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Top 6 Foods That Increase Sex Drive Based on Science

By Liam McAuliffe Updated on

Foods that increase sex drive and performance are a universal fascination. From ancient myths to modern nutrition, the quest for aphrodisiacs—foods that light the loins–has been fraught with a confusing combination of observational wisdom, fantasy, and dogma.

In this article, we’ll explore the foods that truly increase sex drive based on a scientific understanding of specific nutrients that promote sexual desire and function, rebalance hormones that drive sexual desire, and relieve underlying conditions that can inhibit libido. 

Table of Contents

What Kinds of Foods are True Aphrodisiacs?

Getting naughty requires eating the foods that have been deemed naughty. Naughty, libido-boosting foods are high in fat and cholesterol, dense with vital nutrients, and they come from animal sources. 

Red meat, organ meat, shellfish, fish, eggs, butter, and cheese fuel the reproductive fires on a cellular level. It’s no surprise that these foods have been valued by traditional cultures across the world as a key to the creation of life from desire to conception to birth. 

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Fat Fuels Sex Drive

Numerous studies show that consuming healthy animal fats is key to producing the sex hormones responsible for sex drive in both men and women.

A 2021 systematic review (the gold standard of research) looking at all the studies examining the relationship between low-fat diets and testosterone found that going low-fat decreases testosterone.

Likewise, studies on women have found that low-fat diets dramatically reduced estrogen levels. And though this may be desirable when combatting breast cancer, it will torpedo sex drive and cause vaginal dryness, poor sleep, and mood swings.

What are Anti-Sex Drive Foods?

On the other hand, the foods that make up the bulk of the standard American diet are anti-libidinal. 

Processed foods, grainsvegetable oils, and added sugars have all been shown to reduce sex drive and function, cause sperm counts to plummet, and reduce fertility in both men and women. 

In Kate Devlin’s book Turned On, she describes how John Harvey Kellogg invented cornflakes to help people reduce sexual urges. He was so anti-sex and anti-pleasure that he recommended that women burn off their clitoris with carbolic acid. He himself slept in a different room from his wife, didn’t have sex, and adopted their children. 

Modern studies support his approach. High-carb/sugar diets increase the hormone insulin and reduce sensitivity to the hormone leptin. Both of these sugar/carb-induced hormone imbalances dramatically reduce testosterone–the sex hormone most responsible for sex drive and performance.

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Top 6 Foods that Boost Sex Drive

Now, let’s take a closer look at the nutrient-dense ancestral foods that increase sex drive. 

1. Ribeye steak

Japanese wagyu rib eye beef meat steak. Gray background. Top view.

Ribeye steak is one of the most nutritionally complete foods on earth. In fact, it’s entirely possible to thrive on a carnivore elimination diet of ribeye, salt, and water. 

And contrary to popular dogma, there is exactly ZERO evidence that fresh red meat is associated or casually linked to an increased risk of cancer.

Ribeye is a robust source of numerous sex-drive-boosting nutrients, including healthy fats, B vitamins, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein. 

Ribeye provides 173% of your RDV of zinc per 8 oz serving. In men, low levels of zinc are associated with erectile dysfunction and lower sperm count.

In addition to these listed nutrients, ribeye steak is also a rare source of meat-specific micronutrients that play a macro role in sexual desire and function, including carnitine, creatine, taurine, and carnosine. 

Found almost exclusively in red meat, carnitine has been found to increase sperm motility and morphology.

ribeye steak with nutritional facts


2. Oysters

Young couple feeding each other with fresh oyster.

Oysters have been revered as a food that increases sex drive since at least the 1700s when the romancing Italian Cassanova proclaimed that oysters fueled his sexual adventures.

The legend of Cassanova’s oyster has been increasingly validated by the scientific community ever since. 

In 2005, chemistry professor George Fisher found that oysters (and mussels) provide amino acids that specifically increase sex drive.

As with many of the other foods on this list, oysters are also extremely high in zinc, providing over 600% your RDV in a 3.5 oz serving. This is about 6 medium size oysters.

Eating oysters with ribeye steak will help balance out all that zinc with the copper in ribeye–an important measure to avoid overdosing on zinc.

Oysters are also a fantastic source of libido-boosting nutrients

  • B12 (324%)
  • vitamin D (80% RDV)
  • selenium (91% RDV).

These nutrients work together to provide powerful antioxidant properties that protect against inflammation.

Inflammation has been shown to predict sexual dysfunction in both men and women–so a key to boosting sex drive is getting it under control.  Oysters to the rescue! 

