Feed your sexual stamina—without the little blue pill

There’s no denying that the little blue pill has been a miracle for Big Pharma…and for thousands of men who have put it to use in the decade since Bob Dole became the world’s most unlikely poster boy for erectile function. (Remember those commercials? Feels like ages ago!).

But for years, I’ve been telling my patients the same secret I’m about to share with you today: You don’t need the little blue pill to rev up your sex life.

In fact, you may not need any pills at all.

There are dozens of easy ways to get the libido boost you crave simply by indulging in some delicious–and decadent–foods. So let’s start with one of the more well-known aphrodisiacs and take it from there…

Igniting the spark

The first food that comes to everyone’s mind when you say the word “aphrodisiac” is the oyster.

Raw oysters are the richest source of natural zinc.

Zinc has been shown to increase testosterone production. And testosterone is the hormone that controls sex drive in both men and women.

So, yes, even women need to make sure their testosterone levels are optimal (something many mainstream M.D.s completely overlook).

Of course, I’ve found that when it comes to oysters, there doesn’t seem to be any “in between”– you either love ’em or you hate ’em. But don’t worry if you fall into the latter category…I’ve got lots more ground to cover. And I can guarantee that my list of aphrodisiacs has something for everyone, including some items that might surprise you.

Like black tea, for example.

It has been used by the Chinese for centuries to enhance sexual performance. And there have been a handful of clinical studies to back up that traditional use–including one published a few years ago in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology.

In this study, researchers noted that black tea offered “marked aphrodisiac activity.” Even better, the effects occurred quickly–and didn’t cause any harmful side effects.

And if you want to bump the libido-boosting effects up another notch, throw a few cloves into the cup while you’re steeping your tea. Some research published in the journal BioMed Central showed that clove may enhance both performance and desire.

Granted, these particular studies were done in mice, which isn’t typically my first choice when looking for supporting data. But given their long histories of use–not to mention their spotless track records in terms of safety–there’s no reason not to give black tea and clove a try if you need a libido boost.

Of course, it can’t hurt to support the mechanics involved in a healthy sex life while you’re at it. And there are some equally simple, easy foods that can help you with that as well…

Stoking the fire

Topping the list of foods that help support sexualfunction on a physical level are things that increase nitric oxide production in the body.

Nitric oxide helps blood vessels relax, which eases blood flow throughout the body. And this isn’t only good for helping men achieve erections-it also helps bring blood flow to the clitoris, enhancing sexual stimulation for women as well.

Foods that can give you this boost include:

  • Garlic. I know–you spent years avoiding “garlic breath” on dates. But it turns out garlic’s active ingredient, allicin, has been proven to pump up nitric oxide, making it a key performance-booster. Also, have you ever tried roasted garlic cloves? It’s amazingly simple and so delicious served warm with macadamia nut oil…an absolutely sensual indulgence!
  • Walnuts, pistachios, and almonds. According to a study in the International Journal of Impotence Research, walnuts and pistachios are abundant sources of l-arginine, one of the primary building blocks of nitric oxide. And almonds are rich in vitamin E, which can also increase nitric oxide.
  • Salmon, mackerel, herring, lake trout, sardines, and albacore tuna are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which deliver a three-fold increase in nitric oxide production, according to the journal Fertility and Sterility. A daily fish oil supplement can also help get the job done (and is a good idea anyway)…but eating the real thing is much more enjoyable, and will boost your efforts even further.
  • Watermelon is high in citrulline, yet another nitric-oxide star. (Plus, watermelon’s fructose content is remarkably low, so it’s one of the fruits you can indulge in without increasing your waistline–or your diabetes risk.)

The next class of biological wonders that enhance sexual performance and desire are flavonoids. The flavonoids in cherries, red, blue, and purple berries cleanse free radicals from to improved blood flow.

But no discussion of aphrodisiacs is complete without mentioning the next item on my list…

Keeping the embers hot

Of course, chocolate lends itself well to romance as it is, but there’s quite a bit of scientific evidence behind it, too.

According to a study published in 2006 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, women who reported eating chocolate on a daily basis had significantly higher scores on the Female Sexual Function Index– particularly when it came to desire–than women who didn’t eat chocolate. There’s also been a tremendous amount of research linking chocolate to improved blood flow. For example, another study, published in 2009 in the journal Circulation found that dark chocolate significantly improved circulation–which, again, is an integral part of arousal in both men and women.

Of course, when you’re choosing chocolate, it’s important to go for the dark variety–which has shown the most benefits in studies. And the darker the better!

The good news is, these days you don’t have to go out of your way to find it. I’ve seen bars containing as much as 80% cacao in the regular supermarket (the higher the percentage the better).

But your best bet is to buy unsweetened chocolate or cocoa powder and sweeten it yourself with stevia. That way you get all the health benefits of the chocolate and none of the harmful effect of sugar.

Finally, rounding out my list of performance boosting delicacies is my personal favorite–butter.

It’s rich, creamy, decadent…and when it comes from grass-fed and -finished cows (meaning they’ve never been fed grains), it’s a fantastic source of vitamin K2 which also helps improve circulation to those ever-important areas of the anatomy. You can find organic grass-fed butter in markets like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.