The better sex diet

February 4, 2008 4:40:44 PM PST
Spice up the sex life and increase fertility with the foods you eat.

Registered Dietitian Julie Upton returns to the show with some tips to spice up your sex life and increase fertility with the foods you eat.

How nutrition can help (or hinder) your sex life:
There are over two million web sites devoted to aphrodisiacs. From Spanish fly to Rhino horn extracts and bull testicle serums, most of the sites market gimmicky products that make raw oysters seem as easy to swallow as, well...a truffle.

However, there are many solid studies that relate sexual performance and diet. I suddenly realized that there was ample research to show that a healthy diet can have a major role in how much we enjoy sex and our sexual performance.

A low quality diet equals low quality sex. And, being overweight makes it hard to physically and psychologically get in the mood. It's hard to feel overly sexy when your muffin top is pooching over your panties. And research shows that being overweight decreases sex drive, and excess belly fat alters the balance between estrogen and testosterone, which causes a lack of mojo among men and irregular ovulation among women.

A man's sexual health is directly related to the size of his...belly.
One study found that men with waists over 42 inches had twice the risk of ED than those with smaller waist measurements. Men who were obese were also found to be three times more likely to have low sperm counts and slow swimmers compared to men of normal weight. (Hammond 2008) Clearly, dropping a few pounds if you're overweight is one of the best ways to help improve your sex life.

Good sex comes down to getting good blood flow to our bits and pieces.
If we have pounds of extra fat, the heart must pump extra blood through the miles of arteries and veins that feed the fat. And, eating foods that help keep arteries pliable and open, compared to gunked up and clogged, also helps to get the blood flowing in the right direction.

Here's setting the record straight on the so-called aphrodisiacs and whether or not they will add some spice to your sex life:

  • Dark Chocolate: There is some evidence that chocolate does, in fact, help put us in the mood for love. Chocolate contains compounds that trigger feel-good hormones in the brain. In addition, dark chocolate is rich in cocoa flavonoids that help keep our arteries flexible, improving blood flow.

  • Oysters: Aside from being slippery and slimy, oysters are one of the best sources of zinc, which is essential for reproductive health. One study found that animals given the mollusks that contain uncommon amino acids, they had the ability to trigger the release of sex hormones, adding fuel to the fire.

  • Alcohol: A drink or two can relax you and help reduce inhibitions, and alcohol in moderation is also heart-healthy because it raises the good HDL cholesterol and reduces the chances of blood clots. However, you can get many of the same heart health benefits of alcohol by drinking purple grape juice, which is packed with the antioxidant resveratrol that acts directly on the blood vessels.

  • Almonds: Long thought to be a sex stimulant, almonds are rich in several trace minerals that are important for sexual health and reproduction, such as zinc, selenium. However, their best sexual attribute is that they contain mono and polyunsaturated fat and are low in saturated fat so they are heart-healthy.

  • Strawberries: Delicate and delicious, strawberries are truly seductive, especially when covered in chocolate. They are an excellent source of folic acid, a B-vitamin that helps ward of birth defects in women and may be tied to sperm counts in men.

About Julie Upton, MS, RD:
Julie Upton is a registered dietitian and communications expert specializing in nutrition, fitness and health. As a media resource for the American Dietetic Association, Upton is interviewed and quoted in over 200 articles annually, and is a frequent guest on national and local television and radio stations. She has been interviewed on the NBC Today Show, CBS Evening News, ABC World News Tonight and is a frequent guest on CNN, WABC and Fox.

Ms. Upton is also a nationally recognized journalist who has written over 1000 articles for national newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, Redbook, Prevention, Shape, Fitness, RollingStone, US Weekly, Woman's Day and Parents. Her articles cover nutrition, fitness and health as well as active travel and professional athlete profiles.

Her athletic accomplishments are many: Upton is a competitive swimmer, cyclist, marathon runner and triathlete. She has completed events such as the Swim Around Manhattan Island, New York City Marathon and The Boston Marathon and the Hawaii Ironman World Championships.

Ms. Upton attended the University of Michigan and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition from Michigan State University. She completed her dietetic internship at Harvard Medical School and holds a Master of Science Degree in Nutrition Communications from Boston University.