by Steven Doyle
Valentine’s Day is a great excuse to spend some quality time with the one you love and – if you’re lucky – a bit amor. So what better than to treat your partner to a sumptuous meal that not only tingles their taste buds but also gets them in the mood?
For centuries, certain foods and substances have been rumored to have aphrodisiac properties. By definition, an aphrodisiac (named after the goddess Aphrodite) is a food, drink, or substance that increases sexual desire.
How do they accomplish this task? Some aphrodisiacs reduce stress or increase blood flow, while others stimulate the production of dopamine in the brain – all of which help to boost your libido.
If you’re planning a steamy night in this Valentine’s Day, make sure you include one (or all) of these ingredients on your menu – we’ll leave the recipes up to you.
Chocolate has a centuries-old reputation as an aphrodisiac. Chocolate contains phenylethylamine (PEA), which stimulates the nervous system and triggers the release of pleasurable opium-like compounds known as endorphins.
PEA also sparks the production of dopamine, a neurochemical directly associated with sexual arousal and pleasure.
Rich in B vitamins, honey boosts testosterone levels in the blood – the hormone responsible for promoting sex drive and orgasm in both men and women. It also contains boron, a trace mineral that helps the body use and metabolize estrogen, the female sex hormone, which is important for female desire.
Figs have long been thought of as an arousing stimulant. The flavonoids, polyphenols and antioxidants are concentrated in this fruit, helping to put you in a euphoric haze to prolong sexual desire and intercourse.
Figs are mentioned in the Bible (Adam and Eve wore fig leaves to cover their private parts), and are reported to be Cleopatra’s favorite fruit. The ancient Greeks held them as sacred and associated them with love and fertility.
Use this sweet, pungent herb to liven up your meals and your sex life. Basil not only adds a fresh flavor, but also has a fantastic aroma that is said to have an aphrodisiac effect.
Basil is also very stimulating, and could enhance sexual desire by increasing heart rate and improving blood flow. Perhaps that explains why Italians are so romantic!
This silky, mild fruit has a reputation as an aphrodisiac extending back to ancient Aztec times. In fact, the Aztecs called the avocado tree “Ahuacuatl”, which translates to “testicle tree”.
It is thought that the fruit’s high levels of vitamin E could help keep the spark alive because of its role in maintaining youthful vigor and energy levels.
Although expensive, this earthy fungus has a pungent flavor with an aphrodisiac reputation extending back to ancient Roman times. The scent is believed to mimic androstenone – found in male sweat – which serves as an attractant to the opposite sex. However, you’ll want to be careful with this one. For some it is too strong to be appealing, while a small portion of the population can’t smell androstenone at all.
As with avocado, the shape of asparagus is a major contributor to the belief in its aphrodisiac properties.
However, asparagus is also a great source of Vitamin E, which is involved in stimulating the production of sex hormones, and the B vitamin known as folate that aids in increasing histamine, which is important for a healthy sex drive.
It is also thought to increase circulation in the genitourinary system, leading to increased sexual desire.
People have deemed ginger an aphrodisiac for centuries because of its scent and because it stimulates the circulatory system. Ginger is believed to increase sensitivity in the erogenous zones. It also makes the tongue tingle and lips swell with its tingling effect.
Legend has it that famous French courtesan Madame du Barry served ginger to all of her lovers to increase their desire and improve their pleasure.
Eating cinnamon heats up your body and, in turn, your sex drive. Cinnamon has also been found to increase appetite – both physical and sexual.
It is even said that a drop of cinnamon oil rubbed onto the genitals is surprisingly useful in producing powerful sexual stimulation. (We don’t recommend you try this at home.)
Oysters are probably the food most commonly associated with aphrodisiac properties, and most people are aware of their reputation for increasing sexual desire. Oysters are thought to be an aphrodisiac because of their high zinc content, which helps produce sperm and increases libido.
Researchers also recently found that oysters contain amino acids that trigger production of sex hormones.