Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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’s well-known aphrodisiac properties are limited on the science. 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 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.
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.
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.