means you can just relax and eat some. Try upping your intake of some of the following foods over the weeks and months to come, and see for yourself what works and what doesn’t…
Truffles, the rare fungi found only underground, are so expensive that it may be exciting just to think about having them—but more to the point, they contain androstenol, a pheromone that gets released in sweat and that can increase sexual desire in both men and women who smell it. Dr. Rosofsky doesn’t know of any research proving that truffle oil has the same physiological benefit, but she said that the look and smell of it can be exciting.
Parsnips, dates, almonds and hazelnuts. These are recommended for their high level of the mineral boron, which studies have shown enhances levels of testosterone—therefore, these foods may increase sex drive in both men and women.
Oysters. Yes, it’s true—oysters, the legendary aphrodisiacs, actually can make sex better. One way they do this is by providing the mineral zinc—more of it per ounce than any other food—and zinc is essential for smooth, healthy-looking skin that other people will want to touch. Zinc helps skin cells regenerate and maintain collagen and elasticity. Plus, men and women may find that oysters increase their sex drive—possibly because zinc is a necessary building block for testosterone. You’ll get the most benefit from raw oysters, because cooking reduces some of their many nutrients.
Salmon and other cold-water fish, such as sardines and mackerel, are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which increase blood circulation all over the body (including in the genital region) —and that, of course, helps bring erections and better orgasms. “Plus, omega-3s have antidepressant properties, so they could also be a sex enhancer because of their positive effect on mood,” said Dr. Rosofsky.
Dark green vegetables. Fill up on Swiss chard, spinach and broccoli. They contain vitamins, including biotin (vitamin B-7), vitamin C and vitamin A, that help keep your hair shiny and more healthful looking—a turn on for both sexes.
Chocolate. I know you were waiting for this. Chocolate stimulates the release of “feel good” neurotransmitters (like serotonin), so it can help put you in the mood. It also contains chemicals called phenylethylamine and anandamide that are associated with feelings of love or euphoria, said Dr. Rosofsky. Also, antioxidants called flavonoids are plentiful in cocoa bean solids, and flavonoids stimulate the production of nitric oxide, increasing blood flow throughout your body, which can lead to better erections and orgasms. For the highest amount of flavonoids, eat dark chocolate rather than milk chocolate.