By Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD
The phrase you are what you eat is absolutely true. So if you want to feel well, frisky, fold these five foods into your eating repertoire. Nothing exotic necessary!
They're a great source of zinc, which has been shown to boost sex drive by pumping up testosterone. Use them as a garnish for just about any dish, from your morning oatmeal to a garden salad, stir fry, or dessert (try dipping whole strawberries in melted dark chocolate then rolling in roasted pumpkin seeds).
Any food that's good for the heart is good for the loins because heart-healthy foods keep arteries clear and boost circulation to allow blood, oxygen and nutrients to flow freely! In addition to heart-healthy fat, one ounce of almonds provides 35 percent of your daily vitamin E needs, another sex hormone booster and powerful antioxidant that prevents arteries from hardening, the top cause of poor blood flow. One ounce (twenty three almonds) makes a perfect portable anytime snack - toss them into an empty Altoids tin and stash in your bag, desk drawer or glove compartment.
The antioxidants in soy provide natural lubrication for women and are one of the top foods for protecting men's prostates. Soy also helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure (so great for circulation) and one study found that soy compounds may help you look better naked by creating fewer and smaller fat cells. Order as an appetizer next time you go out for sushi.
Wheat germ is a good source of arginine, an amino acid that boosts nitric oxide, a compound that relaxes blood vessels, increasing blood flow to "certain parts" of the body. Arginine is also involved in the production of anti-aging hormones. Wheat germ's nutty flavor makes it a great addition to hot or cold cereal or a fruit smoothie and it's a terrific garnish for grilled, roasted or steamed veggies (especially broccoli and Brussels sprouts).
Juicy watermelon contains a natural substance called citrulline, which gets converted into arginine (discussed above). Watermelon is also rich in the antioxidant lycopene, which keeps men's prostates healthy. Citrulline is found in higher concentrations in the rind, so be sure to bite into the white part at least a little bit. And it's 92 percent water so it re-hydrates if things get sweaty!
4 More Fun Facts:
• According to the Smell and Taste Foundation in Chicago, the smell of buttered popcorn gets men pumped up, but among all the odors tested, the combination of pumpkin pie and lavender produced the greatest increase in arousal in men (a 40 percent increase in penile blood flow).
• The scent of grapefruit makes women appear about 6 years younger to men.
• 30 minutes of sex burns 150-200 calories.
• Alcohol and smoking both reduce sex drive, so instead of a bar, cruise your local Farmer's Market!
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