We’ve written a lot about how good sex is for your health, so it shouldn’t surprise you that sex is also helpful for reducing the risk and impact of atherosclerosis (the build up of fatty deposits in the arteries that can lead to heart disease and stroke).

According to von Borstel, exerting yourself between the sheets is one of the most beneficial exercises you can do for your heart. “As well as an entire cardiac workout, before and during intercourse there is a big release of hormones that have a protective effect on our cardiovascular system,” he explains.

An orgasm can release 50 different chemical messengers. One substance, oxytocin, the so-called cuddle hormone, triggered by affectionate physical contact, is proven to lower blood pressure, promote the healing of wounds and reduce stress.

Endorphin is another useful hormone released during sex – this helps to lower heart rate and blood pressure to the heart muscle during exercise. Meanwhile, both oestrogen, which is anti-inflammatory, and testosterone, which lowers cholesterol levels in the blood, receive a boost through sex, too. High cholesterol causes fatty deposits in blood vessels to attach to artery walls, causing clogging and arteriosclerosis, says von Borstel, who recommends having “as much loving sex as possible”.

As for garlic, it’s obviously the king of seasonings, but did you know that it’s neither a spice nor an herb? It’s technically an aromatic vegetable like its relation the onion — and a member of the lily family. Lilies? Where have we read about those before?

Song of Solomon 2:1-2

She

I am a rose of Sharon,
    a lily of the valleys.

He

Like a lily among thorns
    is my darling among the young women.

If wood is the ancient metaphor for the penis, the equivalent image for the female is the flower. The Lover’s member is a massive cedar, and his Beloved’s girly bits are a beautiful lily — compared to her, the other young women are thorns and thistles.

Eat up! (Although I grant that “lily” is a more appealing metaphor than “garlic” when it comes to a wife’s intimate parts.)

In addition to tasting great, eating garlic (and onions) can help promote the health of your circulatory system.

“Vegetables and fruits have secondary phytochemicals that have the same effect as different [heart protective] medications but not in a dose that is dangerous for your body,” says von Borstel. He cites ginger, onions and garlic as blood thinners which promote blood flow through vessels and improved blood supply to organ and tissues, and recommends grating a teaspoon of root ginger or two or three teaspoons of grated garlic into a glass of water a day to naturally reduce blood pressure.

“As long as you eat in a balanced way, it is no problem to eat these every day,” he says. Allicin, the key ingredient found in garlic and onions, is thought to act on the kidneys, changing levels of hormones and dilating the blood vessels. Research by the Institute of Food Research found that eating a 100g to 200g serving of onions (one to two onions) had the biggest impact on inflammation.

Eating a “lily” probably wouldn’t hurt either! Can anyone suggest a new heart-healthy bifecta that brings together sex and garlic in a fun and exciting way?