Valentine's Day, the one day of the year that obligates Americans to get all sexy and romantic, is a week away. Whether you've been with your little honey pot for a few weeks or a few decades, the holiday can be a great excuse to use "more than words to show [him or her] how you feel," as the wise rock band Extreme once cooed. For some couples, that might mean exchanging jewelry or heart-shaped boxes of sweets. But for many, V-Day might also be a good time to pour some sex back into the loving cup of the relationship. According to a professor of sociology quoted in a New York Times article, about 15 percent of married couples have not had sex with their spouse in six to 12 months. And, not surprisingly, couples in sexless marriages are less happy than those who frequently make the bed rock.
Obviously, there are a ton of reasons the sex might slip out of a relationship. For some, of course, it's lack of desire. While there's no food you can eat that will turn your partner into Gisele Bündchen or David Beckham, there are some potent superfoods out there that have the power to trick your brain and consequently your nether regions into getting as aroused as they would for one of Maxim's (or Glamour's) Hot 100. And the best part about these eats is that they're good for more than a roll in the hay - most of them increase your sexual potency because their incredible arrays of nutrients increase your general potency and health.
10. Pumpkin Seeds Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of a host of nutrients, including zinc, which is one of the most important minerals for preventing testosterone loss. In both men and women, zinc blocks the conversion of testosterone to estrogen. No, my dear female friends, this won't cause you to break out in a mustache. But women who have higher levels of testosterone also have higher sex drives. This, in conjunction with their high manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and protein content, makes pumpkin seeds a great source of sexual and general health for both genders.
9. Asparagus It may make your pee smell weird, but asparagus also has more positive effects on your genital functions. It's rich in folate, which regulates the production of histamine, a chemical that is required for both men and women to reach orgasm. This, combined with the fact that it kind of looks like a mini version of the Jolly Green Giant's penis, has made it a go-to libido-boosting food for centuries.
8. Hot Chillies Hot chilies contain a fiery substance called capsaicin, which boosts your heart rate, releases feel-good endorphins, and stimulates blood flow to your extremities, including the sex organs. Increased blood flow translates to increased sensitivity, which aids in the achievement of arousal and orgasm.
7. Saw Palmetto Saw palmetto extract is a product of the saw palmetto plant, a palm-like plant that bears round berries that were a staple food of southeastern Native Americans, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The extract is the most common herbal treatment for enlarged prostate in men, and animal studies indicate that it can even inhibit tumor growth. Studies show that saw palmetto may have anti-androgenic activity, which means it may increase testosterone levels in addition to its other health-promoting effects. It's available in tea form, but its active components are not water soluble, so it's best to take it in capsule form.
6. Watermelon In addition to its sexy, fleshy, pink appearance, watermelon contains naturally-occurring L-citrulline, an amino acid similar to the ones present in Viagra in a more concentrated synthetic form. This organic substance increases blood flow by relaxing blood vessels, promoting engorgement and lubrication of tissues. L-citrulline is converted by the body's enzymes into arginine, which may dilate clitoral blood vessels and facilitate blood flow to erogenous zones.
5. Papaya Here's one for the ladies: papaya contains phytoestrogens, which are said to have positive effects on women's sexual health and to increase libido. The fruit also has a sexy squishy texture (and a very vaginal appearance).
4. Celery In a Men's Health article, Dr. Alan Hirsch, M.D. said that chewing a stick of celery immediately releases sex phermones androstenone and androstenol into the mouth, throat, and nose, where they boost arousal in the man who's munching. This stimulation causes the man's body to produce scents and signals that women will be chemically drawn to.
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3. Goji Berries These potent superfood berries have long been used in Asian countries to promote sexual desire and functionality, among many other uses. The anti-oxidant-packed berries increase testosterone production, which has been shown to make both men and women hornier. The berries are also thought to increase overall stamina, improve mood, and decrease feelings of stress, all of which can be helpful between the sheets.
2. Raw Chocolate or Cacao Chocolate is seriously good for you --- as long as you don't ruin its health properties by processing the raw product and adding refined sugars and animal fats to the mix. Packed with phytonutrients and anti-oxidants, raw cacao is available in powder form to add to smoothies or healthy desserts, and also in succulent bar form by companies like Organic Nectars. One of the compounds in chocolate thought to have the strongest aphrodisiac effects is tryptophan, a component of serotonin, which is the chemical responsible for arousal and general happiness. The other is phenylethylamine, a close relative of amphetamine, which is released in the brain when people fall in love.
1. Maca My very favorite superfood for promoting sexual desire and health is a root vegetable called maca that's indigenous to the Andean mountains in Peru. Most widely available in raw powder form, maca plants were considered so valuable that they were used as currency in some ancient (and even a few modern) Peruvian tribes. They have been used for thousands of years as remedies for a host of ailments, not the least of which is to treat low libido. Modern studies need to be expanded upon, but some do point to the root's aphrodisiac properties, its ability to increase semen quality, and other sexual health benefits. I can personally vouch for the superfood's mood- and energy-boosting properties as well.