Many of us know it can be in poor taste to eat certain foods ahead of sex. Onions and garlic are deemed so socially offensive in general that Queen Elizabeth has reportedly banned the latter from Buckingham Palace. But there are other foods that benefit our health, as well as our libido. So which should you eat and avoid? Here are 10 foods you should add to your plate, and five you should steer clear from if you’re planning a steamy love sesh.
The key takeaway? As a general rule of thumb, natural whole foods, such as fruits and veggies, are not only good for your overall health, they’re also good for your sex life. By contrast, highly-processed foods can hamper your love life.
Eat this before and after sex: dark chocolate
While science is still out on whether or not aphrodisiacs actually work as promised, this common option is nevertheless good to eat before sex for a few simple reasons: dark chocolate is chalk-full of anandamide and phenylethylamine (PEA), which is known as the love chemical. Both ingredients lift your mood because they release your happy hormones (also known as endorphins).
Phenylethylamine is also responsible for regulating physical energy and attention and is linked to a sense of emotional euphoria, elevating blood pressure and heart rate. Sounds a lot like sex, doesn’t it? However, due to another ingredient — methylxanthines — the energy benefits are unfortunately short-lived so don’t eat it too far ahead of potential sexy time. In addition, a recent 2021 study also found that chocolate can not only stimulate but also simulate sex closely for some women, actually decreasing their desire for sex because researchers hypothesized it can mimic it in our brains.
Eat this before and after sex: avocados
To counter the relatively short-lived effects of chocolate, consider avocadoes. This green fruit is one of those healthy kitchen staples that sustain your energy for the long-haul, and its link to sexual function isn’t a new one; in fact, the word originates from the Nahuatl (language of the Aztec) for testicle. (Yes, you read that correctly.) This link is also backed by nutritionists, who say avocados are loaded with monounsaturated (healthy) fats, minerals and vitamin B6 (responsible for sustaining our energy and sex drive). Not to mention that avocados are also great for your overall wellness, and help keep your skin and other organs healthy.
See also: 10 foods to help with hair growth.
Eat this before and after sex: strawberries
While we’re on avocadoes, let’s also consider the following fruity options to get you in the mood. This fruit salad of good-for-you foods are also oh-so-good for your sex life. Strawberries are not only a sexy-looking fruit (our eyes are naturally drawn to red), but they’re chalk-full of zinc, antioxidants, and vitamin C, which boosts libido. Zinc is crucial to sexual health, and plays a role in both testosterone regulation (what sperm production depends on), but also vaginal lubrication, prepping the female form for sex. It’s actually the strawberry seeds that contain the zinc, and while we don’t eat the seeds in most fruits, strawberries are the exception here.
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Eat this before and after sex: watermelon
While watermelon is super hydrating and certainly delicious to eat before sex, its previous link to having “natural Viagra-like affects” was actually debunked by McGill University. Still, that’s not to say that it isn’t a good go-to, pre-sex. Watermelon contains citrulline which is a known mood-booster, like chocolate.
Eat this before and after sex: apples
This easy snack is a quick way to freshen your breath and remove any food particles from your teeth. If you’re wondering which other fruits to throw into your “sex fruit salad”, bananas, pomegranate seeds and figs are also good for your sexual wellness and drive in the boudoir.
Eat this before and after sex: nuts
Obvious jokes aside, like strawberry seeds, nuts such as cashews and almonds are loaded with zinc, which boast sexual benefits. Additionally, one 2019 study found that including nuts in a regular diet improved orgasmic function and sexual desire in males. Now we just need more research on how diet impacts women’s sexual health.
Eat this before and after sex: ground flax seeds
Seeds (like nuts) are excellent foods to eat for your sexual health and they too are great sources of zinc. Flax seeds are a known superfood, rich in antioxidants and linked to increasing blood flow to your sexy bits. The omega-3s are great for your cardiovascular health, which plays a role in your libido. Amino acids can also boost blood flow and keep sperm healthy. Additionally, researchers report that flax seeds can even have a regulating effect on hormones for menopausal women.
Eat this before and after sex: chia seeds
These tiny seeds are nutritional powerhouses in disguise. They pack a ton of energy to keep you going (and lasting) long throughout the night (or day).
Eat this before and after sex: pumpkin seeds
Like flax seeds, they also pack a lot of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are additionally good for both gynecological and prostate health (in one study, roasted pumpkin seeds have even been linked to improving erectile function in male rats). Additionally, they are full or iron which helps us feel energized, and magnesium, which helps us feel relaxed.
Eat this before and after sex: ginger
Not only does ginger freshen breath, but it has been shown to improve circulation and dilate the blood vessels, which increases blood flow to the genitals, which in turn stimulates arousal.
Avoid these foods before having sex
Bad news for charcuterie boards everywhere: as a general rule, it’s best to avoid highly-processed salty and fatty foods, which can cause cramps and gas. Here are a few other items you should skip.
Avoid this before sex: cheese
While cheese can be a fun finger food to snack on, it’s dairy and, as such, can act as a congestant and mucous-builder for many people (not to mention bloating), leaving many to not feel their best heading into a sex session. Additionally, if the dairy comes from cow’s milk it can include hormones that can mess with our biological systems.
Avoid this before sex: beans
This may be an obvious one, but there’s a reason Bart Simpson sang about beans being the musical fruit… It comes down to beans having high levels of raffinose — a type of carbohydrate that’s poorly digested by the body. Needless to say, gassiness doesn’t help anyone feel sexy, even as the legume is a great plant-based meat alternative, maybe just skip it ahead of sexercise.
Avoid this before sex: too much red wine or other alcohol
While a glass (or two) can certainly reduce inhibitions and lend some liquid courage, having too much can make us sleepy (before ultimately disrupting our deep slumber). However, for men too, drinking too much can affect male sexual function.
Avoid this before sex: black licorice
This may seem like a bizarre addition to this list, but black licorice has been linked to lower testosterone levels and testosterone is strongly linked to sex drive in both men and women.
Related: 21 sex myths everyone thinks are true.
Avoid this before sex: chips
Foods like chips that are high in saturated (bad) fats aren’t ideal for your love life. This is because over time they can hurt your circulation, slow blood flow and impact your sex organ function. Think of it as undoing all the hard work of all those good-for-your-circulation foods we mentioned earlier.
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