17th July 2023

Top foods to improve your sex life

Eating nutritious whole foods is essential for keeping you physically and mentally healthy. A balanced Mediterranean-style diet doesn’t just benefit the body; it’s also proven to benefit your mood, your mental health, and your sleep.[1] But, did you know some foods can even improve your sexual functioning, too? In this article, we’re sharing our top foods to improve your sex life.

There are several ways that a nutritious diet can benefit your sex life: it can boost your libido, improve blood flow and heart health, improve stamina, and can raise the levels of hormones that cause arousal. 

Throughout history, certain foods and drinks have had a reputation for improving sexual arousal or experience. You may have heard of the term ‘aphrodisiac’ before: a Greek derivative pertaining to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. While you might be familiar with some foods such as oysters, asparagus or chocolate being commonly believed to be aphrodisiacs, their effects on sexual experience are often not backed by science or credible studies. The benefits of a Mediterranean-diet however, have been well researched and it is known to promote the eating of nutritious foods that are backed by science, many of which are foods that improve your sex life.

How does a Mediterranean-style diet help?

A Mediterranean-style diet has been shown to improve sexual function in both men and women. In one study, women who consistently ate a Mediterranean-style diet scored higher on desire, arousal, lubrication, orgasm, and satisfaction.[2] While another trial found that men who consumed more fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains and olive oil over a two year period reported an improvement in erectile function, which tends to flag as men get older.[3]

Stress has a really bad effect on your libido and sexual functioning, so it makes sense to choose a diet that is rich in mood-boosting nutrients to support your emotional wellbeing and high in foods that improve your sex life.[4] The Mediterranean-style diet in particular has been shown to improve, and counteract, the effect of stress on the body, and may even contribute to decreasing the risk of future mental health issues.[5]

So, we know that the Mediterranean diet can improve your overall sexual functioning and mood, but which are the best foods to put you in the mood, and how do they do it? Keep reading to find out our top foods to improve your sex life, and how they boost hormones, keep blood flowing and help you de-stress.

Top foods to improve your sex life

Seeds and chickpeas

Phytoestrogens, found in foods like flaxseeds, sesame seeds, and chickpeas,  act in a similar way to oestrogen, an important female sex hormone. Consuming these food can help with symptoms of menopause, a time in a woman’s life when her overall sexual activity often declines.[6]

Fatty fish

Foods that are rich in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are shown to help increase testosterone levels in men, and this crucial hormone plays a big part in sex drive and performance.[7] Fatty fish, such as salmon, anchovies, tuna and mussels are all excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, and have been suggested to prevent buildup of plaque in your arteries. This promotes blood flow to those all important areas of the body during sex.

Pistachio nuts

Pistachio nuts are rich in protein, fibre and healthy fats. They help lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease (which can lead to side effects such as sexual dissatisfaction).[8][9] A lesser known benefit is that they may also help reduce symptoms of erectile dysfunction. One study showed males who consumed 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of pistachio nuts daily for three weeks experienced firmer erections and increased blood flow to the penis.[10]

Leafy greens

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard are excellent sources of magnesium, which has been shown to positively affect testosterone levels.[11] A 2011 study found that taking magnesium supplements for 4 weeks promoted an increase in testosterone levels regardless of whether they were active or sedentary individuals.[12]

Beetroot (beets)

Beetroots are high in vitamins and antioxidants, and are particularly high in nitrates which may make this a good food to improve your sex life. Nitrates expand blood vessels and improve blood flow. Some studies have shown that beetroot juice given as a single dose or over a few days may improve performance at intermittent, high-intensity efforts and improve indicators of muscular fatigue.[13]


Fermented foods, such as kimchi, are packed with probiotics, vitamins and minerals and have also been shown to help to reduce stress and anxiety, perhaps due to their impact on your gut microbiome.[14] One study of 710 young adults, in particular, found that those who ate fermented foods experienced fewer symptoms of anxiety.[15] Less stress and anxiety equals a more fulfilled sex life!

There are plenty of delicious Mediterranean-style recipes on The Fast 800 Online Programme, many of which include these top foods to improve your sex life. Sign up today to see how our recipes could work for you!



Jacka, F.N., O’Neil, A., Opie, R. et al. A randomised controlled trial of dietary improvement for adults with major depression (the ‘SMILES’ trial). BMC Med 15, 23 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-017-0791-y

Esposito K, Ciotola M, Giugliano F, Schisano B, Autorino R, Iuliano S, Vietri MT, Cioffi M, De Sio M, Giugliano D. Mediterranean diet improves sexual function in women with the metabolic syndrome. Int J Impot Res. 2007 Sep-Oct;19(5):486-91. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijir.3901555. Epub 2007 Aug 2. PMID: 17673936.

