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11 Aphrodisiac Foods

Kristin Hall, FNP

Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Lauren Panoff

Published 10/12/2021

Updated 12/19/2023

Sex, love, and attraction have been foundational pieces in the puzzle of human culture since the very beginning. Today, the prevalence of things like erectile dysfunction (ED) and low libido present widespread sexual health challenges.

An estimated 30 million adult men in the United States are affected by some form of ED. With so many guys struggling with sexual performance and satisfaction, the desire for natural solutions continues to grow. 

Enter: aphrodisiacs. Derived from the name of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, aphrodisiacs are substances that stimulate sexual desire. 

Some are more backed by personal anecdotes than robust science, but that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of interest. After all, there may be prescriptions for ED or premature ejaculation (PE), but no such luck for enhancing attraction and sexual desire.

Perhaps you want to take things literally when it comes to spicing up your love life. So, what foods are aphrodisiacs? We rounded up 11 to consider adding to your date-night menu.

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What Are Natural Aphrodisiacs?

Natural aphrodisiacs are substances found in nature, predominantly plants, thought to enhance sexual desire and performance. Humans have been drawn to their promises for centuries, with varying degrees of scientific evidence to back them.

Some are considered more effective when consumed alone. Others may work better when taken with other substances, plus proven medications for sexual problems like ED. 

How realistic is it that aphrodisiac foods can impact your sex life? Well, most studies have been small in scale and have found limited effects.

That said, some aphrodisiacs might work in an indirect way by relaxing blood vessels and enhancing circulation.

Aphrodisiac foods are a growing area of interest. But they’re most appropriately put in the “maybe” column when it comes to improving sexual health and desire.

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11 Aphrodisiac Foods

Here are 11 foods — in no particular order — said to have aphrodisiac properties. Some have been used for centuries for sexual enhancement, and others have more recent scientific findings.

1. Maca

Maca root is a Peruvian plant that’s been used for over 2,000 years for its nutritional and medicinal health benefits. It’s sold as an herbal supplement for ED in powdered form, which some people add to smoothies in the hopes of boosting their sexual health.

Research suggests maca could help improve libido and sexual experience. For example, one study found that maca root had a positive effect on desire and may alleviate sexual dysfunction induced by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), a class of antidepressants. Similar effects on libido have been observed among women taking SSRIs and maca.

Another study found that men who took two grams of maca daily for 12 weeks experienced significantly improved semen concentration — but not necessarily motility — compared to those given a placebo.

2. Saffron

Saffron is a spice originating from the stigma and styles (threads) of the Crocus sativus flower. The threads are collected and dried for culinary use, especially in Indian cuisine. 

Some research suggests saffron may benefit male sexual function and satisfaction. For instance, in one small study, 29 men with ED were given 200 milligrams of saffron daily for ten days. The authors concluded that even after this short time, saffron had a positive effect on male sexual function, particularly in terms of getting and maintaining erections.

In another study with 30 men, half were given a placebo, and half were given 15 milligrams of saffron daily for four weeks. Those who took saffron experienced significantly improved erectile function and satisfaction.

3. Epimedium

The Epimedium grandiflorum plant thrives in Africa, Europe and Asia. Also known as “horny goat weed,” it gets its nickname from the aphrodisiac effects it has on goats who eat the leaves.

Epimedium extract has been used to improve sexual dysfunction and desire for hundreds of years. Today, it’s a common ingredient in male sexual enhancement products and sold in powdered, gummy and capsule form. The bioactive component is called icariin.

In a test-tube setting, icariin has shown some erection-promoting activity. Overall, horny goat weed may have something to offer, but evidence is very limited among humans.

4. Ginseng

Panax ginseng is a petite root vegetable native to the mountains of Eastern Asia. It’s been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and is commonly sold in herbal supplements.

As an adaptogen, ginseng helps your body better respond to stress. It might also boost sperm quality and count — but what about sexual performance and desire?

