Do you know what is good for the heart is also good for libido? These plant foods are great to add to your romantic meal.
If you’ve ever heard someone say, “a beet helps the heartbeat,” they’re right. In fact, these small vibrantly-colored root vegetables contain a high concentration of nitrates. Nitrates are a natural chemical found in soil, air, water, and some foods that can help your body to reduce blood pressure, which can lead to less risk of heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke. You can’t beat eating beets! Mix them into your smoothie or chop them into fine pieces and add them to your salad. “For increased blood flow, you want to increase your intake of beetroot and green leafy veggies. They help boost the production of nitric oxide (NO),” says Felice Gersh, MD, an OBGYN in Irvine, California. “NO helps dilate arteries and keeps the blood flowing freely and well.
These are berry good for your heart! “Eating a cup of blueberries a day reduces risk factors for cardiovascular disease,” according to a study by the National Library of Medicine. To be specific, eating 150 grams (about 5 ounces) of blueberries a day reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease by up to 15 percent. The study examined the effect of six months of blueberry intake on insulin resistance and cardiometabolic function in patients with metabolic syndrome. The research team concluded that “blueberries and other berries should be included in dietary strategies to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease– particularly among at-risk groups.” Add berries to your smoothies, yogurt parfaits, salads, or simply enjoy them on their own.
When people say, “A Tomato a Day Keeps the Heart Doctor Away,” they’re actually talking about Lycopene. This chemical that gives tomatoes their bright red color, and can be found in watermelon and grapefruit, is a powerhouse antioxidant that helps to keep cells from becoming damaged. Lycopene may work to lower LDL. Lycopene in the diet also appears to prevent clotting, which can limit the risk of stroke according to health studies.
Edamame is neither a fruit nor vegetable, but a powerhouse legume that delivers major benefits when it comes to boosting heart health. Edamame is rich in fiber, antioxidants and vitamin K which together work to lower LDL and improve your blood lipids. “Eating 47 grams of soy protein per day can lower total cholesterol levels by 9.3 percent and LDL by 12.9 percent, according to a health study by The National Library of Medicine. In addition, the vitamin K in edamame helps regulate your blood vessels and improves circulation in the body.
A delightfully spicy leafy green that’s part of the cruciferous vegetable family, arugula contains beneficial antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that support overall health by combating free-radical damage and nourishing our bodies. From the culinary perspective, arugula is delicious and easy to use in vegan recipes. With its delicately peppery flavor, arugula can be eaten in a salad, blended into sauces, and added to green juices. In this raw vegan recipe for Walnut, Arugula, & Basil Pesto, you can enjoy arugula along with additional delicious plant-based ingredients that support sexual health. Plus, this entrée is so easy to make that you’ll surely wow your partner with such a delectable, elegant meal! And great news in the love-life department: arugula has been hailed as a powerful aphrodisiac since the first century!
Rich in flavor and healthy fats, heart-healthy walnuts can help keep arteries flexible, which means better blood flow to certain parts of our bodies … and better blood flow is something we definitely want when it comes to getting in the mood. In addition, with more antioxidants than any other nuts, walnuts support the body’s overall health and vitality, which are all great things when it comes to maintaining and promoting a healthy sex drive!
While it might not leave you with the freshest breath, there’s an old expression that goes something like this: “If your lover doesn’t like the smell of garlic, it’s time to find a new lover.” Or maybe that’s just what you hear growing up in an Italian family. At any rate, garlic is another raw plant-based ingredient that supports sexual health. Similar to walnuts, garlic is high in antioxidants but is also heart-healthy and serves as a natural antifungal. Furthermore, garlic is packed with allicin, which increases blood flow and dilates blood vessels.
High in monounsaturated fats that can help lower cholesterol, avocados are another power player when it comes to getting your blood pumping. They’re also high in vitamin B-6, vitamin E, and folic acid, all of which are known to boost libido, which is fantastic news for fans of this popular ingredient. In this recipe for Thick & Creamy Chocolate Mousse with Chocolate Pecan Crumble, the green delights are whipped into a decadently romantic chocolate frenzy sure to turn any evening into Valentine’s Day.
Who doesn’t love chocolate, especially for romantic occasions? The great news is that chocolate not only boosts your mood and sex drive but it can also be served in ways that are both healthy and delicious. Cacao has more antioxidants than green tea or wine and is packed with a chemical called Phenylethylamine (PEA), which is something our bodies release when we’re, um, excited. In addition, cacao makes for a natural mood-enhancer that can come in handy when you’re looking to get into a romantic state of mind, making it a deliciously convenient plant-based ingredient for desserts.
This ancient starchy Peruvian root is most often found in powdered form and makes for a tasty addition to many vegan recipes, but especially in desserts. Maca’s earthy sweet taste pairs well with raw cacao, which enhances everything from puddings to ice creams. The root is well-studied in terms of its ability to increase sexual desire and is considered a nutritionally robust plant due to its fiber, calcium, magnesium, iron, and selenium. Maca can also help balance hormones in women, alleviating symptoms of menopause while giving sex drive a boost.
7. Peppers & Cayenne
Capsaicin, the spicy chemical that gives hot peppers their eye-watering kick, has been linked with improved vascular health and increased testosterone in men, both of which could indirectly improve sex drive and function.
8. Watermelon and the rind
The summertime favorite is loaded with several phytonutrients—including lycopene, and citrulline—that seem to relax blood vessels in ways similar to Viagra, finds a recent study from Texas A&M University. That’s helpful news for men, but the authors of the study write that this relaxation effect might also increase sex drive in women.
Chickpeas are full of vitamin B6, which is essential for a healthy sex drive and increasing your libido, says Swift. They may also help to regulate the production of testosterone (vital for sex drive) and dopamine (the feel-good hormone).
10. Dark Chocolate
Dark Chocolate (70 percent or higher) contains compounds that actually boost the release of feel-good hormones, putting you in the mood for some togetherness, says Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, founder of BZ Nutrition in New York City. Pair it with some dried apricots, as the amino acids in the fruits can give you a boost of energy.
Pistachios provide healthy fats that might enhance blood flow and improve erectile dysfunction, Dr. Dweck says.
What can’t the avocado do? This superfood has super powers for your sex drive. The vitamin E found in avocados increases the body’s production of testosterone and estrogen. These sex hormones trigger sexual stimulation.
We love figs! Besides their positive impact on your digestive system, they also increase pheromone secretion. Pheromones are chemicals that our bodies externally secrete that send messages to other individuals on a chemical level.
Adapted from the Saladmaster Foodture Cooking School newsletter