Esposito K, Ciotola M, Giugliano F, De Sio M, Giugliano G, D’armiento M, Giugliano D. Mediterranean diet improves erectile function in subjects with the metabolic syndrome. Int J Impot Res. 2006 Jul-Aug;18(4):405-10. doi: 10.1038/sj.ijir.3901447. Epub 2006 Jan 5. PMID: 16395320.

Hamilton LD, Meston CM. Chronic stress and sexual function in women. J Sex Med. 2013 Oct;10(10):2443-54. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12249. Epub 2013 Jul 10. PMID: 23841462; PMCID: PMC4199300.

Carvalho KMB, Ronca DB, Michels N, Huybrechts I, Cuenca-Garcia M, Marcos A, Molnár D, Dallongeville J, Manios Y, Schaan BD, Moreno L, de Henauw S, Carvalho LA. Does the Mediterranean Diet Protect against Stress-Induced Inflammatory Activation in European Adolescents? The HELENA Study. Nutrients. 2018 Nov 15;10(11):1770. doi: 10.3390/nu10111770. PMID: 30445703; PMCID: PMC6266959.

Rietjens IMCM, Louisse J, Beekmann K. The potential health effects of dietary phytoestrogens. Br J Pharmacol. 2017 Jun;174(11):1263-1280. doi: 10.1111/bph.13622. Epub 2016 Oct 20. PMID: 27723080; PMCID: PMC5429336.

Abbott K, Burrows TL, Acharya S, Thota RN, Garg ML. Dietary supplementation with docosahexaenoic acid rich fish oil increases circulating levels of testosterone in overweight and obese men. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2020 Dec;163:102204. doi: 10.1016/j.plefa.2020.102204. Epub 2020 Nov 12. PMID: 33221700.

Sauder KA, McCrea CE, Ulbrecht JS, Kris-Etherton PM, West SG. Pistachio nut consumption modifies systemic hemodynamics, increases heart rate variability, and reduces ambulatory blood pressure in well-controlled type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. J Am Heart Assoc. 2014 Jun 30;3(4):e000873. doi: 10.1161/JAHA.114.000873. PMID: 24980134; PMCID: PMC4310367.

Nascimento ER, Maia AC, Pereira V, Soares-Filho G, Nardi AE, Silva AC. Sexual dysfunction and cardiovascular diseases: a systematic review of prevalence. Clinics (Sao Paulo). 2013 Nov;68(11):1462-8. doi: 10.6061/clinics/2013(11)13. PMID: 24270960; PMCID: PMC3812559.

Aldemir M, Okulu E, Neşelioğlu S, Erel O, Kayıgil O. Pistachio diet improves erectile function parameters and serum lipid profiles in patients with erectile dysfunction. Int J Impot Res. 2011 Jan-Feb;23(1):32-8. doi: 10.1038/ijir.2010.33. Epub 2011 Jan 13. PMID: 21228801.

Maggio M, De Vita F, Lauretani F, Nouvenne A, Meschi T, Ticinesi A, Dominguez LJ, Barbagallo M, Dall’aglio E, Ceda GP. The Interplay between Magnesium and Testosterone in Modulating Physical Function in Men. Int J Endocrinol. 2014;2014:525249. doi: 10.1155/2014/525249. Epub 2014 Mar 3. PMID: 24723948; PMCID: PMC3958794.

Cinar V, Polat Y, Baltaci AK, Mogulkoc R. Effects of magnesium supplementation on testosterone levels of athletes and sedentary subjects at rest and after exhaustion. Biol Trace Elem Res. 2011 Apr;140(1):18-23. doi: 10.1007/s12011-010-8676-3. Epub 2010 Mar 30. PMID: 20352370.

Domínguez R, Maté-Muñoz JL, Cuenca E, García-Fernández P, Mata-Ordoñez F, Lozano-Estevan MC, Veiga-Herreros P, da Silva SF, Garnacho-Castaño MV. Effects of beetroot juice supplementation on intermittent high-intensity exercise efforts. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2018 Jan 5;15:2. doi: 10.1186/s12970-017-0204-9. PMID: 29311764; PMCID: PMC5756374.

Selhub EM, Logan AC, Bested AC. Fermented foods, microbiota, and mental health: ancient practice meets nutritional psychiatry. J Physiol Anthropol. 2014 Jan 15;33(1):2. doi: 10.1186/1880-6805-33-2. PMID: 24422720; PMCID: PMC3904694.

Hilimire MR, DeVylder JE, Forestell CA. Fermented foods, neuroticism, and social anxiety: An interaction model. Psychiatry Res. 2015 Aug 15;228(2):203-8. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2015.04.023. Epub 2015 Apr 28. PMID: 25998000.

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