The vitamin D in oysters deserves special attention. For one, it’s very difficult to get from food sources. And it’s been shown to a vital role in men’s and women’s sexual function and drive.

Studies on men have found vitamin D deficiency linked with erectile function, lower orgasmic function, and lower sexual desire.

For women, vitamin D levels are associated with sexual dysfunction that increases in severity with a decrease in D.

3. Clams and Mussels

Clams and mussels with garlic served in a casserole

Clams provide more vitamin B12 than any other food, with 4120% per 100 grams (3.5 oz serving). At the same time, mussels are up there with 1000%. 

Both clams and mussels provide over 100% RDV of selenium.7 

Studies on men have found that low levels of B12 are associated with sexual dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

For both men and women, low B12 is associated with fatigue and low mood–not very sexy states to be in.

The selenium in clams and mussels boosts the production of testosterone, proper testicle development, sperm count, and semen quality. All of which are directly linked to a healthy sex drive.

4. Beef Liver

Grilled beef liver on skewers, with teriyaki or soy sauce, yakitori, dark rusty table copy space top view

Beef liver is incredibly high in numerous nutrients that increase sex drive and support overall sexual function, including 

  • Vitamin B12: 2471%
  • Vitamin B6: 84%
  • Selenium 57% 
  • Choline 61%

In addition to the vitamins and minerals discussed above, vitamin B6 increases sex drive by regulating estrogen and testosterone production and supporting red blood cells, serotonin, and dopamine production. In animal studies, B6 has been found to increase ejaculate and reduce the time between ejaculation intervals.

But perhaps the most sex-drive supportive feature of beef liver is it’s mysterious anti-fatigue factor. 

Since the 1950’s beef liver has been known to support incredible stamina. It was first discovered in an experiment involving rats swimming in a barrel. Where the liver-fed rats literally outlasted the patience of the experimenters, swimming for 2 hours without drowning. Unfortunately, their compatriots who were either fasted or fed only b12 supplements all drowned around 13 minutes in.

5. Eggs

sexy bare-chested man in apron pointing with finger at egg carton

Eggs are another remarkably nutritionally complete food. People hip to the superfood benefits of eggs have even begun practicing egg-fasts

Eggs are high in cholesterol, and all key sex hormones, including progesterone, pregnenolone, estrogen, and testosterone, are synthesized by cholesterol.

Not surprisingly, several studies have associated statins that reduce cholesterol with lower testosterone, erectile dysfunction, and decreased libido.

Eggs are also a great source of choline, with 2 eggs providing 50% of your RDV. 

Choline has been found to play a key role in erections, and supplementation with choline has been shown to be effective in reducing erectile and ejaculation problems induced by antidepressant use.

In one interesting case, a 79-year-old man on regular choline supplementation for 6 weeks experienced such an extreme sex drive that he became the subject of a major paper on the subject.

6. Aged Cheese

Different kinds of delicious cheese on table

Aged dairy is rich in bioactive compounds called polyamines.

Aged cheeses are usually the stinky, flavorful kinds like 

  • Roquefort
  • Danablu
  • Carbrales
  • Gorgonzola
  • Blue Stilton
  • Parmesan 

The bioactive compounds in these blue and aged cheeses have been found to improve sperm quality in men and egg quality in women.

One of these compounds is even called spermidine because it was first discovered in semen. 

Indeed, spermadine is associated with sperm production and vitality. At the same time, infertile men have been found to have low levels of spermadine.

Research has found that spermadine supplementation increased testosterone and reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol and oestradiol (a type of estrogen in men). Both cortisol and oestradiol have been found to impede sexual desire and performance.

Spermidine has even been found to delay aging in humans by providing powerful anti-inflammatory effects in nearly every major organ–including the sex organs.7

outline of two bodies showing effects of spermidine

Source: Madeo, Frank & Carmona-Gutierrez, Didac & Kepp, Oliver & Kroemer, Guido. (2018). Spermidine delays aging in humans.

Foods that Increase Sex Drive: The Bottom Line

The foods that increase sex drive are rich in the macro and micronutrients our bodies need to synthesize and regulate sex hormones, support emotional mood and physical stamina, and reduce inflammation. 

Foods including fresh red meat, shellfish, eggs, organ meats, and full-fat dairy fit this bill like no others. 

These nutrient-dense whole foods are loaded with B vitamins, healthy fats, zinc, selenium, choline, cholesterol, and bioactive compounds that fuel psycho-physical sexual desire and performance.

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