Envision a ripe, juicy apricot. It beckons from the kitchen counter—full, sweet, and ready to be enjoyed. Now think about a bag of dried apricots. They’re in the pantry, for use . . . whenever. Our sexuality should be like the fresh apricot: a nourishing and urgent part of our lives. Yet many of us struggle to feel desire, or we lack the energy to act on it.
“My mom confided in me that she only had sex when she went on vacation,” says Brigitte Mars, a herbalist and nutritional consultant based in Boulder, Colorado. “And I said, ‘But, Mom, you only go on vacation once a year!’” Luckily for Mom (and Dad!), Mars is the author of The Sexual Herbal and offered to make meals that contained a lot of cinnamon. The results? “After a week, she winked at me.”
“Cinnamon, consistently eaten, keeps you ‘user ready,’” explains Brian Clement. He and his wife, Anna Maria, both naturopaths and nutritionists, are the authors of 7 Keys to Lifelong Sexual Vitality. “It’s the biggest question we hear: How can I get my libido back?” says Anna Maria Clement. That’s a question worth pursuing, she says. “Sexual satisfaction is a major contributor to the quality of life.”
The right foods can support desire, but if you’re envisioning oysters, think again: Foods for sexual vitality are different from aphrodisiacs, says Mars. “You want to tone the whole body. It’s not, What can I do for tonight? but, rather, having extra energy for sex.” Here are the powerhouse foods that will fan your desire:
Nuts and seeds, especially sesame, chia, sunflower, hemp, and pumpkin. “Raw nuts and seeds have a lot of life force,” says Mars, who suggests soaking chia seeds overnight and having them for breakfast with blueberries, nuts, and honey.
Grains, beans, and squash. “The best way to eat squash is raw,” says Brian Clement. “Grate it up and add it to salads or dips.”
Turmeric, lemon, and cayenne, which support healthy circulation. “Some of the smallest capillaries in the body go down to the penis and vaginal areas,” Clement says. “Blood flow is necessary for full arousal,” agrees Laurie Steelsmith, a Honolulu-based naturopathic physician and the author of Great Sex, Naturally.
Cruciferous vegetables, acai, mangosteen, and berries. These support liver health, which is also vital to good circulation, says Steelsmith.
Cardamom, garlic, and ginger. “You want to warm your body up, not cool your jets,” says Mars. “Make your food healthy and exciting.”
Maca. This root is associated with stabilizing hormones, says Elyse Clark, a raw vegan chef and educator from Deer Park, New York. She uses maca powder, beets, and Brazil nuts to make raw-food truffles.
Dark chocolate. It contains L-arginine (a vasodilator) and phenylethylamine, which makes you feel happy, Steelsmith says. Skip the chocolate bar, with its added sugar and fat. Instead, buy cocoa powder and add it to your smoothies.
Root vegetables. “Roots are said to energize your lower chakras,” says Mars. Try burdock root, carrots, and beets.
Avoid fatty foods and alcohol, which will make you sluggish, and coffee, which Steelsmith says lowers testosterone in both men and women.
Overall, focus on fresh, unprocessed foods. “When you eat cleaner, you function more optimally,” says Clark. “Even your response to human touch will change—you can get aroused by simpler things. Your body is getting the message more clearly.”
Hungry for more? Click here for recipes to boost your sexual vitality (Maca Brazil Truffles, anyone?).