In my travels, I've been asked about foods that can help enhance sexual health and improve sexual performance. While I can name foods that are high in antioxidants, loaded with healthy omega-threes and filled with calcium, potassium and vitamin D, I really wasn't sure which foods are good for better sex.
So I asked John La Puma, MD (ChefMD) to suggest some foods that can help set the stage for a happier, healthier love life. In fact, to help stimulate sexual health, Dr. La Puma is a fan of foods commonly associated with the Mediterranean diet...in fact, the whole Mediterranean Diet.
Recognized for its ability to help improve heart health, the Mediterranean Diet also can help kick-start a flagging libido.
What is the Mediterranean Diet?
Truthfully, there is no one "Mediterranean" diet; at least 16 countries border the Mediterranean sea. Diets between these countries vary due to differences in culture, ethnic background, religion, economy and agricultural production. But the common Mediterranean dietary pattern consists of these five characteristics: (source: American Heart Association)
- A high consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain breads and cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds
While studies show that the Mediterranean Diet can help overcome erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotence in men with metabolic syndrome, the Mediterranean Diet is a healthful diet for men with and without metabolic syndrome, and with or without sexual dysfunction.
According to the CDC, about 34% of U. S. men have metabolic syndrome.
- High blood pressure
What does the Mediterranean diet do for sex?
For men with metabolic syndrome, about one-third of all U.S. men, the diet helps to overcome erectile dysfunction (ED), or impotence.
In fact, studies show that one-third of these men with ED cure their problem after following a Mediterranean-style diet, combined with exercise, for two years. Over 100 million men have ED worldwide.
No one knows with certainty how the Mediterranean Diet works, says Dr. La Puma, but because it reduces whole body inflammation and CRP (C-reactive protein) measurements, and improves endothelial (arterial lining) function, researchers think the Diet improves blood flow.
Belly fat, a big part of the metabolic syndrome, lowers testosterone levels. Losing that fat might improve androgen levels and improve the elasticity of blood vessels. By choosing foods on the Mediterranean Diet, it's possible to have better erections. "Less inflammation, better flow, better hormone levels, better erections," says Dr. La Puma.
What is it about Mediterranean diet foods that make them so powerful?
Beans, legumes and seeds, especially kidney beans, peanuts and sunflower seeds are rich in arginine. This amino acid allows blood vessels to dilate (widen) and increase blood flow to the sexual organs.
You might also consider eating walnuts to help enhance sexual performance (not drive), especially after consuming a fatty meal. Walnuts can protect the arteries from constricting and responding abnormally to exercise and exertion. "Dosage: Take 8 walnuts with your meal, 4 hours before sex, " says Dr. La Puma.
To spice up your love life, ChefMD recommends the following Mediterranean Diet recipe: