The Best Foods for Libido and How They Work

Many things in modern life lower our libido levels. This is especially true with the amount of stress we have in our daily lives. Other lifestyle habits also influence our libido.

But there is evidence that certain lifestyle choices we make can actually have a positive influence on our libido. 

So instead of going for medications that come with their price tag, not only in the form of the money spent on them, but also with some hefty side effects, some people prefer to make the lifestyle changes. These Lifestyle changes, with time, become a regular part of life and ensure the increase of the quality of life immensely.

With that in mind, here is a list of the best foods for increasing sexual performance. 

But before getting to the foods that support a healthy libido, some foods are thought to help libido, but there is actually no scientific backing for this. These foods include chocolate, chasteberry, a mediterranean shrub, honey, and hot chilies. 

On the other hand, the foods I mention now have scientific backing for the claims of helping people have healthier libidos.  

1. Red Ginseng

Ginseng is a common herb in Chinese medicine. It’s been used for centuries for a wide variety of benefits. One type of ginseng, known as red ginseng, is used for the treatment of several ailments, among which are low libido and lowered sexual function. [1] 

Studies show that the consumption of red ginseng can lead to some improvement in erectile function in men and improved sexual arousal in women. [2] [3]

Most people generally tolerate red ginseng well. However, in some people it may cause minor headaches and minor digestive problems like constipation. 

2.  Fenugreek

Fenugreek is a common plant that’s cultivated across the globe, most commonly used among South Asian people for culinary purposes. Fenugreek is also popular as an Ayurvedic medicine for anti-inflammatory and libido-increasing treatment.

There is a basis for this because the plant contains several compounds that our body usually uses to create the hormones estrogen and testosterone. 

Also, studies have found that fenugreek consumption increases sexual arousal, sex drive, and the number of orgasms. [4] [5]

However, it’s important to point out that fenugreek can cause a specific strong body odor that not all people like. 

3.  Ginkgo Biloba

This is an herbal supplement known to act as an aphrodisiac. It has been used in China for centuries for several health benefits, including the increase of sexual function by helping in the relaxation of blood vessels and with the rise in blood flow to sexual organs.

 Several studies support these claims and show that when subjects taking antidepressant drugs also take ginkgo Biloba, the side effect of reduced libido caused by the antidepressant drug becomes irrelevant in 84% of participants. Although other studies have produced sometimes different results. [6] [7] 

Consuming ginkgo Biloba is healthy, and humans generally tolerate it well. 

4. Maca

Maca is a root vegetable grown natively in South America, and has incredible libido-boosting effects. Studies reported that participants experienced enhanced sexual desire after they consumed maca. 

5. Entire Diets Can Help as Well

Besides specific foods, changing your entire diet is helpful, and in fact, it is the best solution for lowered sex drive.

 The American Heart Association recommends a diet that is beneficial for the heart, as what is right for the heart is a diet that prevents the blocking of the arteries with plaque. This is a diet low in saturated fats while being rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients. 

Such a diet is low in animal products that are rich in unhealthy fats and many other harmful compounds that deteriorate the blood vessels and prevent sufficient blood flow to the sexual organs. 

A mostly whole food plant-based diet, which includes a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lots of fiber, nuts, seeds, and legumes, is the healthiest diet for the heart as well as for a healthy libido.

The Mediterranean Diet can be helpful as well, as it mostly follows these same guidelines. However, in recent years, the amount of animal products consumed on the Mediterranean diet has become the same as in most Western world countries, making it unbeneficial for improving one’s libido. 

Although there are plenty of foods that are thought to be good aphrodisiacs, most do not have sufficient scientific backing. The best and surest way to ensure your blood vessels are healthy and to support your libido is taking the uncomfortable, yet sure path and making the transition to a mostly whole food plant-based diet with meat, fish, and eggs making up no more than 10 percent of the diet every week. This means that one should aim to consume up to one meal of fish, one meal of meat and one egg per week with the rest of the diet coming from whole, plant-based foods.

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Dr. Galit Goldfarb

References:

  • [1] West E, Krychman M. Natural Aphrodisiacs-A Review of Selected Sexual Enhancers. Sex Med Rev. 2015 Oct;3(4):279-288. doi: 10.1002/smrj.62. Epub 2015 Nov 10. 
  • [2] Jang DJ, Lee MS, Shin BC, Lee YC, Ernst E. Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Oct;66(4):444-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2125.2008.03236.x. Epub 2008 Jun 9.
  • [3] Oh KJ, Chae MJ, Lee HS, Hong HD, Park K. Effects of Korean red ginseng on sexual arousal in menopausal women: placebo-controlled, double-blind crossover clinical study. J Sex Med. 2010 Apr;7(4 Pt 1):1469-77. doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01700.x. Epub 2010 Feb 5.
  • [4] Rao A, Steels E, Beccaria G, Inder WJ, Vitetta L. Influence of a Specialized Trigonella foenum-graecum Seed Extract (Libifem), on Testosterone, Estradiol and Sexual Function in Healthy Menstruating Women, a Randomised Placebo Controlled Study. Phytother Res. 2015 Aug;29(8):1123-30. doi: 10.1002/ptr.5355. Epub 2015 Apr 24.
  • [5] Steels E, Rao A, Vitetta L. Physiological aspects of male libido enhanced by standardized Trigonella foenum-graecum extract and mineral formulation. Phytother Res. 2011 Sep;25(9):1294-300. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3360. Epub 2011 Feb 10.
  • [6] Cohen AJ, Bartlik B. Ginkgo biloba for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction. J Sex Marital Ther. 1998 Apr-Jun;24(2):139-43. DOI: 10.1080/00926239808404927
  • [7] Wheatley D. Triple-blind, placebo-controlled trial of Ginkgo biloba in sexual dysfunction due to antidepressant drugs. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2004 Dec;19(8):545-8. DOI: 10.1002/hup.627
  • [8] Zenico T, Cicero AF, Valmorri L, Mercuriali M, Bercovich E. Subjective effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) extract on well-being and sexual performances in patients with mild erectile dysfunction: a randomised, double-blind clinical trial. Andrologia. 2009 Apr;41(2):95-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1439-0272.2008.00892.x. PubMed PMID: 19260845.
  • [9] Brooks NA, Wilcox G, Walker KZ, Ashton JF, Cox MB, Stojanovska L. Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content. Menopause. 2008 Nov-Dec;15(6):1157-62. doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3181732953. PubMed PMID: 18784609.
  • [10] Gonzales GF, Córdova A, Vega K, Chung A, Villena A, Góñez C, Castillo S. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. Andrologia. 2002 Dec;34(6):367-72. PubMed PMID: 12472620.
  • [11] Stone M, Ibarra A, Roller M, Zangara A, Stevenson E. A pilot investigationinto the effect of maca supplementation on physical activity and sexual desire in sportsmen. J Ethnopharmacol. 2009 Dec 10;126(3):574-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2009.09.012. Epub 2009 Sep 23. PubMed PMID: 19781622.

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