6 Types of Food and Drink to Increase Libido

Written by the Manual Team · Medically approved by Dr Earim Chaudry - MD

In 30 seconds…

  • Foods which are high in certain compounds, like nitrates, flavonoids, and other amino acids, can improve erectile function and boost your libido.
  • Having a healthy sex drive relies on having a healthy body and heart, so a balanced diet with plenty of fruit and veg and not too much booze can keep your libido on track. And you should stop smoking, too.
  • Making sure your diet contains a range of vitamins and minerals is a good way to maintain healthy testosterone levels, which is important for keeping your sex drive going.
  • Too much fatty food and alcohol will have a negative impact on your cardiovascular health, which can increase your chances of suffering from erectile dysfunction and having a low sex drive. In addition, an unhealthy diet can inhibit the success of erectile dysfunction treatments.

Low libido can affect all of us at some point or another. Stress, anxiety, poor sleeping habits, and unhappy relationships can all lead to a reduction in your interest in sex.

Being overweight and unhealthy, suffering from serious conditions like heart disease or diabetes, or having low testosterone levels can also make you feel lacklustre in the sack.

If it’s just a blip, try not to worry about it. But if you feel like your libido has taken a backseat for more than a few weeks, it’s probably time to do something about it. And the good news is, you can start in the kitchen.

 

Which Foods Increase Libido?

While the individual foods that can increase libido are many, the compounds contained within, and the reasons why they’re considered aphrodisiac foods, are similar. So that’s how we’ll break it down.

And as you may know, you need to get a good supply of blood to your penis to experience a strong erection — so many of the foods below are also heart-healthy and good for boosting blood flow.

1. Flavonoids

Eat citrus fruits, chilli peppers, onions, apples, berries, grapes, spinach, and dark chocolate.

Flavonoids are chemicals found in plant-based products, which are antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. Many people associate these foods with the Mediterranean diet, which is largely composed of fresh fruit and vegetables and is renowned for being heart-healthy.

Increasing your flavonoid intake through upping the fresh ingredients in your meals will naturally benefit your whole body, and can help you lose weight. All important for those arteries, keeping the blood pumping where you need it.

And before you start loading up on all the chocolatey treats, we’re specifically talking about dark chocolate here. Chocolate with at least 70% cocoa solids is a great antioxidant and contains those famous flavonoids.

What’s also special about the dark stuff is that studies suggest it promotes the release of serotonin in our brains – the feel-good hormone. As such, it can be seen as an aphrodisiac, boosting the moods of the sexually frustrated and setting the scene, psychologically at least, for a fun night in. Medically speaking, it can also help reduce the risk of atherosclerosis (the blocking of arteries with plaque). 

Together, the 6 different types of flavonoids can help keep your cardiovascular system in good nick, manage high blood pressure, and reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. All of which helps keep your blood flow and sex drive healthy. And research suggests that increasing your flavonoid intake by 10mg daily might reduce the risk of developing ED by 7%

 

2. Nitrates

Eat beetroot, spinach, root vegetables, garlic, pine nuts, and watermelon.

Foods that contain high concentrations of nitrates are really important when it comes to getting good erections. It all starts in your head, and when you’re aroused, your brain sends nerve signals to promote nitric oxide-mediated vasodilation of the blood vessels supplying the penis. So, a healthy supply of nitric oxide is needed to get a strong erection. 

Beetroot, spinach and root vegetables are nitrate-rich, so are easily converted to nitric oxide in your body, meaning that when you get the signal, you’re ready to go.

Garlic has high levels of allicin which is a natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory. It can help reduce the risk of heart disease, lower blood pressure and is a natural vasodilator (widens blood vessels). It’s also what gives garlic its ‘pungent’ aroma and taste — so make sure you both eat it, otherwise, your breath will turn into a turn-off!

Pine nuts and watermelon both contain high levels of amino acids which convert into nitric oxide too. 

 

3. Good Fats

Eat avocado, vegetable oils, salmon, tuna and halibut.

Whether it has any relevance in medical science or not, avocados have long been thought of as an aphrodisiac food. This is partly because avocado is derived from the ancient Aztec word, ahuácatl, meaning testicle. 

So much talk in recent years of ‘good fats’ means that avo on toast is now a staple of many a weekend brunch — and we’re not complaining. It’s delicious and, scientifically speaking, avocados are a great source of monounsaturated fats. These keep your heart and arteries healthy, meaning there aren’t any difficulties getting your blood where you need it most when you’re in the mood. 

Fatty fish, such as salmon, tuna and halibut are also a good choice for libido-boosting foods. They’re high in Omega 3 heart healthy fatty acids, which, as the name suggests, are good for your heart. They can help improve blood flow and prevent the buildup of plaque which can cause hardening and blockage in your arteries.

