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12 Foods to Eat Before Sex to Last Longer

Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Reviewed by Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Published 06/28/2023

Updated 03/05/2024

Between sleepy food comas after a big meal and the regret-inducing bloat of the occasional overindulgence, most of us don’t associate the sensation of a full stomach with arousal. In fact, you’d probably agree that eating a bunch before sex is a pretty great predictor of bad sex in general.

Aphrodisiacs — foods said to stimulate desire and arousal — may be the one exception. But exactly how much benefit can supposed sex-benefitting foods bring you? This is a tough question to answer. 

While the scientific community has been researching the benefits of certain foods for years, not a single one has been shown to take men from hungry to horny and keep them indefinitely. However, modest research has cautiously linked some foods to improved erectile function, stamina and arousal.

Below, we’ll cover what you can expect from sex-improving foods, the 12 foods that offer the most promise in giving your libido a boost, and what you should actually do if you want to last longer in bed. (Hint: You have to do more than chow down).

As much as we’d like to tell you that hitting the right Trader Joe’s aisle will add four minutes to your intimate activities, the relationship between food and stamina is far less direct than you might hope. Your penis is not Popeye, and spinach isn’t going to give it swole superpowers. 

Eating a dozen bananas a day or munching on raw garlic during snack time won’t double your stamina — in fact, the garlic might prevent you from having much sex at all unless you have a very strong toothpaste.

Foods are not an approved treatment for premature ejaculation (PE), either. And although a few have been explored for PE benefits, you’re better off addressing early arrival through another proven treatment option, like particular antidepressants or techniques to help you better control your orgasms.

As for erectile dysfunction (ED) — which may be cutting down on your stamina in other ways — there’s a higher-level connection between ED and diet, as well as weight and lifestyle. While specific foods don’t act as medications for ED, shifting an unhealthy diet away from certain fats, high-cholesterol foods and sugar has been shown to improve erectile function.

For the guy who’s seen his health decline a bit with age, a few dietary changes might make an impact. 

Healthy food brings other potential benefits to the table, too, like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and key nutrients for erectile function and anti-inflammation. It’s a whole-body blueprint that’ll inevitably help you build the perfect sex life. Think of healthy foods as very necessary electrical lines that give you energy and essential nutrients.

Someday in the future, any number of foods (including those below) might lead researchers to a magic pill. But for now, you can consider foods part of an overall erectile health plan, alongside sleep and exercise.

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Your diet is an essential part of your health, from your ability to breathe and pump blood through your body to your penis’s ability to use that blood to form an erection. So think of the health benefits of food as a positive trickle-down effect for your sex life.

According to science, the best foods to help you last longer in bed are:

Let’s look at why each of these foods made the list in more detail.

Bananas 

Bananas are rich in potassium, which is well-known for its role in various bodily functions. This includes heart, nerve and muscle contraction — all of which are necessary for your penis to get hard, stay hard and reach orgasm.

Maintaining healthy blood pressure levels is important for overall cardiovascular health and potentially sexual stamina, as potassium deficiency has been linked to vascular disease and high blood pressure.

Beets

A substantial amount of research has suggested that beets (and the nitrates they contain) can lower blood pressure and should be part of a healthy diet for people with hypertension.

There’s no study about their sexual benefits specifically, but since nitrates convert to the nitric oxide needed for blood vessel dilation, you can draw a cautious line between a beet and your meat.

Garlic

We know garlic isn’t the best breath ingredient for your romantic life. But since it contains compounds like allicin that promote blood vessel dilation and increase nitric oxide production, it’s a potential superfood for your penis’s blood flow. Improved blood circulation may indirectly support sexual stamina.

Fatty Fish

Switching a steak out for salmon might point your dessert plans in the right direction. Fatty fish like salmon, mackerel and tuna are incredibly beneficial for heart health and (potentially) sexual performance because they’re high in omega-3 fatty acids and contain zinc, which can encourage healthy blood flow.

Oysters

Oysters are known to be an aphrodisiac, and there’s actually some science behind why. First, they’re a rich source of zinc, which (in addition to the benefits we’ve already mentioned) is important for testosterone production — an essential ingredient of sexual desire.

