As a cardiologist, I may be guilty of overemphasizing the circulatory system, but sexual arousal is a vascular event: More blood, more fun; less blood flow, less fun. This is true for both men and women.
Studies show that healthy lifestyles (no smoking, lots of exercise, and a diet filled with plant-based foods) are linked to better sexual responsiveness. On the other hand, eating lots of fat, sugar and salt, has the opposite effect.
Inside every blood vessel is a single cell lining called the endothelium. This layer of cells makes a miraculous chemical called nitric oxide (NO), which leads to the creation of cyclic GMP. (Badda Bing, Badda Boom!) Blood is rushing and swelling those parts that need it. In fact, the erectile dysfunction drugs that you see advertised on TV work by increasing cyclic GMP levels.
How is nitric oxide generated in these key blood vessels? The amino acids L-arginine and L-citrulline cycle back and forth and create it. This system is particularly active when you are less than 40 years of age.
But why use a drug if the nature's pharmacy can do the same?
If you want to boot your levels of nitric oxide, why not eat healthy foods high in L-arginine?
Some ideas: pine nuts, peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and Brazil nuts. Grains, including oats and wheat germ, also have significant amounts of L-arginine.
And what about L-citrulline? Watermelon has the highest concentration in nature (particularly the white rind), followed by onions and garlic. You might want to stick to watermelon however before going on a date!
More good news: There is another way to generate nitric oxide and its blood flow-enhancing effects. Chemicals called nitrates and nitrites, found in many foods and generated in our saliva, are directly converted to nitric oxide. (Antiseptic mouthwashes prevent this healthy conversion and should be avoided.)
You may be thinking I thought nitrates and nitrites are bad for you?
In fatty meats this may be true as they get converted to nitrosamines but in the healthiest foods, particularly vegetables, they are a load of fun. What foods are packed with nitrates, nitrates, and the antioxidants that make them rush to convert to NO?
Arugula, rhubarb, kale swiss chard, spinach, bok choy, and beets are the top of the lsit. Finish your diet off with grapes, pomegranates, apples and green teas and you have a dynamite erotic potion.
Over 400 years ago, Thomas Sydenham said, "A man is as old as his arteries."
Four centuries later, you know just how right he was.