By Carolyn Brown, MS, RD
Whether you’re in love or anti-love, there is actually more to Valentine’s Day than chocolate and long stem roses (although boyfriends and husbands, the latter will pretty much always work). But this year, maybe replace Sweethearts and teddy bears with something a little sexier, like an aphrodisiac food. Aphrodisiacs have been used for thousands of years to make people feel friskier. Some well-known ones like champagne may just lower your inhibitions, but others like those on this list actually stimulate production of sex hormones and neurotransmitters. Ooh la la! So have some fun with your honey and give one or all five of these a go:
1. Avocado. The smooth, creamy fruit has been used as a libido booster since the days of the Mayans and Aztecs, mostly due to its appearance. Avocados had such a seductive reputation that in Spain, Catholic priests once considered them a forbidden fruit and stopped parishioners from eating them. They are rich in Vitamin E, which is required for the production of sex hormones. The unsaturated fats found in avocados are essential for a healthy cardiovascular system – and why not get a little superficial? They are also great for your skin and hair.
2. Oysters. Raw oysters increase dopamine levels (aka the “pleasure chemical”), and they are high in zinc, a mineral related to testosterone production and increasing libido. The most infamous seducer in history, Casanova, allegedly ate 50 raw oysters a day.
3. Ginger: Spice things up, literally. The scent of this spicy root stimulates the circulatory system and gets your heart rate up. It also has a warming effect that makes you sweat and stimulates nerve endings. Chili peppers have a similar effect.
4. Wild Salmon: Salmon live to reproduce, so as you can imagine, it’s a good aphrodisiac. Wild salmon are a great source of protein (hint, hint, stamina), and it’s rich in omega-3s, essential fatty acids that are required for sex-hormone production. Omega 3’s also increase serotonin (a happiness-associated neurotransmitter) levels.
5. Honey: Bees might seem anything but sexy, but think about flowers, the most classic symbol of romance. Honey is liquid golden sugar made from the nectar of flowers. It’s also a source of boron, a mineral proven to stimulate estrogen production in women and testosterone production in men. Even more meaning behind a “honeymoon”.
All jokes aside, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that eating well and therefore feeling good about your body will boost your sex drive. But on the research front, obesity is a well-known risk factor for low testosterone and erectile dysfunction. While I will leave that to WebMD’s Sexual Health experts, science and I fully agree that having a healthy diet is essential for having a healthy sex life.
Have you ever tried any aphrodisiac foods? Anything work or not work? Share your thoughts in the comments below or in our Food and Cooking community.