It should be noted, though, that dietary zinc isn’t really going to provide testosterone benefits unless you have an existing deficiency. Still, they’re quite tasty, even if the sexual perks don’t hold up.

Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, zinc and a heap of other beneficial nutrients. Flavonoid-rich foods have been associated with lower ED rates. Between that and the other nutritional benefits, it makes sense to pack your fruit plate, breakfast and any other snacking opportunities with as many of these little guys as possible.

Learn about another fruit with potential benefits in our blog on the sexual benefits of mangos.

Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate may not be as “fun” as its milky cousin, but since it contains flavonoids that improve blood flow, it’s the better option for a sex-focused chocolate fan.

Improved blood circulation may have a positive impact on sexual function and potentially contribute to improved endurance. Oh, and fun fact: If you dip strawberries in chocolate, you’ll receive added benefits from vitamin C, which some experts believe improves sex drive.

Avocados

While we can’t draw a direct line between avocado toast and better sex, there’s more to it than the influencers may believe. Avocados contain healthy fats and vitamin E, both of which can promote cardiovascular health and improve blood flow.

And avocado consumption has been generally associated with better metabolic function, meaning people who eat them are often less likely to be obese.

Nuts

A bag of snack mix might offer a few sexual benefits if you’re willing to pick through for the good stuff. Specifically, nuts and seeds contain omega-3 fatty acids and zinc, both of which contribute to cardiovascular health while helping you maintain proper blood flow — potentially supporting sexual performance.

Honey

The science on honey’s well-known aphrodisiac properties are limited. However, its natural sugars for energy may contribute to a general sense of well-being, and some studies have linked honey to a protective role in cardiovascular and reproductive health.

So yes, reach for honey instead of sugar when you can, but don’t go full bear on the local hive — the stings will be the only thing that instantly swells.

Watermelon

Watermelon is rich in an amino acid called citrulline, which is converted to arginine in the body, where it helps relax blood vessels and may improve blood flow. Watermelon also contains lycopene, which may have anti-cancer and anti-obesity benefits, according to one 2014 study.

Pomegranate

There’s no link between pomegranate and PE, but pomegranate juice may have antioxidant and cardiovascular benefits associated with better erectile function. Some studies indicate it may improve erectile function and blood flow, though more research is needed, and the existing study from 2007 looked at just 53 men.

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While these foods may have potential benefits, it’s crucial to recognize that sexual stamina is a complex issue influenced by various physical, psychological and interpersonal factors. 

Don’t look at the above list of foods as the recipe for an erectile witch’s brew. Instead, just consider incorporating more of them into your diet on a regular basis. Even if the “erectile potential” of each food isn’t supported by future research, they’re still great for your health.

Keep your mind on the big picture: 

  • YES, a balanced diet, regular exercise, stress management and open communication with a partner are essential for overall sexual health. 

  • BUT sexual superfoods aren’t a treatment for sexual dysfunction of any kind.

  • AND, at least for the time being, science suggests no single food is able to give you harder erections in any meaningful way.

  • SO, if your sexual performance has been a little lackluster recently, a healthcare professional (not a grocer) should be your primary resource for finding solutions. 

If you’re searching for solutions, our healthcare professionals can help with treatments for erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and other sexual health issues.

And if the dysfunction is all in your head (hey, it is for some people), our online therapy platform offers therapy conveniently from wherever you are to help you address those problems.

