A demanding job, the tumultuous political landscape, physical exhaustion, aging, side effects from medication…There are a lot of reasons why a man may find his libido lagging. While it’s perfectly normal to experience ups and downs when it comes to sexual desire, you might be wishing for less down and more up. As with so many health issues, changing what you eat can make a difference when it comes to boosting your libido. Here are my top three foods to increase sex drive.
1. Maca: the traditional aphrodisiac supported by modern science
A hearty root that thrives in the difficult growing conditions of the Peruvian Andes, maca has a long history of use for boosting libido and enhancing fertility. Along with its traditional origins, it also has support by modern research, which indicates adding maca to your diet can help increase sex drive. It may also increase sperm quantity and quality.
One of the great things about maca is that it seems to work for people experiencing low libido as a side effect of antidepressant use. In one study, subjects with impaired sex drive caused by SSRIs were given a low-dose maca supplement, a high-dose maca supplement, or a placebo. Both of the maca groups reported improvements in sex drive and performance compared to the placebo group.
As an added bonus, maca may be able to improve your athletic performance along with your sex drive. British researchers had eight bicyclists fill out a questionnaire about their sex drive, then timed them on a 40-kilometer cycling course. After completing these tasks, the cyclists were given either maca or a placebo every day for two weeks, then asked to fill out the questionnaire and ride the course again. Not only did the cyclists who took maca report increased sexual desire compared to the placebo group, but they also clocked faster cycling times on the course.
Maca powder is quite affordable and can be found at most health food stores. It has a slightly sweet, malty flavor that makes it an excellent addition to banana-based smoothies or even a supercharged milkshake.
2. Lobster: the savory shellfish that helps boost testosterone
While it may be more of an occasional indulgence than a dietary staple, lobster is considered by some to be an aphrodisiac thanks to its high zinc content. Zinc plays many vital roles in the body, including aiding in testosterone production. Since low testosterone has been associated with low libido as well as infertility and erectile dysfunction, making sure you get enough of this mineral is a good way to optimize your sexual health.
The science linking zinc and testosterone levels is pretty clear. In one study, young men were intentionally fed a low-zinc diet that caused them to develop a zinc deficiency. After 20 weeks, the young men’s testosterone levels dropped by almost 75 percent. This same study looked at the effects of increased zinc intake on elderly men and found that upping their zinc nearly doubled their testosterone levels.
Not a lobster man? Here are some other zinc-rich foods that may increase your sex drive:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Grass-fed beef
- Hemp seeds
3. Broccoli: the cruciferous veggie that can balance hormone levels
It might not seem very sexy, but eating broccoli can help prevent your libido from lowering as you get older. Men’s testosterone levels naturally dip starting around age 50, while estrogen levels start to go up. Broccoli contains a good amount of a compound called indole-3-carbinol that has been shown to help break down estrogen and flush it out of the body.
Since another compound in broccoli, sulforaphane, appears to potentially prevent cancer or slow its development, adding this veggie to your dietary rotation could really improve not just your sex drive but also your overall health. I like my broccoli steamed with a squeeze of lemon juice and a dusting of parmesan, but it’s also great roasted in the oven or eaten raw with a side of yogurt-based dip.
Other libido-boosting lifestyle changes
Beyond eating more of these three foods, what are some lifestyle changes that can help you increase sex drive? Since anxiety is a major cause of low libido, finding ways to manage your stress can help you get in the mood. Supplements are an option, and I talk about some of my favorites here.
Want to know if your diet is preventing you from achieving optimal health? Take my quiz:
Myles Spar, MD, MPH is board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Integrative Medicine. As a clinician, teacher and researcher on faculty of two major medical centers, he has led the charge for a more proactive, holistic and personalized approach to care that focuses on cutting edge technology and preventative care. Dr. Spar has traveled with the NBA, presented a TEDx Talk, appeared on Dr. Oz, and been featured in publications such as the Men’s Journal and the Los Angeles Times.