In a 2021 Cochrane Review of nine studies involving 600 adult men with ED, researchers examined the sexual health effects of ginseng. While the authors noted ginseng may improve the ability of men to have sex, no significant benefits were observed for sexual desire.

In another study of 60 men with ED, researchers found that erectile function significantly improved after participants took 1,000 milligrams of Korean red ginseng three times a day for 12 weeks.

5. Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo biloba has a long history in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s said to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow, but research is limited and mixed. 

For example, one older study looked at roughly 60 men and women with SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. It found that those who were given 60 to 240 milligrams of Ginkgo biloba per day experienced an improvement in sexual desire, excitement and ability to achieve orgasm. However, a follow-up study published a few years later found no such improvements.

6. Fenugreek

Fenugreek leaves and seeds are most often used in South Asian dishes. One reason this herb is thought to have aphrodisiac effects is that it contains compounds your body may use to make sex hormones.

In one study, 60 men without ED were given either 600 milligrams of a fenugreek-containing supplement or a placebo daily for six weeks. Those who received fenugreek reported improved libido and orgasms. However, the supplement also contained other nutrients that may benefit male sexual health, like zinc.

7. Pistachios

Pistachios are small, flavorful green nuts that take more time to de-shell than to eat — but the potential sexual arousal benefits might be worth the labor. 

One study involving 17 males with ED found that consuming 100 grams of pistachios daily for three weeks improved erections by enhancing blood flow to the penis. That said, this was a small study with no placebo group for comparison. 

8. Tribulus Terrestris

Growing in dry climates around the world, the Tribulus terrestris plant produces yellow flowers and spine-covered fruit. Some research suggests it could boost arousal and sexual satisfaction.

For instance, one study found that sexual desire increased by 79 percent among men with reduced sex drive who took 750 to 1,500 milligrams a day for two months.

9. Walnuts 

Walnuts are a symbol of fertility. They may also support sexual function and act indirectly as an aphrodisiac. 

They’re rich in a specific omega-3 fatty acid called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which is vital for optimal brain health and function. Additionally, walnuts contain polyphenols and vitamin E, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.

10. Strawberries

Going back to Greece — or rather, Greek mythology — strawberries are said to have originated from Aphrodite’s heart-shaped tears when learning of her lover’s death.

On a happier note, you can dip them in chocolate and enjoy them with your partner as a sexy delight for date night. 

They’re full of vitamin C, an antioxidant and nutrient crucial for the production of hormones like oxytocin, which is associated with arousal.

11. Figs

Some people say figs have a sexually suggestive appearance, which explains why they’re associated with love and fertility. They’re also high in amino acids, which may support increased libido and sexual stamina. 

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Other Erotic Foods

There may not be a ton of evidence pointing to true aphrodisiac effects of foods, but plenty have been called erotic.  

Oysters

Oysters contain several nutrients that might help support sexual health and function. They’re a great source of zinc, which may be important for testosterone production, maintaining healthy testosterone levels and male fertility in general.

Not to mention, how they look, feel and are eaten could provide some sexual sensory benefits, if that’s your thing.

Chocolate

Chocolate makes everything better, if you ask us. Producing a transient feeling of well-being, it might even be one of the best foods to eat to last longer in bed.

Some surveys have found an association between chocolate intake and increased desire for sex — and not just on Valentine’s Day.

Whether you’re drizzling it on your partner or a bowl of ice cream, dark chocolate contains compounds called flavonoids that improve blood flow. And blood flow is a critical component of healthy erections.

Honey

Does honey make you last longer? You’re not the first guy to ask this, but the answer is unclear.

Some researchers think compounds in honey (like nitric oxide) may reduce blood pressure and improve blood flow, supporting sexual health.

Bananas

For many people, bananas trigger a memory of learning how to apply a condom in health class. Beyond their phallic shape, there aren’t many evidence-based benefits of bananas sexually.

However, they contain potassium, which may support healthy blood flow and erections.

