Having a healthy sex drive is linked to feeling physically and emotionally healthy, so it’s no surprise that the foods you eat play a role in boosting your sex life.

A nutritious diet can benefit your sex life in many ways:

  • boosting your libido
  • improving blood flow and heart health
  • improving your stamina

Eating a diet rich in vegetables and lean proteins — and low in foods that contain sugar and saturated fat — can also help to prevent disorders that affect your libido, like metabolic syndrome and hormonal conditions.

These seven foods are packed with nutrients that can perk up your libido and may improve your overall health, too.

You’ve probably heard about the aphrodisiac properties of oysters.

The reason for this is that oysters are high in zinc. This compound increases blood flow, which may aid blood flow to the sex organs.

Zinc may be especially important in male fertility, as it helps regulate testosterone levels.

According to a 2018 review, zinc deficiency has a negative effect on testosterone levels.

Oysters contain more zinc than any other food source, with one serving providing 673% of your daily value.

If you’re not a fan of mollusks, try lobster or crab instead. Both types of shellfish are loaded with zinc.

Non-seafood sources of zinc include:

  • beef
  • pork
  • baked beans
  • pumpkin seeds
  • cereals fortified with zinc
Summary

Oysters are rich in zinc. Eating high-zinc foods could boost your sex drive by helping to improve blood flow and hormone levels.

Eating meats, or other foods that contain specific amino acids, could help improve your sex life.

Various high-protein foods — including beef, chicken, and pork — contain compounds that help to improve blood flow, such as:

  • carnitine
  • L-arginine
  • zinc

Smooth blood flow is crucial to sexual response in people of all genders.

In particular, a 2019 review suggests that arginine supplements could help treat mild to moderate erectile dysfunction (ED).

Keep in mind, though, that eating too much red meat can be bad for your heart.

Serve up some animal-based protein (in moderation, to avoid increasing the risk of heart disease) to help keep all systems running smoothly in the bedroom.

If you’re following a vegetarian diet, you can get these nutrients from whole grains and dairy products, including milk and cheese.

Carnitine and L-arginine are amino acids found in various high-protein foods. Whole grains and milk are especially good sources of zinc.

Summary

Certain high-protein foods, including meat, contain amino acids that improve blood flow. Some amino acids may even help treat ED.

Salmon is well known for having heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

The pink-fleshed fish, as well as sardines, tuna and halibut, could play a role in keeping your body, and your sex life, healthy.

Omega-3s help prevent the buildup of plaque in your arteries, according to a 2017 review. This promotes healthy blood flow throughout your body.

Keeping the circulatory system working smoothly reduces the risk of certain diseases that impair sexual function.

A large 2020 Cochrane review says that omega-3 fatty acids slightly reduce the risk of coronary heart disease events and death, and reduces triglycerides (fats) in the blood.

Fish is also a great source of protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, and iron. It also contains zinc.

To help keep your heart and body healthy, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend getting at least two servings of fish per week.

Summary

Fatty fish like salmon keep your heart healthy, promoting healthy blood flow around the body.

Instead of candy, try snacking on a handful of nuts and seeds.

Cashews and almonds are chock-full of zinc, while a host of healthy snacks contain L-arginine to get your blood flowing.

Try the following:

  • walnuts
  • pumpkin seeds
  • sunflower seeds
  • pecans
  • hazelnuts
  • peanuts

Walnuts are doubly helpful, as they are also rich in omega-3s.

Summary

Nuts and seeds contain compounds, including zinc, L-arginine, and omega-3s that could help increase your sexual function.

Apples are rich in a compound called quercetin. This antioxidant, a type of flavonoid, may offer a number of health benefits.

As far as sex goes, quercetin plays a role in:

  • promoting circulation
  • treating ED
  • managing the symptoms of prostatitis

A 2016 review reports that quercetin can successfully lower blood pressure at doses greater than 500 mg per day.

High blood pressure can lead to sexual dysfunction because blood vessel damage impairs blood flow to the genitals. This is one cause of ED.

In fact, a 2016 study reported a 14% reduction in ED in males who had a higher fruit intake. This may be due to their flavonoid content.

In females, high blood pressure can lead to a lower libido and less interest in sex, particularly if it causes fatigue. Lower blood flow to the vagina can affect how their body responds to sexual activity.

Overall, a diet rich in flavonoids to boost your overall health and keep your sex life healthy.

Healthful foods rich in flavonoids include:

  • apples
  • strawberries
  • blueberries
  • dark-colored grapes
  • red wine
  • cherries
  • citrus fruits
Summary

Antioxidants in fruits (as well as vegetables), called flavonoids, can help manage high blood pressure and treat conditions linked with sexual function, like ED.

Beetroots are rich in antioxidants and vitamins, making a healthful addition to any diet. They’re also high in dietary nitrates, which means they could help boost your sex life.

Dietary nitrates expand the blood vessels, a process known as vasodilation, which improves blood flow. This has beneficial effects on muscle contraction. Because of this, some athletes use nitrates to boost performance.

Some studies even suggest that just one dose of beetroot juice, or doses over a few days, could improve people’s performance at intermittent, high-intensity exercise, with short rest periods.

Research also suggests that the dietary nitrates from beetroot juice can help manage blood pressure. The researchers say this can benefit people with healthy blood pressure and those with hypertension.

These same mechanisms could, in theory, also help to improve blood flow and stamina during sex, while improving your heart health overall.

Other foods high in nitrates include:

  • spinach
  • arugula, also known as rocket
  • cress, also known as garden cress
  • lettuce
  • celery
  • radish
Summary

Nitrate-rich foods, like beets and beet juice, can help manage blood pressure and improve circulation.

Like apples, red wine contains quercetin, an antioxidant that boosts blood flow.

A 2009 study involving 798 women found that regular, moderate intake of red wine was linked with higher sexual desire, lubrication, and overall sexual function.

Researchers noted that drinking more than two glasses of red wine daily or indulging in other types of alcoholic beverages didn’t produce the same results.

That said, drinking wine, or any alcohol, in excess can have the opposite effect, leading to sexual dysfunction.

Summary

Drinking red wine in moderation might increase sexual desire and function, though drinking an excess can have the opposite effect.

While certain foods can keep your blood pumping and boost hormone levels, diet alone isn’t always enough to improve your sex life.

Talk to your doctor if lack of desire, pain during intercourse, or impotence is holding you back from enjoying an intimate relationship with your partner.