Come to think of it, Popeye and Olive Oyl were always chasing one another around. Eating spinach will not only help you get Victoria’s Secret-ready—thanks to its appetite-suppressing compounds—but it will also put you in the mood by increasing blood flow below the belt. “Spinach is rich in magnesium, a mineral that decreases inflammation in blood vessels, increasing blood flow,” explains Cassie Bjork, RD, LD of Healthy Simple Life. “Increased blood flow drives blood to the extremities, which, like Viagra, can increase arousal and make sex more pleasurable,” says psychotherapist and sex expert Tammy Nelson Ph.D. “Women will find it is easier to have an orgasm, and men will find that erections come more naturally.”
2. Green Tea
The secret to a hotter nightlife starts with a hot cup of tea. Green tea is rich in compounds called catechins, which have been shown to blast away belly fat and speed the liver’s capacity for turning fat into energy. But that’s not all: Catechins also boost desire by promoting blood flow to your nether regions. “Catechins kill off free radicals that damage and inflame blood vessels, increasing their ability to transport blood,” says Bjork. “Catechins also cause blood vessel cells to release nitric oxide, which increases the size of the blood vessels, leading to improved blood flow,” she explains.
Pine nuts, one of the key ingredients in pesto sauce, are exceptionally high in zinc, and women with higher levels of zinc in their system have been shown to have a higher sex drive than those with lower levels.
4. Red Wine
If you’re looking for a way to simultaneously boost your libido and calm those pre-date jitters, pour yourself a glass of red. Women who drank one to two glasses had heightened sexual desire compared to ladies who didn’t down any vino, a Journal of Sexual Medicine study found. (Just be sure to cut yourself off after your second glass; enjoying more than that didn’t stimulate any further arousal, and knocking back too much can stop the show before it starts.) What makes the elixir so beneficial is a rich antioxidant profile that triggers nitric oxide production in the blood, which relaxes artery walls. As with many of the foods on this list, that increases blood flow down south.
5. Steaks and Burgers
If your crazy-busy schedule is to blame for your lack of libido, you’re not alone. “One of the primary reasons couples stop having sex is because they’re tired, fatigued and stressed. But sometimes, there’s a biological component at play,” says Nelson. One of the causes of fatigue in women is iron deficiency. The condition can sap energy, which may result in a low sex drive, explains Nelson. Bjork concurs, adding, “Iron deficiency is common and can result in feelings of exhaustion, weakness and irritability, which doesn’t make anyone feel like getting intimate.”
6. Fatty Fish
It’s no secret that oily coldwater fish like wild salmon, sardines, and tuna are overflowing with omega-3 fatty acids, but here’s something you may not know: The nutrient not only benefits your heart but also raises dopamine levels in the brain. This spike in dopamine improves circulation and blood flow, triggering arousal, Bjork and Nelson explain. There’s more: “Dopamine will make you feel more relaxed and connected to your partner, which makes sex more fun,” adds Nelson.
A recent survey discovered that the #1 spot for first dates is Starbucks. Looks like we’ve figured out why. In a recent study–albeit on animals–coffee consumption was found to make females more eager to engage in sex, and more likely to want it again after a brief rest. But studies show that men are more sensitive to caffeine than women are; guys begin to react within 10 minutes of sipping joe. Since decaf also creates an enhanced level of alertness, a buzz-free bean might be the right pick-me-up for guys who want to avoid first-date jitters.
8. Dark Chocolate
Good news, chocolate lovers: Your go-to indulgence can help get you in the mood. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids that have been shown to reduce stress and relax blood vessels, sending blood to all the right regions—no Twinkie can claim that. Those same flavonoids can also help diminish body fat, which can boost your confidence in bed, making it easier to focus on the main attraction. Just be sure to avoid the worst dark chocolates for weight loss and instead, opt for an ounce of our go-to bar, Lindt 85% Cocoa Excellence. It carries notes of sweet stone fruits and, unlike other bars, doesn’t contain alkalized cocoa, which contains far fewer beneficial flavonoids.