7 Foods That Boost Your Libido & 7 That Totally Tank It

At the end of the day, probably the easiest way to explain libido is that it's the level of sexual desire that someone has. While this kind of drive can differ based on all kinds of things like hormonal shifts, the kind of meds that people are on, one's lifestyle, the quality of their relationship, and even their views on sex (and its purpose), if there's one thing that many medical professionals can agree on, it's the fact that diet can play a significant role in affecting if someone's libido is high or low.

That's why it's a good idea to stay abreast of the types of foods that can help to give your sex drive a boost vs. the ones that can totally cause it to tank. Because if you're someone who personally wants to have a thriving sex life, it's important to know that so many things outside of the bedroom play a pivotal role in making that happen.

BEST: Spinach

You probably grew up hearing that you needed to eat your vegetables — especially the green ones. And, when it came to those green veggies, you probably came across spinach quite a bit. Well, as far as your sex drive goes, there are a few reasons why you should prepare some of it, at least a couple of times a week. Spinach is a great source of folate and magnesium — both of which can increase blood flow to the genital region.

According to Health, another great thing about spinach is it can decrease blood pressure levels which is a good thing if you have a partner who has trouble maintaining an erection due to pressure-related issues. Spinach also lowers oxidative stress; this is also good to know because oxidative stress has been directly tied to infertility. So, if spinach isn't a staple in your home, those are some pretty solid reasons to make it one.

WORST: Canned Foods

Kitchn once published an article that said we all should be consuming at most around a teaspoon of salt on a daily basis (even lower if your doctor recommends that you be on a low-sodium diet). Problem is, a lot of canned foods contain as much as half of what you're supposed to be eating, sodium-wise, per serving. And when there is too much salt in your system, that can lead to high blood pressure in men (which can result in them having a hard time getting or maintaining an erection) or vaginal dryness in women (which can make it challenging for us to experience an orgasm — via The Health Site).

Does that mean that you can't enjoy your favorite soups (or other canned foods)? The bigger takeaway is you should mix them up with fresh produce and you should look for cans that are labeled as being "low in sodium" as much as possible — not just for the sake of your sex life, but your long-term health overall.

BEST: Watermelon

It's best to eat foods when they are in season; that way, you can get the most nutrients from them (they tend to taste a lot better when they're in season too). Well, when it comes to watermelon, The Food Network says that May thru September is the best time of year to partake of this particular fruit. This is great to know because watermelon is a fruit that hydrates, is a good source of fiber, and helps to reduce bodily inflammation as well as oxidative stress (via Healthline).

As if that's not a good enough reason to enjoy a few slices, watermelon also has the nickname "natural Viagra." WebMD shares that the main reason is thanks to the amino acid citrulline. It helps to produce nitric oxide in a man's system which, in turn, helps his blood vessels to dilate. Blood vessel dilation also plays a role in intensifying orgasms (via Medical News Today), so watermelon is definitely the kind of food that can take your sex life to a whole other level!

WORST: Fried Foods

Anything that you prepare by frying it in oil or some other kind of fat is considered to be fried food. And whether it's fried chicken, French fries, or even a plate of fried veggies that are your favorite treat, consuming these kinds of things in moderation is truly of the utmost importance — especially if you want your libido to remain in great condition.

A part of the problem with fried foods, as it directly relates to your libido, is they are high in trans fats (via Healthline). According to Insider, trans fats can clog up your arteries and impede your body's blood flow (including to your genital region). Plus, these types of fats have been connected to risky sexual behavior in women and fertility complications in men.

That said, it's always important to keep in mind that baking some of your favorite foods can be a delicious alternative to frying. It's a proactive way to protect your sex drive as well as the rest of your system.

BEST: Grapes

Another fruit that can do wonders for your sex life is grapes. They are rich in flavonoids and, not only is that connected to improving the quality of a man's erection, but red grapes also have the plant pigment quercetin in them; that's important to know because it has anti-inflammatory properties in it that can increase blood flow down below (via BBC).

Something else that's awesome about this low-calorie food is it is between 80-89% waterSince a reported 75% of Americans are not just dehydrated but severely dehydrated, and having enough fluid in your system plays a direct role in producing vaginal lubrication (so that sex can be both arousing and comfortable — via Medical News Today), if you know that you're not drinking as much water as you should, stopping in the produce section of your favorite grocery store to get some grapes can be a delicious way to hydrate yourself.

WORST: Diet Soda

If you're someone who will order a combo meal that contains diet soda (thinking that it is better for your health than regular soda), there are a few things to keep in mind. Medical News Today states that diet soda can actually be pretty bad for you because there are studies that cite that some of its ingredients can increase the risk of you ending up with damaged blood vessels or chronic inflammation. Not only that but it also has the ability to wreak total havoc on your dopamine levels; those are natural hormones that help to put you in a good mood.

Something else that diet soda can potentially do is increase erectile dysfunction in men and put your sex hormones in a real tailspin. That's because artificial sweeteners like saccharin and aspartame could actually cause you to gain weight (via Medical News Today) and weight gain has been proven to decrease libido levels over time (via WebMD).

BEST: Pomegranate Juice

Although pomegranates are pretty much only available during the fall season, they still contain enough health benefits to receive a mention here. Medical News Today states that pomegranates are high in antioxidants, contain anti-inflammatory properties, can lower your blood pressure, and are full of vitamins E and K.

What makes this fruit so good for your sex life is it also helps to reduce oxidative stress while increasing testosterone levels in both men and women. When testosterone is elevated, sexual desire is too. Another bonus is pomegranates can help to make you feel happier and they can improve fertility in men, too.

So, what if you're so excited about all of this that you can't wait until autumn? Another option is to purchase some pomegranate juice (which is typically available year-round). Just make sure that it's 100% pure. In order to reap all of the benefits, a cocktail blend simply won't do.