Pomegranate 

You might want to add pomegranate juice to your list of drinks to last longer in bed. Why? The fruit contains compounds that may help improve blood flow and lower oxidative stress.

Some research suggests eating pomegranate (or drinking it in juice form) could enhance circulation, which we know is important for erections. However, we can’t find any research suggesting that this fruit is a true aphrodisiac.

Chasteberry 

Chasteberry is the fruit of the chaste tree. Ironically, it may have gotten its name due to an old belief that eating it promoted chastity (abstinence from sex).

Inconclusive studies have examined the potential effects of chasteberry on female infertility. But it’s most commonly used for symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

Alternatives to Aphrodisiacs for Sexual Performance

There’s not enough research to say whether certain foods have true aphrodisiac qualities. They can still be fun to experiment with, but if you’re seeking a solution for sexual dysfunction, there are more reliable alternatives.

PDE5 Inhibitors and PE Treatments

If you’re struggling with erectile dysfunction, a good first line of treatment is a category of drugs called PDE5 inhibitors. These work by increasing blood flow to your penis, supporting firmer, longer-lasting erections.

Common PDE5 inhibitors include: 

You might also consider our hard mints. These chewable ED meds contain the same active ingredients in Cialis®, Levitra® and Staxyn® at personalized dosages.

If premature ejaculation is an issue, there are medications for this. Ask your healthcare provider about topical PE treatments like Clockstopper benzocaine wipes or Delay Spray.

Some PE medications are used off-label, meaning they’re prescribed for premature ejaculation even though that’s not their primary treatment purpose. These medications include:

You can access these medications online through our telehealth platform.

Sex Toys

If it’s not so much a physical problem as a stimulation problem, there’s no shame in trying sex toys, like:

We have these toys available to order online.

Mental Health Treatment

Sex isn’t very fun (or easy) when your mind is elsewhere.

Whether it’s sexual performance anxiety, depression or anxiety keeping you from living your best (sex) life, getting help for psychological ED can be a game-changer. Several types of therapy can be helpful for better sex.

Healthy Lifestyle Habits

Sexual health isn’t independent of overall health. Lifestyle habits can have a big impact on performance and satisfaction.

Everyday actions to support sexual health include:

Even a few small changes can make a big difference not just in your sex life but in how you feel overall.

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Aphrodisiac Foods: The Bottom Line

Some people say the way to the heart is through the stomach — and perhaps that’s true for many of us. But aphrodisiacs might not be the answer to your sexual woes.

Consider the following: 

  • Aphrodisiac foods lack solid evidence. While these foods can be a fun, flirty way to naturally enhance date night, they’re unlikely to treat long-term issues. That’s not to say they won’t provide any benefit, but the science is too limited to tell quite yet.

  • Sexual dysfunction requires more reliable treatment. If you’re struggling with a clinical issue, like ED or PE, seek a tried-and-true prescription. Ask your healthcare provider about erectile dysfunction medications and premature ejaculation treatments, as well as the potential side effects.

  • Everyday habits matter. Your overall health affects your sex life. Take care of your body and mind through things like exercise, a healthy diet and mental health support. These habits can help reduce your need for aphrodisiacs and prescriptions in the long run.

Want to pursue professional help for a sexual problem like ED? Start by taking our free quiz, and we’ll help you navigate the next steps.

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Editorial Standards

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references. See a mistake? Let us know at [email protected]!

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. Learn more about our editorial standards here.

Kristin Hall, FNP

Kristin Hall is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner with decades of experience in clinical practice and leadership. 

She has an extensive background in Family Medicine as both a front-line healthcare provider and clinical leader through her work as a primary care provider, retail health clinician and as Principal Investigator with the NIH

Certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center, she brings her expertise in Family Medicine into your home by helping people improve their health and actively participate in their own healthcare. 

Kristin is a St. Louis native and earned her master’s degree in Nursing from St. Louis University, and is also a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners. You can find Kristin on LinkedIn for more information.

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