02/09/2012 08:43 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

3 Aphrodisiac Smoothies

by guest blogger Mark A. Moyad, MD, MPH

I have probably investigated more than 100 aphrodisiacs in my career, and the majority (90-plus) have little to no merit. But a few, such as arginine, capsaicin, ginger, and maca, are interesting and do deserve some attention. A true aphrodisiac has the ability to either increase libido (sexual drive/desire/arousal) or improve sexual function (lubrication, blood flow), or can heighten or enhance sexual performance and/or the sexual response (pleasure). With that in mind, my wife and I decided to play around with some of these ingredients. The results are the following three aphrodisiac smoothies. Feel free to mix the ingredients around and make your own versions.


Watermelon Surprise
(Serves 2)

  • 1 cup watermelon, with the rind on!
  • 1 sprig basil
  • 1/2  cup coconut water
  • 1/2  cup ice
The science behind the smoothie: Watermelon is a great source of citrulline, an amino acid that converts to the amino acid arginine.  Arginine is used to make nitric oxide (NO), which is what helps increase blood flow during sexual arousal. One study found that drinking watermelon juice increases body levels of arginine by 12 to 22 percent. Not bad! Most of the citrulline is actually in the rind of the watermelon, so making it a part of the smoothie is key. We added basil because research shows it's a heart-healthy herb. And improving heart health is one of the fastest ways to improve sexual health.  Some studies also suggest that basil has some anti-stress properties. Coconut water is one of the best natural low-calorie sources of sugar and potassium, both of which keep you hydrated and support high energy levels.


Ginger-Mango-Papaya Punch
(Serves 2)

  • 1 Tablespoon ginger root
  • 1 teaspoon chopped jalapeño
  • 1/2 cup papaya
  • 1/2  cup mango
  • 1/2  cup ice
  • 1/2  cup 45-calorie blue diamond almond-coconut milk blend
The science behind the smoothie: The compound in hot peppers that gives them their heat, known as capsaicin, has been found to increase nitric oxide and blood flow throughout the body. (However, keep in mind that I am NOT suggesting that anyone take cayenne or hot pepper pills, which are both potentially very dangerous.) We added ginger because some studies have shown that it can increase sex hormone levels and possibly libido in some people. Papaya and mango are unusually high in nutrients that promote high energy levels, such as vitamin C.  And low-calorie almond-coconut milk is a great source of electrolytes and potassium, which also boost energy levels and hydration.


Magical Maca
(Serves 2)

  • 1/2  cup pineapple
  • 1 teaspoon of maca
  • 1/2  cup skim milk
  • 1 Tablespoon soy protein powder
  • 1/2  cup ice
  • 1/2  frozen peeled banana
The science behind the smoothie: A recent review of the Andean plant known as maca (Lepidium meyenii) revealed that it might improve sexual function in both men and women.  In fact, the focus of the research has been on sex drive and the studies have been mostly positive. In order to get the benefits in pill form, you'd have to take a big dose, but health food stores now sell powdered maca. The safety of maca has been very good in all of the studies, so we thought we'd give it a try. This was our favorite of the three smoothies we made. Definitely a winner! We added soy protein powder because it's a great natural source of arginine. And pineapple has an enzyme that can break down a protein known as "bromelain," which helps make the soy protein powder work faster. Banana is also a good source of potassium, an electrolyte that can keep you focused, hydrated, and ready to go.


Dr. Moyad is the Jenkins/Pokempner director of complementary and alternative medicine at the University of Michigan Medical Center and the consulting director for the Eisenhower Wellness Institute. He lives in Ann Arbor, MI, with his wife, Mia, and their dog, Chauncey.

For more from Maria Rodale, go to