Would you like to discover foods that will improve your romantic life? Then keep reading!
We’ve all heard of the aphrodisiac powers of oysters and chocolate. Old wives’ tales? Well not really. The keys to enhancing romantic and sexual performance in men and women include improving your blood circulation, your ability to experience pleasure, and your drive. You may be surprised to learn that five nutrients found in a variety of foods have been scientifically proven to give you a better sex life. And, just so you know, these include the nutrients found in oysters and dark chocolate.
What are these elixirs of passion? Let’s start with those that improve your circulation: nitrates and arginine
#1: Nitrates: Sounds like a bad chemical that might be put in processed foods, but nitrates in natural foods are incredible for your health. Your body uses them to make nitric oxide, the master compound that regulates the function of your arteries. If you increase nitric oxide levels, your arteries will dilate, your blood vessel function will improve, and along with it, you will enhance your athletic, sexual, and blood vessel performance. When men consume foods with “good nitrates” they have better romantic performance. When women eat these foods, they feel more aroused and receptive.
Foods that are rich in nitrates include:
- Beets are an incredible source (see my blog, the best vegetable for your heart).
- Cooked spinach (You need at least one cup of cooked spinach to make a difference. Raw spinach is mostly water. It takes 7.5 cups of raw spinach to equal 1 cup of cooked spinach). Not surprising then that Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and rapture, recommended beets as an aphrodisiac.
#2: Arginine: Arginine is another compound the body uses to make nitric oxide. Clinical studies have shown that arginine improves romantic and sexual function. Increase arginine, and you will increase blood flow for men and women. Arginine is a simple amino acid (protein building block), so I don’t see any safety issues or side effects with the moderate dosages I am suggesting.
Foods that are rich in arginine and contain about 3,000 mg per 5 ounce serving include:
- All shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab)
Studies show that when men take 1000 mg of an arginine supplement 1-2 capsules twice daily, they report improved sexual performance. A very good quality form of arginine can be found here.
Next, foods that increase your ability to feel physical pleasure.
The brain requires a chemical compound called dopamine for romantic desire and fulfillment. Endorphins are other compounds that increase relaxation and the sense of fulfillment. Endorphins allow us to feel relaxed, calm, and satisfied.
#3: Tyrosine: To make dopamine, you require a couple nutrients. The most important is an amino acid called tyrosine.
Foods that are rich in tyrosine include:
- Soy protein
#4: Endorphin precursors: A variety of foods including salmon, vanilla, and bananas have been reported to increase endorphin production, but by far the top rated is:
- Dark chocolate. We are not talking milk chocolate; the chocolate has to have at least 74% cocoa mass to qualify.
Finally, foods that improve your libido.
#5: Zinc: Foods that enhance adrenal function stimulate sex drive and libido. To have drive, you need good adrenal function, and in particular, you need zinc.
- Dark chocolate
What undermines romantic performance? Well that would be too much alcohol. You need hydration, so enjoy sparkling water and iced green tea, but keep your alcohol intake moderate. Since you won’t be over-indulging, you might as well splurge and buy a special bottle of red wine or champagne. Just stick to one to two servings per person.
Now that you know the top foods for romantic function and pleasure, you should be able to guess my recommended menu for Valentine’s Day.
Recipes for a Romantic Valentine’s Day
Don’t forget to set the décor with candles and flowers.
Appetizers: (good choices include)
- Smoked oysters with a dab of guacamole on sliced cucumber (yes, some of you may think raw oysters, but as a physician, I’d have to say be cautious with raw seafood, so I’m recommending smoked oysters). See recipe, Smart Fat, page 236.
- Smoked salmon with a dab of guacamole on sliced cucumber
- Crab See recipes, Smart Fat, pages 237-238, and 265.
- Shrimp or Lobster Kebobs (You could use turkey breast and/or thighs cut into cubes if you don’t like shellfish) See recipes, Smart Fat 250-252, and 266; The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, page 319-320.
- Roasted beets See recipe, The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, page 333.
- Spinach, sautéed in virgin olive oil, with Italian herbs and fresh garlic
- Chocolate. Try 1-2 ounce of dark chocolate per person, drizzled over fresh strawberries or cherries. See recipe, Smart Fat, pages 282-283.
- Or for a special treat, try my Chocolate-Raspberry-Orange Soufflé, The 30-Day Heart Tune-Up, page 338-339.
SELECTED RECIPES ADAPTED FROM MY BOOK: SMART FAT—Eat More Fat. Lose More Weight. Get Healthy Now.
Coconut Milk Curry with Shrimp and Spinach
The curry flavors are terrific, plus you can use any protein (shrimp, lobster, or turkey) and match with your favorite veggie combinations, such as cauliflower or broccoli.
Serve with a side dish of roasted beets.
Prep and Cooking Time: 25–30 minutes Serves: Two
1 1/2 cups hot water
3/4 cup brown rice
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger-root
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1/8 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (to taste, from mild to hot)
7.5 cups fresh spinach (or 1 cup of frozen whole spinach, thawed and drained)
3/4 pound large or jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 medium garlic cloves, diced
12 ounces canned coconut milk (full fat)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or Italian parsley
Combine water and rice in pot, bring to a boil, then simmer 25–35 minutes until rice is cooked. (Rice brands vary, so follow package directions.)
Heat a large sauté pan to medium-high heat, add oil, then onion, salt, and black pepper, and cook 3–4 minutes until onions are translucent. Add ginger, curry, paprika, and ground cayenne, stir, and heat another 2–3 minutes. Add spinach, shrimp, and garlic, stirring occasionally until shrimp turn pink, 3–5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, stir in coconut milk, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in fresh cilantro and serve over rice.
Beets become sweeter when roasted.
Prep Time: 5 minutes Baking Time: 40-45 minutes Serves: 2
3 medium beets, peeled, cut into ½-inch pieces
2 Tbsp Virgin olive oil
¼ tsp sea salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp Italian herb seasoning
Preheat oven to 400° (F). Combine beets with oil, salt, pepper, and Italian herbs in an oven-proof dish. Bake until beets are tender, about 40-45 minutes.
Strawberries and Dark Chocolate Drizzle
A terrific dessert for Valentine’s Day.
2 ounces dark chocolate
1 tablespoon organic butter
2 cups fruit (strawberries are perfect, but you can also try orange, or pitted cherries), cut in bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons chopped nuts of your choice
In a double boiler, melt chocolate, then add butter and stir together; alternatively, melt slowly together in a glass bowl in the microwave. Spread fruit pieces over a plate and drizzle with chocolate; sprinkle with chopped nuts. Serve immediately or chill and save for later.
Steven Masley, MD
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