For centuries, various foods have been rumored to have aphrodisiac properties, though there were few facts to back up those claims. While a single meal or specific dish will probably only provide a psychological boost to romance (hey, there’s nothing wrong with that), what you eat on a regular basis can help rev your engines for passion.MORE: Eight Ways Sex Makes You BeautifulBoost Your Blood FlowSome say good sex is all in your head. While your mental outlook plays an important part, there’s no doubt that your heart factors in as well — specifically, the health of your ticker and your entire cardiovascular system.Simply put, good circulation promotes good sex: Getting the blood flowing to your nether regions promotes healthy genital tissue and enhances erections in men and lubrication in women, explains Debby Herbenick, PhD, MPH, sexual health educator at the Kinsey Institute and author of “Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction.”So, if you want to rev your romantic engines, follow a heart-healthy diet, advises Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, an American Dietetic Association spokesperson. You’ll reduce your LDL (or “bad”) cholesterol levels in your blood and the potential for plaque buildup on the walls of your arteries — all of which add up to a lower risk of heart disease and, yes, improved circulation for better sex.QUIZ: Measure Your Beauty Nutrients from TodayTopping the list for heart-pounding action both in and out of the bedroom:

  • Heart-healthy fats. Seafood such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines, explains Dr. Gerbstadt, contains omega-3 oils, which can reduce inflammation, as well as reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke. (They’re also connected to improved brain function and reduced depression!). On the other hand, foods high in saturated fat will have a negative effect on your sex life by increasing LDL cholesterol and contributing to plaque buildup. “These types of foods can damage your arteries and therefore [slow] blood flow, not only to the brain and heart, but to the penis,” Dr. Gerbstadt says.
  • Red wine. A recent study found that light to moderate consumption of red wine may lead to improved sexual function in women. But keep it to only one or two glasses (one glass for women and two for men- at the most — consuming too much wine (or any alcohol) can have the opposite effect in the bedroom by decreasing your stamina and drive, and possibly causing mild depression.

MORE: The Grape Debate of Red WineLiven Up Your LibidoJust not feelin’ it tonight? While increasing circulation to your genitals is important to boosting your sex drive, hormone levels — no surprise — matter to sex drive too. Testosterone and estrogen, found in both men and women (though not in equal amounts), are integral to driving desire. Think of them as fuel for your passion.When you’re low on fuel, well, your passion just peters out. Low testosterone equals a low sex drive for both men and women. To make matters worse, low estrogen levels in women result in vaginal dryness and sometimes painful sex. Here’s what to do:

  • Try This

    Turn up the heat tonight with a dinner à deux. Try a curry-based main course to get the blood flowing and a glass of red wine.

    Fuel your testosterone. Zinc helps with hormonal and reproductive function. Found in the legendarily romantic oysters, among other sources, it’s also important for proper prostate function and production of testosterone. (Just not that into raw shellfish? Shrimp has it too.)

  • Manage weight to manage hormones. Achieving or maintaining a healthy weight through a healthful diet helps maintain testosterone levels in men. A Mediterranean diet, which is rich in whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables in addition to heart healthy fats can help you reach or maintain that healthy weight.

QUIZ: Are You Satisfied With Your Sex Life?Pass the ChocolatesGuess what: Chocolate — the darker the better — really does up your chances of getting lucky. Its serotonin-boosting compounds are especially helpful to women, who tend to have less of this feel-good brain chemical than men. Plus, it contains caffeine, an ingredient that will not only fight fatigue but will also increase blood flow.Want the oomph without the candy? Try chili peppers or curry for their “body-heating and blood-awakening” capabilities, advises Patti Britton, PhD, a clinical sexologist and author of “The Art of Sex Coaching.”— by Joelie KleinMore from Cleveland Clinic/360-5.comTop 10 health benefits of love and sex Healthy sex life = happy lifeSex does a body good