Lifesum, a popular health tracking app based in Sweden, analyzed its user data to find out which foods were most popular to eat before and after sex (within two hours or less). Data came from Germany, France, Sweden, Italy, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Out of 2,563 foods that were tracked, chocolate was the most popular. The second most common foods were, in order:
After sex, folks enjoyed the same foods. But not surprisingly, H2O replaced the wine.
Avoid cheese and bread On the more immediate side of things, cheese and bread don’t digest or absorb well in the body. They’re high in FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols). This means they could lead to high levels of gas or cramps — maybe even during your date!
Frida Harju, a nutritionist at Lifesum, says she wasn’t surprised by the findings. Both chocolate and tomatoes are convenient snacks and rich in feel-good hormones and vitamins.
But do these foods have merit?
“Chocolate is full of anandamide and phenylethylamine, two ingredients that cause the body to release the happy hormones known as endorphins,” Harju explains. She cautions, though, that due to chocolate containing methylxanthines, its energetic benefits are short lived.
As for tomatoes, she reasons, folks most likely logged it before and after sex because they’re so easy to eat at every meal.
Interestingly, 4 out of the 10 most tracked foods consumed before and after sex are known as aphrodisiacs (chocolate, potatoes, coffee, and bananas). But Harju also points out the fact that since these foods were consumed after sex, people most likely didn’t eat them with the intention of promoting sexual desire.
“We are often unaware of the effect food has on the body and mind,” Harju says. She advises to be attentive to how certain foods might affect your desire.
So what should we eat?
While the scientific correlation behind aphrodisiacs stimulating libido is weak, what we do know is that a healthy diet is associated with a lower risk of erectile dysfunction and female sexual dysfunction.
Elaina Lo, a chef and nutritional health coach at Your Food as Medicine, says there are a number of foods that can actually enhance your sex life. They can do so by keeping your heart healthy and pumping blood to the right places.
Lo recommends integrating these five foods to your daily routine to make you feel good and ready for the bedroom.
1. Ground flax seeds
This superfood is known for its rich antioxidant properties and for increasing blood flow to the sexual organs. Flax seeds keep you vibrant, as they contain lignans. These are estrogen-like chemicals that have antiviral, antibacterial, and anticancer properties.
Flax seeds are also a good source of:
- Omega-3 fatty acids.Omega-3s can improve cardiovascular health, a plus for libido.
- L-arginine. This amino acid can boost blood flow and keep sperm healthy.
This delicate seafood is rich in zinc, a key mineral for sexual maturation. Zinc helps your body produce testosterone, a hormone linked with sexual desire. It also helps synthesize thyroid hormones, necessary for having energy.
Of course, you can’t expect immediate results just by eating six raw oysters. But oysters do contain the nutrients critical for sexual function.
- Baste oysters with a red wine mignonette. Best to eat them raw.
- Eat them bloody mary-style and get your dose of vitamin-rich tomatoes.
3. Pumpkin seeds
Pumpkin seeds, like oysters, arepacked with zinc. They’re also a great source of magnesium. They contain antioxidative, antihypertensive, and cardioprotective nutrients, all essential for optimal sexual health.
The omega-3 fatty acids in pumpkin seeds may help with gynecological and prostate health. Omega-3s are known to reduce inflammation in the body.
Pumpkin seeds are rich in:
- iron, necessary for feeling energized
- zinc, associated with boosting immunity
- magnesium, essential for relaxation
- Sprinkle a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds in your strawberry yogurt parfait.
- Top your zucchini noodles with a healthy pumpkin seed pesto.
- Make green pipian, a popular Mexican pumpkin seed sauce.
4. Pomegranate seeds
Pomegranate seeds are packed with polyphenols. Polyphenols are compounds associated with decreased risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. They’re also thought to relax blood vessels and increase the delivery of blood to the brain and heart.
If polyphenols can help increase blood to these parts, why not to other parts below the waistline, too?
Pomegranate seeds are high in:
- polyphenols, which can protect your immune system and uplift your mood
- micronutrients, which provide the building blocks for making sex hormones
- flavones, which are important for erectile health
- vitamin C, which decreases stress and gives you stamina
- Serve yourself some pomegranate juice over ice for a refreshing afternoon drink. A small study suggests pomegranate juice may improve erectile dysfunction.
- Make your walnut spinach salad pop by tossing in a small handful of these sweet and sour jewels.
- Add these tiny but powerful antioxidants to a homemade baba ghanoush.
Fun facts aside, avocados are really good for the testicles, or at least what comes out of them. Versatile and nourishing, avocados are loaded with vitamin E. Vitamin E is a key antioxidant that widens blood vessels, potentially lowering the risk for cardiovascular disease. It may also reduce sperm DNA damage.
Avocados are also rich in:
- vitamin B-6, which helps keep your nervous system in balance
- potassium, which powers up your libido and energy
- monounsaturated oleic acid, which supports circulation and makes your heart healthy
- Vitamin E is very sensitive to heat and oxygen, so it’s best to eat your avocados raw.
- Lather it on your sprouted toast.
- Toss it in your kale salads.
- Make a dip out of it.
It’s best to avoid deep-frying avocado, like in fried avocado tempura or avocado egg rolls. This is because heat diminishes their nutritional value.
Should you avoid charcuterie boards on dates?
To stay on cloud nine, maintain your after-sex glow, and avoid a slump, Lo recommends avoiding processed foods. “It is best to limit foods that are high in salt and sugar, and monitor fat intake to keep your blood flow and circulation going strong,” she tells Healthline.
A glass of romantic, mood-setting wine is a delicate dance. On one hand, it might get your heart pumping with antioxidants. But too much might make you sleepy. A study has also found that people were more likely to report sexual dysfunction and after-sex regret after alcohol use.
While many people, according to Lifesum’s results, opted for bread and cheese, it’s hard to say how these foods increase sexual libido, since they’re more known for causing cramps and gas.
Of course, the results are very dependent on individuals: A 2015 Time article reported that grilled cheese lovers have more sex, while a 2018 study found a correlation between a lower intake of diary and reduced erectile dysfunction.
Overall, research has shown that those who prefer a diet composed of nuts, fish with high omega-3 fatty acids, fruit, and leafy greens are more likely to feel more active, want to be erotically stimulated, and experience sexual pleasure. Enjoying a healthy sexual appetite involves many factors — especially being mindful about how you nurture yourself in and out of the kitchen.
“By starting your day with whole foods that are high in levels of nutrient key minerals, powerful antioxidants, and vitamins responsible for enhancing your body’s sex hormones, you are likely to feel more energized to initiate or accept your beau’s bid for sexual affection,” Lo says.
Janet Brito is an AASECT-certified sex therapist who also has a license in clinical psychology and social work. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship from the University of Minnesota Medical School, one of only a few university programs in the world dedicated to sexuality training. Currently, she’s based in Hawaii and is the founder of the Center for Sexual and Reproductive Health. Brito has been featured on many outlets, including The Huffington Post, Thrive, and Healthline. Reach out to her through her website or on Twitter.