It is somehow funny that matters of the “heart” have a link nutritionally to the matters of the actual heart, the organ. In other words nutrition, which is good for the heart, is said to be good for a person’s sex life. The American Heart Association recommends a diet that includes:
- Plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Variety of whole grains (means to increase dietary fibre intake)
- Healthy fats such as nuts, cooking oils e.g. olive oil and seeds
- Lean & good quality protein such as Seafood, especially varieties of fish
This is a diet that science has supported for heart health and it is also linked to sexual health. This is because the circulatory (heart) system that is in good working order is essential for sexual health. Better blood circulation can lead to an improved sexual response in men and women. This is especially true for the erectile response and cardiac health is important for stamina. Foods featured in a heart-healthy diet, such as avocados, vegetables, nuts, seafood, and fruit, have associations with better sex in both traditional medicine and scientific research.
Low libido is mostly seen in women due to their constant hormonal changes. However, this is a common problem in men too. There are many nutrients that play a vital role in sexual health such as zinc, which is a mineral the body needs every day for many vital functions, such as cell metabolism, stamina, and regulation of levels of male sexual reproductive hormones (Testosterone). Foods that can help people improve their libido are commonly called aphrodisiacs, after Aphrodite, the ancient Greek goddess of love. Oysters and many shellfish are among the most famous aphrodisiacs in history. Their effects may be due to their zinc content. Luckily there are also many zinc food sources that one can include in their diet to help improve libido, such as red meat, legumes, nuts, seeds, and variety of vegetables.
2. Erectile Dysfunction
When a person has difficulty getting and maintaining an erection, doctors refer to it as ED which is short for Erectile dysfunction. It is a very common condition amongst men and understanding the physical, mental, and emotional factors that contribute to ED can help you choose a diet that promotes better sex. There are many factors that contribute to ED such as problems with blood flowing into and staying in the penis, damage to nerve centres in the penis, side effects of medication, radiation, and other medical treatments, depression, anxiety, and stress.
Nutrition has a role to play in prevention and sometime even supports treatment for ED. Research shows that foods that help promote blood circulation have an important role to play. For example, foods rich in flavonoids such as berries, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, red wine, teas (e.g. green tea) and cocoa products are recommended. Foods high in nitrates such as beets or beetroot and green leafy vegetables to name a few, are also key due to nitric oxide which is a by-product of nitrates and may be beneficial to prevent ED by increasing blood flow and vasodilation.
Stamina can mean many things, but when it comes to sex, it often refers to how long a person can last in bed. This is very much individualised but for males, the average time between the sheets is anywhere from two to five minutes and females can go longer (average 20 minutes).
Some of the nutrients that are important for males:
- L-Arginine: An amino acid that helps with blood flow and of course helps build protein.
Food sources: red meat, fish and poultry, soy, whole grains, beans milk, yogurt, and other dairy products.
- Magnesium: A nutrient that plays a key role in everything from energy to brain function, resulting in low energy and stamina if magnesium is deficient.
Food sources: nuts, dark chocolate, avocado, legumes/whole grains, seeds, banana, some fatty fish.
- L-Citruline: An amino acid that helps with blood flow, stamina and may help with ED.
Food source: watermelon, onions and garlic, legumes and nuts, salmon and red meat, dark chocolate.
In conclusion, adopting good nutritional practices, can help boost male sexual health. It is not just one nutrient that supports good sexual health but a collaboration of nutrients. It is very important to note that sexual desire is complex and has to do with many more factors than just nutrition, including an individual’s relationships, stress levels, and personal preference.
- Aim for a balanced diet with good quality protein, whole grains, and plenty of vegetables
- Maintaining a healthy weight is important especially the abdominal area
- Drinking alcohol in moderation, limiting intake of sugary drinks and drinking plenty of water is important
- Keep active – helps to keep good blood flow and
- With the help of a healthcare professional, one can use an array of dietary or herbal supplements to support their diet.
Yours in health