WORST: Dairy

You probably heard in elementary-level science class that dairy is good for you, mostly because the calcium in it is beneficial to your teeth and bones. While that is certainly the case, Healthline shares some other things about dairy that you should also consider. Things like dairy could cause you to become lactose intolerant, it has been linked to causing cancer, and it's not the best food on the planet for the environment. There are also studies that connect dairy to an increase in heart disease in men.

Since the focus today is on what is good and not-so-good for your libido, the thing to keep in mind here is dairy sometimes contains synthetic hormones which can throw off testosterone levels in both men and women (via Medical News Today). A dietician by the name of Julieanna Hever told the publication LIVEKINDLY, "Taking in these hormones may play a role in modifying sex hormone levels in humans and can, therefore, impact sexual function."

Thankfully, there are some pretty delicious dairy alternatives that are available. For the sake of your libido, consider giving them a try (if you haven't already).

BEST: Salmon

Is there anything more delicious than a fresh piece of grilled salmon? And here's the thing — every time that you sit down to enjoy it, you are getting a big dose of omega-3 fatty acids into your system. That's a good thing because Healthline reveals that they help to relieve depression and anxiety, improve brain health and vision, fight heart disease, lower ADHD in children, and help to fight autoimmune diseases too — and that's just for starters!

Sexually, omega-3s can do wonders for your libido. Studies reveal that not only can they help to improve sperm quality and decrease infertility issues in men, NBC News shares that this is the type of nutrient that can also elevate dopamine levels in both men and women. This is good for your sex life because dopamine is a neurotransmitter that helps your system to feel pleasure and satisfaction — two things you definitely want to experience during those special moments with your partner.

WORST: Microwavable Popcorn

If you enjoy snacking and you want to lean towards the kinds that are healthy, popcorn tops the list among many health professionals. For starters, it's a whole grain that is high in fiber. As far as health benefits go, it's low-calorie, helps to reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease and popcorn contains a lot of B-vitamins (via WebMD).

Just make sure that if you decide to indulge that you stay clear of microwaveable popcorn. The problem with it is more about the packaging than the popcorn itself because a lot of the bags are lined with a chemical known as PFOA. Not only has that been linked to causing cancer (via Healthline), there are also studies that state that it can lower men's sperm count and even result in them having shorter penises (via Intercept). Popcorn poppers are pretty affordable. So, for the sake of your health — and your partner's sex life — ditch the microwavable brands and pop popcorn the old-fashioned way.

BEST: Pumpkin Seeds

If you're seriously considering becoming a vegetarian or vegan, something that you might want to pick up is some pumpkin seeds. The reason why is because a one ounce serving equates to seven grams of protein (which is a lot). Healthline also shares that these seeds are full of manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and a good amount of iron, zinc, and copper too. These nutrients work together to improve bladder and heart health and to even out blood sugar levels.

Snack on pumpkin seeds as well in order to strengthen your muscular contractions, so that you can have more intense orgasms. They are able to assist you in this way due to the amino acid myosin that's in them. Another perk when it comes to pumpkin seeds is they're directly associated with maintaining men's prostate health; the better state a man's prostate is, the greater chance he has of not experiencing erectile dysfunction, which is always a good thing.

WORST: Red Meat

Are you someone who feels like nothing brings you more joy than a big ole' juicy steak? It's totally understandable. And while, according to WebMD, red meat can provide your body with nutrients like Vitamin B12 and zinc (which are both great for your libido — via Vitamin Shoppe), there is a potential downside that needs to be taken into consideration too.

Insider says the reality is that red meat, processed foods, and foods that are high in sodium all have the potential to cause heart disease, increase blood pressure levels and also hinder blood flow. Sexually, all of this can result in erectile dysfunction for men and less intense orgasms for women.

No one is saying that this means that you can never enjoy red meat. It's just important that you're intentional about having it no more than 1-2 times a week, just to be on the safer side of things.

BEST: Almonds

According to WebMD, zinc is a nutrient that comes with all kinds of health benefits. Zinc is able to strengthen your immune system and boost your metabolism. Zinc also helps to reduce bodily inflammation, aids in healing acne, helps to relieve oxidative stress, and can even increase the potency of flu shots in older people (via Healthline).

Zinc is great for your sexual health because it's been scientifically proven to help prevent erectile dysfunction (via Healthline). Something else that zinc is able to do is increase sexual desire, vaginal lubrication, and even the ability to orgasm in women — especially in women who are postmenopausal.

This is where almonds come in. They're a nut that (along with cashews) is high in zinc (via Healthline). Since they can also reduce your risk for heart disease, fight off free radicals, balance out your blood sugar levels, improve your bone health and even help to stabilize your weight — why not snack on some almonds during your breaks at work?

WORST: Cruciferous Vegetables

If you've ever wondered what causes a food to fall into the category of being a "cruciferous vegetable," they are a part of the Brassica genus of plants which include veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, arugula, turnips, and several other foods. Thanks to the high amounts of antioxidants, fiber, and folate, cruciferous vegetables are good for you because they contain properties that help to fight cancer and protect your cells from DNA damage.

However, because some of those foods also have sulfur in them and sulfur doesn't smell the best (it's oftentimes compared to rotten eggs), it can be a no-no when you're interested in getting intimate with your partner. According to Romper, not only can veggies like broccoli possibly cause your bodily fluids to not smell the best, but studies also state that it can also cause bloating and gas — and there's probably no need to expound on why no one wants that during sex.

The moral to the story here is not to forego these types of foods. Just try and avoid them 1-2 days prior to planned intimacy. For all of the reasons mentioned, you'll be glad that you did!