The Effects of Eating Fish on the Libido

Fish pie
Eating fish could have a positive impact on your sex drive. (Image: irakite/iStock/Getty Images)

Libido is a term that refers to your sex drive or sexual desire. In men, sex drive is primarily controlled by testosterone. The main source that controls libido in women is not so easily identifiable, making female sexual desire more vulnerable to fluctuation. When it comes to changes in the libido, experts often point to intimacy issues, mood and physical health. While few foods can provide an instant turn-on, a diet high in fish and seafood could have a positive impact on your sex drive.

Food and Libido

In an article about food and sex, author and clinical health psychologist\ Lynn Edlen-Nezin, PhD, explains that certain nutrients can enhance your libido, especially foods that are good for the heart, such as fish. In order to enjoy sex, men and women need to have healthy blood flow to the genitals. A healthy heart encourages blood circulation all over the body and can increase sensation during sex.


Arginine is an amino acid the body uses to create nitric oxide. In the genitals, nitric oxide is used to expand blood vessels. Too little can limit a male’s ability to get an erection and interfere with a woman’s ability to become aroused. Fish that contain arginine include salmon, cod and halibut.


Zinc has been linked to testosterone levels in the blood. Moderate deficiency, according to a 1997 article by Walter Eddy, doctor of Oriental Medicine, can interfere with proper sex gland operation in males and lead to low sperm count. Zinc has also been linked to healthy sexual development early in life. One way to get your recommended daily allowance of zinc, 11 mg for males and 8 mg for females, is by eating fish. Cod contains 0.5 mg of the mineral, Salmon contains 1 mg, sardines contain 3 mg and tuna contains 0.8.


It’s important to consume any kind of food in moderation. According to a 2003 article by Robert Keith, Alabama Cooperative Extension System Nutritionist, a diet high in certain salt-water fish, such as tuna, ups your risk of mercury exposure. Mercury builds up in the system over time and can damage the central nervous system. If you prefer your fish battered and fried, you significantly increase your calorie intake. Mercury poisoning and being overweight or obese can have a negative impact on your libido, regardless of how much zinc or arginine you’re getting.

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