The Effects of Diet on the Libido

Diet affects the libido in numerous ways. Some of the effects are simple to understand. Getting enough to eat provides the energy to function sexually. Too much to eat can kill the desire. But diet also affects sexual response in several, lesser-known ways, involving hormone production, blood flow, lubrication and other symptoms of arousal. Just by watching what you eat, you can notice a difference in sexual response.

An appetizer of fresh oysters on a plate with garlic and lemon. (Image: Kheng guan Toh/Hemera/Getty Images)

Symptoms of Arousal

Spicy foods may increase your sex drive because they cause the same symptoms as arousal, such as sweating, increased heart rate and blushing cheeks. People may believe their partner is the one who causes these symptoms and in turn have an increased libido, according to Women's Health advisor Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph. D., reported by MSNBC.


Soy is beneficial to both men and women, as it is helpful to the prostate and to vaginal lubrication. Soy contains isoflavones, plant-derived compounds that affect estrogen levels. Other foods that contain these compounds include "legumes, nuts, apples, celery, cherries and flaxseed," according to

Hormone Production

Other foods may increase libido by aiding in hormone production. "Good" fats contribute to the production of estrogen and testosterone. "Good" fats are found in "salmon, trout, herring, avocados, olives, walnuts and liquid vegetable oils," according to the American Heart Association. Salmon and mackerel are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which also aid in hormone production. Whole grains increase testosterone. Oysters are an aphrodisiac because they aid in producing the hormones testosterone and dopamine.

Blood Flow

Some foods, including chili peppers, ginger, garlic and avocados, can increase blood flow to the genitals. Dark chocolate can also be beneficial. People who eat one or more cubes of dark chocolate each day experience higher libido that than people who don't, according to The Journal of Sexual Medicine, reported by MSNBC. Eating more fruits and vegetables can also increase blood circulation.

Decreasing Libido

On the other hand, some foods can decrease libido. Too much saturated fat can decrease blood flow to the genital region because of clogged arteries, according to Forbes Magazine. Alcohol may also lower sexual response. Low fat diets may have the same effect.

Obesity and Libido

Obese people are 25 times as likely to report being dissatisfied with the quality of their sex life, according to a Duke University study cited in the U.S. News and World Report. Losing weight "results in an increase of testosterone, and thus an increase in sexual function," according to Dr. Ridwan Shabsigh, director of the New York Center for Human Sexuality, quoted in Forbes Magazine.

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