The term “aphrodisiac” tends to have cheesy connotations, but there’s serious science behind functional foods. “A nourishing, whole food diet leads to more energy, increased stamina, and overall strength,” explains Whitney Tingle and Danielle DuBoise of organic meal delivery program Sakara Life. “Cutting the rubbish out of your diet—we’re talking overly processed grains, dairy, meat, and sugar—also removes toxins that hinder your sex drive on a hormonal and chemical level.”
Beyond oysters, studies suggest there are a ton of everyday fruits, vegetables, spices, and herbs that are proven to rev up your libido. From endorphin-boosting chili peppers to sex hormone–stimulating beets, Tingle and DuBoise explain exactly what to eat and how to incorporate it into your diet to reap the benefits.
Add these six science-backed foods to your grocery list to improve your health and your sex life. Your future self will thank you.
“Spicy foods contain the compound capsaicin, which helps boost circulation, release feel-good endorphins and fire you up!” explains Tingle. If you’re not partial to peppers, she says cayenne pepper has similar health benefits.
Sneaky serving tip: “Season your roasted veggies with a dash of cayenne or add chopped chili peppers to your next curry or stir-fry,” she recommends. Alternatively, hide your salt shaker for a week and reach for these healthy flakes instead.
Chocolate lovers, rejoice: This indulgent food also has serious health benefits. “It boosts levels of the calming brain chemical serotonin to help you feel relaxed,” explains DuBoise. “It also stimulates the release of dopamine, a feel-good neurotransmitter.” Before you raid the vending machine, Tingle and DuBoise warn that not all cacao products contain these benefits. Instead, opt for good-quality dark chocolate—they recommend Dick Taylor and Zenbunni.
Sneaky serving tip: Dark chocolate can be bitter, so DuBoise recommends balancing it with sweet dishes. “Add raw cacao powder to smoothies or sprinkle cacao nibs into coconut yogurt for a treat.”
Beets do far more than add a hint of color to your salad or juice. “They contain the trace mineral boron that boosts sex hormones, as well as nitrates that improve circulation, or, in other words, get that blood flowing.”
Sneaky serving tip: “Shred or slice them thinly and add to a salad, or blend steamed beets into homemade hummus,” recommends Tingle.
Experts believe your favorite brunch order could benefit your libido. While more peer-reviewed studies are needed, Tingle and DuBoise point out that avocado “contains healthy fats to help regulate hormones, as well as energizing vitamin B6.” It’s also rich in vitamin E, which helps maintain healthy levels of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone.
Sneaky serving tip: “Try blending it with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper to make a creamy salad dressing,” says DuBoise.
If you haven’t heard of ashwagandha, it’s time to get acquainted with this ancient healing herb. It’s pronounced ash-wa-gan-da, and Tingle and DuBoise describe it as “a stress-fighting, stamina-increasing, libido-boosting ancient super herb” that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries.
Sneaky serving tip: Available in capsule or powder form, ashwagandha can be sprinkled on food or taken as a supplement. Tingle and DuBoise say they “add a little bit to smoothies, coffee, tea or warm almond or coconut milk.”
Recognized as a rich source of protein, calcium, and magnesium, Brazil nuts can also benefit your sex drive, according to Tingle. “[They] contain selenium to boost testosterone levels—the highest level of any food,” she reveals.
Sneaky serving tip: Dice the nuts and add them to homemade granola, or “mix raw Brazil nuts with cacao nibs and unsweetened dried fruit for a quick DIY trail mix.”