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Sexual Wellness

A Dietitian on How Nutrition Affects Your Sexual Health

| 03/19/2021

Illustration by Sophi Gullbrants

Eating pineapple makes you taste sweeter. Oysters put you in the mood. Coffee can change your vaginal odor. We’ve all heard these common rumors about nutrition and sex, but how do you tell fact from fiction? 

One thing is for sure: Many factors go into promoting good sexual health and your diet is an essential piece of that puzzle. Consuming a diverse variety of foods that contain beneficial nutrients – vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals – are crucial for a balanced diet. It is also key to keeping your body and sexual system healthy, impacting everything from arousal to libido to the quality of your orgasms.

That said, the connection between nutrition and sex is shrouded in myths. This can make it difficult to know how what you’re eating is really affecting your sexual health. Through my work as a Registered Dietitian, I’ve gained some insights on what’s actually backed by research when it comes to food and sexual health—and what’s just wishful thinking. Here are the six most common rumors around nutrition and sex.

Fact: Coffee can change your vaginal odor

Unfortunately, your daily caffeine boost does indeed have the potential to change your vaginal odor. Coffee’s strong flavor and high acid content can alter your body’s pH level as your natural scent. The beverage is extremely acidic and has an average pH of between 4.85 and 5.10. This gives it the potential to lower the pH and scent of body fluids, including sweat or vaginal lubricant. 

Luckily, these consequences aren’t as dire as they appear. Despite potential to alter your pH and scent, giving up your morning latte won’t be necessary. Instead, focus on consuming coffee products in moderation and drink plenty of water to prevent noticeable odor changes. 

Myth: Pineapple makes you taste sweeter

Pineapple altering the taste of your body fluids may be one of the most popular rumors out there relating to sex. It is believed that the enzyme bromelain, which provides pineapple with its sweet taste, can also alter the taste of semen or vaginal fluid.

In reality, there is no research that proves pineapple or bromelain can change the taste of your body fluids. However, enjoying a serving of pineapple every now and then may provide benefits to your sexual health in other ways. This fruit is full of antioxidants like vitamin C, which can improve blood flow to sex organs.  

Fact: Oysters can put you in the mood

Oysters can indeed increase sex drive and arousal—and not just because their shape and texture are highly vaginal. They contain over 673% of the daily value of zinc, a mineral with a research-backed connection to enhancing arousal. Zinc is important for efficient cardiovascular circulation and can improve blood flow to enhance stimulation of sexual organs.

Not in the mood for oysters? Luckily, any zinc-rich food has the potential to provide you a libido boost. Additional options include crab, beef, chickpeas, tofu, yogurt, and pumpkin seeds. 

Researchers speculate that the connection between chocolate and sex drive may be psychological.

Myth: Dark chocolate boosts your libido

Sorry to all the chocolate lovers, but this sweet treat doesn’t actually impact sex drive. It was thought that the long-chain unsaturated fatty acids in dark chocolate can boost production of hormones like serotonin, providing an aphrodisiac effect. 

However, studies have not linked increases of serotonin production to enhanced arousal. Instead, researchers speculate that the connection between chocolate and sex drive may be psychological. As a result, eating chocolate can provide a placebo effect to put you in the mood without any actual biological alterations. 

Fact: An apple a day can improve your orgasm

A 2014 study linked better sex and satisfactory climax to women who ate an apple every day. Apples are an excellent choice for good health, but their antioxidant and phytoestrogen content is what improves your sexual health. Phytoestrogen is a natural phytochemical that mimics the effect of estrogen in the body. The primary phytoestrogen in apples, phlorizin, assists in balancing body hormones, which not only increases ability to orgasm, but also improves sexual function, libido, and lubrication.

Myth…and fact: Red wine leads to better sex

Red wine is unique when it comes to sexual health: It both helps and hinders sexual function. It is true that moderate amounts of red wine can enhance arousal. The alcohol contains the antioxidant quercetin, which increases lubrication and blood flow to stimulate function of sex organs.

However, consuming more than two glasses of red wine per day offers the opposite effect. Despite belief that alcoholic drinks like red wine can maximize sexual experience, intoxication can limit your ability to have satisfying sex. Sexual dysfunction caused by intoxication reduces blood flow to sexual organs, stamina, and capacity of arousal.

Boost Your Sexual Health with Good Nutrition

To avoid getting swept up in the hype of rumors, stick to the facts to balance the health of your sexual system. Research has proven that the most beneficial diet-related step you can take for better sex is consuming a variety of foods that contain diverse beneficial nutrients.

Start with foods that are rich in these nutrients to promote sexual health:

  • Antioxidants – Berries contain antioxidant micronutrients and bioactive compounds that fortify the health for your sex organs by preventing oxidative damage.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – These healthy fats contained in avocados, seeds, and nuts improve circulation and sex organ stimulation.
  • Probiotic foods – Kimchi, yogurt, and kombucha are probiotics that can help balance the pH of your body fluids and secretions and balance sex hormone production.

These nutrients enhance your sexual health by fortifying the health of your sexual organs and improving blood circulation. Refocusing your diet can lead to many aspects of better sex – including an increase in sexual function, arousal, lubrication, fertility, and orgasm quality.

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