If you think sexy food means whipped cream and chocolate sauce, think again.
In her new book “Clean Eating, Dirty Sex” (Skyhorse, out Feb. 5), nutritionist Lisa Davis, who hosts a podcast by the same name, explores the relationship between diet and sex — and she says sweets won’t do you any favors between the sheets.
“I strongly believe in food as medicine,” Davis tells The Post. And although there’s plenty written about how food helps with chronic illness and disease prevention, “I didn’t see anything about sex.” So for her book, she researched foods that affect hormones and blood flow — and if you eat a standard American diet, with its abundance of sugary, fatty and highly processed foods, you’re probably eating mojo-killing meals by the plateful.
For example, Davis says, sugar interferes with your blood flow by causing “inflammation” in your capillaries. This swelling, she writes, reduces “blood flow to sexual organs, impacting libido and performance in bed.”
So, will an afternoon ice-cream sundae really destroy your chances later that night? Not exactly, says Manhattan-based gastroenterologist Dr. Edward Goldberg. Although he agrees with Davis that a balanced diet is “one very important aspect” of a good sex life, he thinks a strong sex drive is “really more about energy and a sense of well-being” than a direct result of eating certain foods. Still, he says, he would encourage people concerned about their libidos to cut back on obviously unhealthy foods.
Davis would do the same — particularly with these four unsexy eats.
Wine may be a social lubricant, but it can cause unnecessary friction in the bedroom. Alcohol, Davis says, causes dehydration, which can lead to uncomfortable sex for women.
It’s no good for guys, either, she says, as “alcohol reduces testosterone levels [in men],” which can lower libido. (Goldberg says it’s true that alcoholic men can have “lower than normal” testosterone levels, but says it’s less of an issue for social drinkers.)
And in abundance, it’s good for neither party, she says. After all, “if you’re superdrunk, it’s hard to have an orgasm.”
Forget re-creating that “Lady and the Tramp” moment — noodles have no place in canoodling, according to Davis.
Heavily processed starches, such as white flour, raise your blood-sugar and insulin levels, she explains. That can lead to energy spikes and crashes, and can also disrupt your hormonal balance by “triggering your ovaries to overproduce” certain sex hormones, leading to painful complications like ovarian cysts.
Goldberg is more concerned about the “far-reaching effects” of carbo-loading — conditions such as diabetes and obesity, which, among their many threats to your health, also “have a negative effect on blood flow and sex function.” But he agrees that a big bowl of spaghetti is a probable mood-killer. “Feeling really full is going to make you not feel sexy,” he says.
You already know that fried chicken isn’t great for your heart. Well, per Davis, those trans-fat-rich foods — which can include everything from fast food to frozen pizza to microwaved popcorn — hurts another organ, too. These artery-clogging fats, Davis writes, also inhibit the body’s production of nitric oxide, which helps control blood flow to our extremities — and “if you don’t have enough of that nitric oxide, you’re going to have a problem with erectile dysfunction.”
Goldberg grants that heart disease and atherosclerosis — a k a plaque buildup in the arteries — can certainly lead to erectile dysfunction, but cautions that it won’t be your only problem. “If fats are causing elevated cholesterol or blood-vessel damage, there’s a greater risk of heart disease, stroke and other vascular disease before you get to a negative effect on sex function.”
Chocolate is often called an aphrodisiac, but Davis warns against the ultraprocessed, sugary kind, which is what most baked goods are. “Sugar is the worst,” she says. “Its impact on obesity and diabetes” — both of which severely impact circulation — “are well-documented.”
So is chocolate ever OK? Yes, but in small quantities, she says — and you have to stick to dark chocolate, made with at least 70 percent cocoa. The real stuff, she writes, “contains phenylethylamine, a chemical that boosts endorphins, [or] feel-good hormones.”
Goldberg is inclined to be even more lenient. “Obesity and diabetes definitely affect sex function, [but] a piece of chocolate cake [alone] doesn’t cause that,” he says. “If somebody likes to have a piece of chocolate cake and that puts them in a good mood, I don’t see any problem with that.”
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