15 Sources

  1. Bonilla Ocampo, D. A., Paipilla, A. F., Marín, E., Vargas-Molina, S., Petro, J. L., & Pérez-Idárraga, A. (2018). Dietary Nitrate from Beetroot Juice for Hypertension: A Systematic Review. Biomolecules, 8(4), 134. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6316347/.
  2. Forest, C. P., Padma-Nathan, H., & Liker, H. R. (2007). Efficacy and safety of pomegranate juice on improvement of erectile dysfunction in male patients with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction: a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind, crossover study. International journal of impotence research, 19(6), 564–567. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17568759/.
  3. Naz, A., Butt, M. S., Sultan, M. T., Qayyum, M. M., & Niaz, R. S. (2014). Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims. EXCLI journal, 13, 650–660. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4464475/.
  4. Cormio, L., De Siati, M., Lorusso, F., Selvaggio, O., Mirabella, L., Sanguedolce, F., & Carrieri, G. (2011). Oral L-citrulline supplementation improves erection hardness in men with mild erectile dysfunction. Urology, 77(1), 119–122. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21195829/.
  5. Fulgoni, V. L., 3rd, Dreher, M., & Davenport, A. J. (2013). Avocado consumption is associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake, and lower metabolic syndrome risk in US adults: results from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2001-2008. Nutrition journal, 12, 1. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/6267923_Efficacy_and_safety_of_pomegranate_juice_on_improvement_of_erectile_dysfunction_in_male_patients_with_mild_to_moderate_erectile_dysfunction_A_randomized_placebo-controlled_double-blind_crossover_study.
  6. Cassidy, A., Franz, M., & Rimm, E. B. (2016). Dietary flavonoid intake and incidence of erectile dysfunction. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 103(2), 534–541. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26762373/.
  7. Pennmedicine.org. (n.d.). https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2017/february/food-for-libido.
  8. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-c). Office of dietary supplements - zinc. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/.
  9. InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006-. Premature ejaculation: Overview. 2019 Sep 12. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK547548/.
  10. Esposito, K., Giugliano, F., Maiorino, M. I., & Giugliano, D. (2010). Dietary factors, Mediterranean diet and erectile dysfunction. The journal of sexual medicine, 7(7), 2338–2345. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20487239/.
  11. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-a). Definition & Facts for erectile dysfunction - NIDDK. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/urologic-diseases/erectile-dysfunction/definition-facts.
  12. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.-b). Office of dietary supplements - potassium. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Potassium-Consumer/.
  13. Fallah, A., Mohammad-Hasani, A., & Colagar, A. H. (2018). Zinc is an Essential Element for Male Fertility: A Review of Zn Roles in Men’s Health, Germination, Sperm Quality, and Fertilization. Journal of reproduction & infertility, 19(2), 69–81. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6010824/.
  14. Borlinghaus, J., Albrecht, F., Gruhlke, M. C., Nwachukwu, I. D., & Slusarenko, A. J. (2014). Allicin: chemistry and biological properties. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 19(8), 12591–12618. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6271412/.
  15. Zaid, S. S. M., Ruslee, S. S., & Mokhtar, M. H. (2021). Protective Roles of Honey in Reproductive Health: A Review. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 26(11), 3322. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26113322https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8197897/.
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.

Kelly Brown MD, MBA
Kelly Brown MD, MBA

Dr. Kelly Brown is a board certified Urologist and fellowship trained in Andrology. She is an accomplished men’s health expert with a robust background in healthcare innovation, clinical medicine, and academic research. Dr. Brown is a founding member of Posterity Health where she is Medical Director and leads strategy and design of their Digital Health Platform, an innovative education and telehealth model for delivering expert male fertility care.

She completed her undergraduate studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (go Heels!) with a Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Science and a Minor in Chemistry. She took a position at University of California Los Angeles as a radiologic technologist in the department of Interventional Cardiology, further solidifying her passion for medicine. She also pursued the unique opportunity to lead departmental design and operational development at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, sparking her passion for the business of healthcare.

Dr. Brown then went on to obtain her doctorate in medicine from the prestigious Northwestern University - Feinberg School of Medicine and Masters in Business Administration from Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management, with a concentration in Healthcare Management. During her surgical residency in Urology at University of California San Francisco, she utilized her research year to focus on innovations in telemedicine and then served as chief resident with significant contributions to clinical quality improvement. Dr. Brown then completed her Andrology Fellowship at Medical College of Wisconsin, furthering her expertise in male fertility, microsurgery, and sexual function.

Her dedication to caring for patients with compassion, understanding, as well as a unique ability to make guys instantly comfortable discussing anything from sex to sperm makes her a renowned clinician. In addition, her passion for innovation in healthcare combined with her business acumen makes her a formidable leader in the field of men’s health.

Dr. Brown is an avid adventurer; summiting Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania (twice!) and hiking the incredible Torres del Paine Trek in Patagonia, Chile. She deeply appreciates new challenges and diverse cultures on her travels. She lives in Denver with her husband, two children, and beloved Bernese Mountain Dog. You can find Dr. Brown on LinkedIn for more information.

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