A low sex drive affects about 20 percent of men and even more women at some point, according to the U.K.'s National Health Service. Many factors can contribute to a reduced libido, including pregnancy, illnesses, certain medications, sleep loss and emotional stress. In addition to managing underlying causes, certain foods can help strengthen your libido and your overall health. If your symptoms are long-lasting or severe, seek guidance from your doctor.
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Beans and Lentils
Beans and lentils provide valuable amounts of fiber and protein, with no saturated fat or cholesterol. A diet low in fiber and high in saturated fat, which is prevalent in animal protein sources such as fatty meats and cheeses, contributes to artery blockage and poor circulation, both of which make physical arousal less likely. For a healthier sex life, registered dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick recommends replacing at least some of the red meat in your diet with plant protein sources. Replace half of the ground beef in your chili with pinto or garbanzo beans, for example. When dining out at a Mexican restaurant, have a bean and veggie burrito instead of pork and cheese.
Fruits and Vegetables
A study published in the "International Journal of Impotence Research" in 2007 showed that women with metabolic syndrome who ate a Mediterranean-style diet for two years tended to eat significantly more fruits and vegetables and have better sexual function than women of similar health status who did not. Colorful fruits and vegetables, such as berries, carrots and kale, are rich in antioxidants, which help keep your immune system strong, lowering your risk for illnesses that can tank sex drive. Kirkpatrick recommends replacing low-nutrient snack foods, such as pretzels and candy, with fresh produce. Doing so can improve your arterial health, making sexual arousal and satisfaction more likely.
Fatty Fish and Flaxseeds
Flaxseeds and fatty fish, such as salmon and mackerel, are top providers of omega-3 fatty acids. These anti-inflammatory fats are crucial for improved sex drive, according to Dr. Jennifer Berman, a urologist and sexual health expert. They can also improve your mood, which is often key for arousal. Low in saturated fat, fish also provides a heart-healthy alternative to fatty meats, such as steak and cheeseburgers. Consume ground flaxseeds on their own or as healthy additions to foods such as smoothies and yogurt, keeping seed you don't consume refrigerated for freshness.
Whole-grain cereals, such as oatmeal and whole-grain bran flakes, provide valuable amounts of heart-healthy fiber and B vitamins, which can enhance sex drive. Kirkpatrick recommends choosing 100 percent whole-grain cereals low in added sugars and fortified with zinc, which she calls "one of the best sex-drive enhancers around." Zinc helps preserve the sex hormone testosterone, and zinc deficiency raises men's risk for impotence. When purchasing cereals, make sure whole grains, such as oats, whole wheat or brown rice, are listed as main ingredients.
- National Health Service: Loss of Libido (Sex Drive)
- Eat Right Ontario: Cooking With Legumes
- Cleveland Clinic: Lost Your Libido? 6 Smart Diet Choices to Get It Back
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- The Doctors TV Show: Sex Drive
- American Heart Association: Whole Grains and Fiber
- International Journal of Impotence Research: Mediterranean Diet Improves Sexual Function in Women With the Metabolic Syndrome