Does dutch courage help or hinder? Can chillies spice up your sex life? Will oysters help heat things up or just leave you with a bad aftertaste? We explore the myths and misconceptions around food

When it comes to setting and 'getting in the mood', some foods have become more popular than others – known as aphrodisiacs. But if these foods have such a potent effect on our sex lives and libido, wouldn’t they all be sell-out successes?

In day-to-day life, most of us appreciate a good shortcut – we’ve all got enough responsibilities, things on our to-do list, and stress on our shoulders, so why wouldn’t we jump at a quick fix where we can? Whether it’s scooting around the wrong corner to get that last parking space, or getting your must-have fashion advice from the current hot influencer, most of us will take an easy win to save time where we can. And, funnily enough, it’s the same when it comes to sex.

It’s not really something we think about in that way, is it? But really, aprodisiacs and quick libido-boosting superfoods can be seen as just another way to patch up deeper-seated problems when we could be asking ourselves why we aren’t in the mood, or why that four nights a week (and twice on Fridays) habit has dropped to once a fortnight at best.

Knowing our libidos naturally change throughout our lifetimes – which can be due to periods of stress, alcohol use, menopause, hormone levels, medicines, and a host of other factors, is all well and good. But what if you’re looking for natural ways to rekindle those feelings of desire without resorting to little blue pills? There may be no such thing as ‘normal’ when it comes to sex,but that doesn’t help diminish those feelings of frustration and worry in times when your libido takes a dip.

While certain nutrients within foods can have beneficial effects, making sure you have a balanced diet, lead an active lifestyle, and look after your mental health are all imperative to creating a happier, healthier sex drive.

But when the shortcuts are tempting, it’s important to know which libido-boosting foods are simply myths and misconceptions. So, here we’re sharing some of the best ways you can actually boost your sex life (without resorting to the latest fads).

Are oysters an aphrodisiac?

Arguably one of the most notorious aphrodisiacs, reported to have been used by the Romans, for what was believed to be their alluring properties, modern-day studies have shown no real impact on our overall levels of desire when it comes to oysters. But, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t without their benefits; research has shown that oysters are full of zinc, an essential nutrient for testosterone production. Thanks to their high zinc levels, eating oysters may be able to help increase sperm quality, as reported in the Journal of Reproduction & Infertility.

So shellfish might not be the sex-drive solution it’s been made out to be. But, as a general rule, if you’re looking to help increase male fertility and sperm quality, or to decrease your overall levels of stress and boost your mood (and immune system), ensuring you get enough zinc could be key. Good sources of zinc include:

  • Lean red meat
  • Cashews or almonds
  • Pumpkin or sunflower seeds
  • Legumes and whole grains
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Fresh ginger
  • Shellfish

Will chillies help heat things up in the bedroom?

Lovers of spicy food can rejoice; eating hot chillies can create a ‘chilli high’, thanks to the release of endorphins brought about by their capsaicin content. Research published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry has shown eating hot chillies can release endorphins, speed up your metabolism, and increase your heart rate.

While chomping down on chillies chillies won’t necessarily work for everyone, they are still a great source of antioxidants, full of vitamin A, iron and potassium. Just remember to wash your hands (and rinse your mouth out) thoroughly before taking things to the bedroom, or those cries of passion could turn into something less pleasant.

Dutch courage or desire damper?

Having a glass or two of champagne may help to lower our inhibitions, set the mood, and give us a false sense of confidence, but it can also reduce sexual sensitivity, decrease your sex drive, interrupt your sleep patterns, and even cause impotence.

A glass of red wine may have some benefits, but recent studies such as one
published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal,have shown women who quit drinking alcohol are happier and have better mental wellbeing. In fact, after four years of not drinking, women saw improvements to their wellbeing that were comparative to those who had always abstained. If you’re worried about how much you’re drinking and how it may be impacting other areas of your life, there are some small changes you can make to lower how much you drink throughout the week, week – such as setting yourself goals that
gradually decrease your consumption, and removing temptation by buying less
alcohol for your home. Or check out these suggestions from a Counsellor on how you can give up alcohol and deal with the cravings.

Does dark chocolate boost sexual health?

Who doesn’t love a bit of chocolate? While many of us have heard of the benefits of dark chocolate (when eaten in moderation), can it really help our sexual health? Some believe dark chocolate can help improve blood flow, boost your mood, and increase energy. Containing a small amount of phenylethylamine (PEA), the ‘love chemical’ released during the first few months of a relationship, PEA helps release dopamine in the pleasure centre of your brain. However, due to the small amount present in dark chocolate, there are doubts over whether it can truly have an effect when eaten.

The good news is, dark chocolate can help reduce your risk of having a stroke or developing coronary heart disease. Eating a little dark chocolate as part of a healthy, balanced diet can also help reduce stress. Not a specific plus point for your sexual health, perhaps, but any reason to include a little chocolate as part of our routine counts as a win in our books.

Can watermelon increase arousal?

Rich in non-essential amino acid citrulline (which helps relax and dilate blood vessels to combat erectile dysfunction), it sounds like we could be onto a winner with watermelon, right? Unfortunately, most citrulline is found in the rind of watermelons, meaning you’d have to eat a lot of watermelon to even potentially see any impact.

Still, eating watermelon has its benefits: high in vitamins C and A, and since it’s composed of more than 90% water, it can also be great in helping you stay hydrated.

To learn more about how food and nutrition can affect your sex drive, impact your mood, and improve your overall sense of wellbeing, visit the Nutritionist Resource to find an experienced Nutritionist near you.