 

4. Herbal Remedies

Try horny goat weed, ginkgo biloba, maca, ginseng, saffron, and fenugreek.

If you’re looking for a different way to boost your libido, these herbal options may (or may not) do the trick. Horny Goat Weed is a flowering plant which contains our favourites – flavonoids. Boosting circulation, this herb, also known as Epimedium, has shown to help erectile dysfunction symptoms and is seen as a traditional aphrodisiac in many Asian countries. 

Maca root from Peru and Korean Ginseng are some other well-known aphrodisiacs from around the world. Both natural nitric oxide boosters, these substances can help improve that all-important blood flow. There’s also a study which showed that Ginkgo biloba, a traditional aphrodisiac originally from China, was found to be 84% effective in treating antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.

Saffron is another old-school aphrodisiac, with stories dating back to Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire. Saffron-infused baths were a popular way to get in the mood, and it was even used as a decoration in the bedrooms of newlyweds to promote a healthy sex life. 

Saffron is the dried stigma of a crocus flower which contains the chemical picrocrocin. This compound is said to increase your libido and make your body more sensitive to the touch, heightening sexual experiences. If it was good enough for Cleopatra, it’s got to be worth a go, right?

And in a small study of healthy men, Fenugreek supplements were shown to have a positive effect on the physiological aspects of libido, boosting performance and sexual arousal(7). It may also contribute to maintaining a healthy testosterone level, so it’s a potential win-win.

 

Which Drinks Increase Libido?

5. Red Wine

The jury is out on whether alcohol can play a positive part of a healthy sex life. While some research suggests even moderate drinking can increase your chance of erectile dysfunction, red wine contains a decent amount of our libido-friendly flavonoid, Quercetin. In moderation, this can help prevent heart disease and controls blood sugar levels. So perhaps a glass or two wouldn’t hurt. There are two sides to every story, so take it easy and see how you go. 

 

6. Teas

While we’ve been talking about how much we love flavonoids, it’s actually too much of one in particular that can make green tea a turn-off when enjoyed to excess. 

Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the flavonoid present in green tea, can actually reduce your testosterone levels, although you would have to drink a lot of it to notice any effects. A moderate intake of green tea can be beneficial, though, thanks to a compound called catechin. Catechin can help get rid of free radicals that can otherwise damage blood vessels, thus promoting healthy blood flow.

And while a nice milky cup of builders brew might not seem like the sexiest thing to get you going, black tea is the one which contains all the good flavonoids to help manage high blood pressure, boost circulation, and keep your immune system healthy too.

 

Testosterone Support
Boost your sex drive

Zinc, Maca and Ginseng are a powerful and scientifically proven threesome when it comes to boosting testosterone and, in turn, virility. One tablet a day to keep your testosterone levels up.
Start from £12

Vitamins can help increase your libido by helping your body produce a healthy level of testosterone. And this plays a huge part in having a healthy body and a healthy sex life.

 

Zinc

Zinc is an essential mineral for regulating testosterone levels. Oysters are famously an aphrodisiac food. Indeed, some may question if anyone would give the slimy little suckers a second glance if it weren’t for the rumour that they could boost your sex life, which, in this case, is true! Oysters have one of the highest concentrations of zinc of any foodstuff.

Zinc isn’t stored in the body, so dietary intake is essential for a whole range of other men’s health benefits, including keeping your hair healthy. If you can’t quite bring yourself to chow down on one of these slippery sea creatures, then chicken, red meat, chickpeas, nuts, and dairy products are great sources of zinc too.

 

Vitamin B6

In a study, thus far only completed on rats, those with Vitamin B6-free diets had lower levels of testosterone by the end of the test period than those able to eat a normal supply. It was concluded that this either showed a correlation between low vitamin B6 intake and low testosterone production(9), or that a diet free of vitamin B6 sped up the rate at which it’s used. Either way, ensuring you have a healthy supply of Vitamin B6 in your diet can’t hurt. Make sure you load up on salmon, chicken breast, tofu, sweet potatoes, bananas or pistachios.

 

Does Eating Affect Libido?

A long term unhealthy diet of fatty foods and too much alcohol will have a negative impact on your overall health, and by extension, your sexual desire and ability. If you’re feeling overweight and physically sluggish, it’s likely you’re not exactly feeling frisky either.

If you keep yourself healthy by eating a diet full of fruit and vegetables, it’s only logical that it will have a positive knock-on effect on your libido. When you eat good, you feel good, and you look good. Having a healthy libido can be as much of a mental game as it is a physical one.

If you’re suffering from erectile dysfunction and your libido is being affected by problems between the sheets, you definitely need to keep on the straight and narrow when it comes to a sex-healthy diet. And by making sure you’re eating plenty of fresh food and limiting your alcohol intake, you’ll ensure your ED meds are working to their full potential too.