Are sexual diets fact or fiction?

A sexual diet is basically a prescribed nutritional plan that advocates the benefits of general health maintenance to improve sexual performance and possibly treat sexual complaints. Most specialized diets claim that weight reduction and decreased depressive thoughts combined with improved immunity and release of natural endorphins will promote sexuality.

Several popular diets have been marketed directly to the public for improved sexual virility and function and are discussed in the following subsections. Exercise precaution when considering any of these diets because some of these aphrodisiac-like diets can be hazardous to your health.

It is important to note that none of the diets have been shown in randomized clinical trials to enhance, improve, or restore sexual function. According to an article written by Tamar Nordenberg (a lawyer with the Office of the Director in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research), the "reputed sexual effects of so-called aphrodisiacs are based in folklore, not fact." In 1989, the FDA affirmed that there was no methodical scientific verification that any over-the-counter aphrodisiacs exerted any effect to treat sexual dysfunction.

The Mediterranean Diet

In a recent article published in the Journal of Impotence Research, Esposito and colleagues looked at the Mediterranean diet and showed that it did improve sexual function in women with metabolic syndrome (increased abdominal adiposity, low HDLs, hypertriglyceridemia, increased blood pressure, and abnormal glucose metabolism). The diet was regulated and consisted of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, walnuts, and olive oil. Those with metabolic syndrome were monitored closely, screened with the standard Female Sexual Function Index, and kept nutritional diaries. They were subject to intense follow-up. They were also noted to have lowered levels of C-reactive protein, a substance that may be implicated in vascular inflammation. They were advised to increase consumption of fish and decrease intake of red or processed meat. Both the diet and the placebo groups were advised to increase exercise levels mainly by walking, playing aerobic ball games, or swimming for a minimum of 30 minutes per day. The placebo group was given information concerning healthy food choices but no specific program was offered to them.

According to the American Heart Association, there is no one specific Mediterranean diet. At least 16 countries border the Mediterranean Sea and diets vary between countries. There are many differences in culture, ethnicity, religion, economy, and agriculture. Some dietary pattern that have emerged include the following:

• Many fruits, vegetables, bread and other cereals, potatoes, beans, nuts and seeds are consumed.

• Olive oil is an important monounsaturated fat source.

• Dairy products including yogurt, fish, and poultry are consumed in low to moderate amounts, and little red meat is eaten.

• Eggs are consumed zero to four times a week.

• Low amounts of full-fat cheeses are eaten.

• Wine is consumed in low to moderate amounts.

• Adequate hydration is key in this diet.

More than half the fat calories in a Mediterranean diet come from monounsaturated fats (mainly from olive oil). Monounsaturated fat doesn't raise blood cholesterol levels the way saturated fat does.

The Orgasmic Diet

The orgasmic diet consists of avoiding antidepressants, coffee, tea, caffeine, soft drinks, cigarettes, herbal stimulants, ginkgo, and ginseng while adding high-dose vitamins such as a multivitamin, vitamin E (400 IU), vitamin C, fish oil (6 g), calcium (100 mg), magnesium (400 mg), zinc (15 mg), and slow-release iron. This diet advocates maintaining a "Zone type" dietary balance of low carbohydrates, while including pelvic exercises called Kegel exercises[1]. It also includes one ounce of dark chocolate.

The Testosterone Diet

The testosterone diet includes a variety of nuts, olive oil, canola oil, peanut butter, turnips, broccoli, cabbage, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, watercress, bok choy, and radishes. It advocates avoiding alcohol, getting adequate sleep, and exercising. The Gladiator Diet and the Testosterone Advantage Plan are other dietary plans that claim to enhance sexual virility and performance through weight lifting and eating a diet of 33% carbohydrates, 33% fats, and 33% protein while avoiding alcohol, sweets, and processed food. Other diets not only incorporate foods and nutrition, but also advocate sexual exercises that can be completed with your intimate partner.

Other Diets and Cookbooks

The Ultimate Sex Diet by Kerry McCloskey focuses on aphrodisiacs, whereas the Great American Sex Diet by Laura Corn recommends frequent sexual activity.

An interesting cookbook titled The New Inter Courses: An Aphrodisiac Cookbook by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge is devoted to recipes that use erotically charged ingredients and is directed to those who may be interested in incorporating sexual foods into their diet. It features interesting recipes such as Black Russian Cake, Pasta with Rosemary Cream Sauce, and Oysters with Chardonnay Wine. Another interesting book is called Seduction and Spice by Rudolf Sodamin. It is wonderful, exciting cookbook that combines recipes with sexual folklore, history, and aphrodisiac tales.

Chocolate is by far the most popular food associated with sexuality.

Chocolate and Sexuality?

Chocolate is by far the most popular food associated with sexuality. It is associated with romance, apology, and seductive gifts. The Aztecs referred to chocolate as nourishment of the Gods, and according to legend, the Aztec emperor Montezuma consumed 50 glasses of honey-sweetened chocolate to maintain his virility and potency before visiting his harem of more than 600 women. The 18th-century lover Casanova thought that chocolate was an aphrodisiac because eating it produces the same satisfying sensations as sex.

Chocolate does contain the biogenic amines tyramine and phenylethamine (PEA, the love drug), methylxanthines, and cannabinoid-like fatty acids. Cocoa is found in bitter chocolate and it may increase sensitivity. Fabbri and colleagues studied the concept that chocolate was an effective aphrodisiac that increased sexual desire and pleasure in women. As recently published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, after controlling for age, there was no difference in changes in sexual function as measured by the Female Sexual Function Index of chocolate consumers versus nonconsumers. It is tempting to suppose that chocolate may have some positive effects on sexual function; however, it is not substantiated in the medical literature.

  • [1] Exercises designed to increase muscle strength and elasticity in the pelvis. They may be recommended in the treatment of urinary incontinence.
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