A Cardiologist's Advice for Eating Your Way to Better Sex

eating your way to better sex
Jason Hoffman/Thrillist

It may seem far afield for a cardiologist to give advice on achieving the perfect orgasm.

Yet if there's one thing I've learned since becoming a heart doctor almost 25 years ago, it's this: Plumbing is plumbing, whether above or below the belly button. And without our blood vessels dilating and swelling male and female genitals, the big "O" becomes the big NO.

The more blood that can rush to and swell the love parts on men and women, the better your sex life is going to be. And coaxing your arteries to perform at their peak will allow you to perform at yours and guarantee you better orgasms. Here's how to do it.

What you need to know to blow

Inside every blood vessel (including those supplying the penis, vagina, and clitoris) is a wallpaper-like cell lining called the endothelium. Healthy arteries can carry three to five times more blood at peak than at rest; but only if the endothelial cells lining them produce a miraculous gas called nitrous oxide, or NO.

If you want to scream "yes yes yes," you need a lot of NO NO NO. In fact, NO causes blood vessels to relax and dilate to swell up the critical parts. The science of NO production was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1998 and led to the creation of Viagra and other performance drugs. But why rely on prescription drugs at the pharmacy when you can get the same benefit at the "farm"acy?

Foods that leave you soft

Endothelial cells are very sensitive to what is in the blood rushing through them. In one experiment, Dr. Robert Vogel at the University of Maryland fed healthy volunteers two meals on different days. When he fed them a low-fat meal, their endothelial cells worked just fine; all ready to relax and let blood rush to all their precious parts.

On the other day, Dr. Vogel fed the volunteers Big Macs. Within an hour, their endothelial cells' ability to make NO began to drop. NO creation fell to its lowest level after four hours, and took a full six hours post-Big Mac to return to baseline. This experiment has been repeated several times and is firm science.

Conclusion? Do not eat processed crap-foods packed with animal fats and chemicals before a date. Your Big Mac attack may leave you looking like a clown.

Foods that raise NO: the hard facts

When the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded for identifying the role of NO in artery health, the importance of dietary L-arginine was identified. L-arginine is converted by an enzyme called eNOS (rhymes with the male organ) into NO. There are foods that are particularly rich in L-arginine and would be good pre-date snacks. These include whole grains like oats, pine nuts, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and Brazil nuts. 

Another path to peak NO production is to eat foods high in L-citrulline. L-citrulline is produced as a byproduct when arginine is converted to NO and can cycle back to make more L-arginine. L-citrulline is most concentrated in watermelon, particularly in the white rind. It is also found in onions and garlic, although they may be a bad idea before a date unless everyone partakes.

A new pathway comes along

There are plenty of other foods high in dietary nitrates that will boost NO levels and your performance: red or green spinach, arugula, rhubarb, kale, Swiss chard, bok choy, and beets. If you prefer something sweeter, whip up a smoothie of grapes, pomegranate, and apples. The dietary nitrates circulate back into your mouth through your saliva and will boost NO on this second pass.

Persistence in sex and NO production pays off.  

Always use protection

If you eat for the Big O by maximizing NO production, you'll be improving more than your sex life. These sex-friendly foods enhance NO production in arteries throughout the body and lead to normal blood pressure; as well as protection from blood clots and plaques that clog them up. And we all know how important protection can be.

You will not only achieve orgasm more reliably by eating well, you will ensure your ability to climax well into old age. Four centuries ago, the famous English physician Thomas Sydenham anticipated that life and love depended on optimal blood flow, and famously said "A man is as old as his arteries." Like the refrain in A Chorus Line, fruits and vegetables can change your life. They certainly changed mine.

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Dr. Joel Kahn is a cardiologist who practices in Detroit. His book, Dead Execs Don't Get Bonuses, details how to prevent and reverse heart disease. Follow him on Twitter @drjkahn.