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12 Foods you should be eating to kick your sex drive up a gear

Sex is awesome. Food is awesome. Together, they form a huge part of what makes life worth living, in my opinion. But in our daily lives, you don't usually have that many opportunities to put the two together. Sure, some women like to eat McDonald's fries before sex, but on the other hand, the idea behind chocolate being an aphrodisiac is way overrated.

There are, however, a couple of ways you can use one of your two favorite activities to make the other favorite activity a lot more fun. Yes, you can have sex right before you head out to dinner to really work up an appetite, or you can eat a couple of these foods to really boost your sex drive.

1. Spinach

You may or may not be familiar with Popeye, the old-timey cartoon that involved plenty of shenanigans with belligerent octopuses or brutish, bearded adversaries. Whenever our hero Popeye encountered a problem, he usually used a can of delicious spinach to help him save the day, and who's to say that didn't extend to the bedroom, when he succeeded in winning the heart of his main squeeze Olive Oyl? “Spinach is rich in magnesium, a mineral that decreases inflammation in blood vessels, increasing blood flow,” says Cassie Bjork of Healthy Simple Life, while psychotherapist and sex expert Tammy Nelson thinks that “increased blood flow drives blood to the extremities" mean that "women will find it is easier to have an orgasm, and men will find that erections come more naturally”.

2. Chili peppers

While the jury's still out on whether the California rock band Red Hot Chili Peppers can positively affect your sex drive, when it comes to edible chili peppers, the spicier, the better! Hot peppers help to boost your metabolism and stimulate endorphins in your body, making you sweat, plumping your lips, and altogether improving your blood flow. All of that adds up to some better sex, with more... pleasurable endings. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly before spicing things up in the bedroom, however. Touching your partner down there with all that jalapeño business... does not sound fun.

3. Oysters

Eating oysters doesn't always turn out well for the parties involved, but if you can find a restaurant that can shuck and prepare them safely, then I recommend you get as many down you as possible during a date to help boost your sex drive. Your favorite seafood is brimming with zinc, which is a mineral that elevates testosterone levels and boosts your growth factor hormones - improving muscle growth and, yes, elevating physical prowess.

4. Pumpkin seeds

We all love our Pumpkin-Spiced lattes, but it turns out that everyone's favorite autumn spice might have more applications than simply making our Instagram feeds look amazing. Pumpkin seeds are one of the best sources out there for an amino acid known as tryptophan, which helps the construction of the feel-good hormone serotonin in our brains. So pumpkin seeds will help you boost your mood, and if you eat enough of them, they may even get you in the mood too.

5. Bananas

For some people, there's nothing sexier than watching their significant other eat a banana. The... suggestive shape of the yellow fruit might make the jump between food and frisky a little bit easier, but the nutritional properties of a banana make it a good sex food for different reasons entirely. Bananas, as you know, are pretty high in potassium, and potassium is good for negativing the negative effects of sodium. One of those effects is - wouldn't you know it - poor blood flow, making it difficult to achieve orgasm.

6. Salmon and other fatty fish

If you're a regular reader here, you'll know that while there isn't any one food that can make you healthy, you can do a lot worse than eating salmon on a regular basis. Now, you can add increased virility to the laundry list of reasons you should splurge on that lox bagel. Salmon and other fatty fish are loaded with Omega-3 oils, and they help to increase dopamine in your brain. Not only will your blood flow increase, but as Bjork and Nelson explain: "Dopamine will make you feel more relaxed and connected to your partner, which makes sex more fun.” Need I say more?

7. Coffee

Getting to know someone over a coffee is a nice, low-key journey into the complicated caverns of love, but of all the foods on this list, coffee might be the most important in helping to improve your sex drive. It's loaded with stimulants, which studies have shown is all you need to put your partner in the mood. So yeah: maybe head upstairs for that cup of coffee after the date.

8. Red wine

If you're anything like me, drinking a glass of house red on a date is pretty much the only way I'm not so nervous I immediately say something embarrassing and ruin my evening. So it's pretty lucky that the fermented grapes also offer a second benefit to your love life. Red wine has a rich antioxidant benefit profile that triggers nitric oxide production in your blood, which relaxes your artery walls and improves your ability to get sufficiently aroused. What's more; a study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that women who drank between one and two glasses of wine had an overall higher sex drive than the women who did not. Just be sure to cut yourself off after that second glass; the effect doesn't scale, and take it from me that there's nothing less sexy on a date than throwing up and falling asleep.

9. Pomegranate juice

If you're a guy and you find yourself frequently "cooking with a wet noodle", so to speak, then a recent study published in the International Journal of Impotence Research says that your erectile dysfunction could be effectively treated with a nice glass of pomegranate juice. In sexual arousal, adequate blood flow is key, and pomegranate juice is loaded with anti-oxidants that help to promote just that.

10. Steak and burgers

“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 our resident sexpert Nelson. For women, one of the biggest causes of fatigue is iron deficiency. “Iron deficiency is common and can result in feelings of exhaustion, weakness, and irritability, which doesn’t make anyone feel like getting intimate," says Bjork, and the best remedy for that is a nice, big ol' steak. Maybe even a burger. Or two.

11. Garlic

Way back in human history, when we had no bacon to feed us or internet to keep us company, the Ancient Egyptians used garlic in the bedroom to boost their stamina. While modern-day scientists haven't yet found any evidence that our ancestors experienced better stamina as a result of their (probably really stinky) sex, they might have been onto something. By eating garlic, research found that the formation of nanoplaques - that is, fatty deposits in your arteries - was drastically decreased. Yes, that includes the arteries delivering blood flow to your downstairs area.

12. Oatmeal

Although it's not the first food you think of when you think of passionate lovemaking (or the second, or the third, or the fourth), oatmeal is great for the average guy who wants to last long enough to give his partner an orgasm. The breakfast of champions is a great source of l-arginine, which is an amino acid which is pretty handy at curing erectile dysfunction. As well as that, oatmeal is also super effective at lowering your cholesterol. If your cholesterol levels are high enough, this may result in something known as atherosclerosis, where your arteries clog up with tons of deposits, impairing your blood flow. This will eventually manifest itself in some serious heart problems, but you'll probably notice the erectile dysfunction first.

So there you have it, folks! I can't tell you what to eat to help you get a date (though I know what to put on your dating profile), but once you get your desired person in the bedroom, you've now got the nutritional tools you need to give them the lovemaking experience of a lifetime. Good luck! Please don't feel like you have to tell me how it went in the comments.