Throughout history people have used dining as a bonding activity, and just as long cultures have looked to certain foods to enhance their intimate experiences. Several foods are rumored to have qualities that can improve romance, fertility and promote healthy reproductive organs. Some are even said to increase stamina, reduce stress or even attract your partner. All of these factors can have a significant impact on one’s love life.
While the jury is still out on whether these food’s overall effect on libido is significant or a placebo effect, it can’t hurt to try a romance enhancing food with your one and only! We’ve explained and visualized some of the yummiest aphrodisiac foods.
What is an aphrodisiac?
Named after the god of love, Aphrodite, an aphrodisiac is a food or drug that arouses erotic instinct, induces desire, or increases pleasure or performance. These substances can be from plants, animals, or minerals and can be traced back to early civilizations and cultures.
Historically, procreation has been a large moral and religious part of society, making potency and virility important issues. In modern culture people are still fascinated with aphrodisiacs, and many scientists have set out to prove the link between rumored romance foods and increased performance.
Aphrodisiacs can be classified under three categories: those that increase potency, libido, or pleasure. While there are differing enzymes and vitamins that have different effects, the goal is similar–heighten the romantic experience.
Known as a fertility symbol for years, the almond has also been said to have aphrodisiac qualities. They’re rich in essential fatty acids (omega-3 fats), which are needed to produce testosterone, as well as vitamin E, magnesium and fiber. Aside from that, their scent has been rumored to arouse passion in women as well as men.
Artichokes play a game of hard to get when it comes to their edible parts, but did you know that they have a history as aphrodisiacs? In Greek mythology Zeus, after being rejected by a beautiful young woman, turned her into the spinney and difficult plant! In the 16th century, women were banned from eating them due to their ability to enhance erotic energy. Nowadays, they are known for their high antioxidant count and being packed with healthy nutrients. As an added bonus, they are absolutely delicious.
While it’s not one of the first foods that comes to mind when thinking of romance, arugula is a medically validated natural aphrodisiac. Also called rocket, this leafy green is a popular ingredient in salads and on sandwiches. It’s been used as an arousal aid since ancient Greece, but modern day science backs up these claims. The trace minerals and antioxidants in the plant have been known to block environmental contaminants that can harm libido. Additionally, a study at Al-Nahrain University in Iraq found that arugula leaf extract boosted testosterone levels in mice. This qualifies the ancient superfood as one of the most potent aphrodisiacs on our list!
The shape of asparagus is said to be suggestive, but aside from that it’s not the sexiest food. What qualifies it as an aphrodisiac? It’s a great source of vitamin E, which stimulates the production of reproductive hormones in men and women (and is great for your skin)! It also contains a high count of B vitamin which is known to increase histamine, an important chemical for a healthy libido in both sexes. As an added bonus, it includes folate which is important for male and female reproductive health.
Evidence of Avocados being consumed by the Mesoamericans goes back almost 10,000 years. It gets its name from the word ahuacatl, which means “testicle” because of its shape and the fact that it grows in pairs. Aside from the origins of its name, the avocado has been known to boost vitality due to its high levels of vitamin E, which helps maintain youthful vigor and energy levels.
Aside from its suggestive shape, the banana is widely regarded as a romance booster. Bursting with B vitamins and potassium, bananas help the body produce reproductive hormones. Research shows, however, that the most potent aphrodisiac may come from the smell of banana bread. The smell of banana bread was shown to increase arousal in women by an average of 12 percent. That’s a pretty significant increase, so it might be worth baking some banana bread for your lover soon!
Aside from being a flavor-booster in Italian cuisine, basil has been known as a symbol of love since the Roman times. In modern times, basil has been studied for its anti-inflammatory properties and its libido enhancing nutrients. It contains high levels of vitamin A, beta carotene, magnesium, potassium, and vitamin C. All nutrients that promote a healthy love life!
One of the lesser known aphrodisiacs, celery is actually a potent vitality booster that’s made many appearances throughout history. In Homer’s Odyssey, when Calypso captures Odysseus for a five year affair, her home is surrounded in wild celery. It’s also another food that is credited to giving Giacomo Casanova his legendary stamina. The root of these legends is androsterone, a pheromone found in the scent of celery. In addition, celery contains numerous vitamins and minerals beneficial to sexual (and overall) health!
Cherries have been known as passion boosters for years, with their beautiful red color and delicate skin. Often paired with chocolate, they are an even more exotic treat because they are only available one season out of the year. Aside from that, cherries have been said to boost pheromone production and promote healthy blood flow, both of which are great for your love life.
If heat is synonymous with passion, then chili peppers are certainly an aphrodisiac. Chili peppers contain the chemical capsaicin, which generates the heat they give off–the hotter the pepper, the more capsaicin it contains. Capsaicin is known to boost testosterone levels and increase libido. Chili peppers also have the ability to release endorphins, natural painkillers and your bodies response to the capsaicin. When eating chili peppers, your heart rate rises and your body temperature elevates, having a thermogenic effect on the body. All of these can enhance the erotic experience!
The Aztecs used to ingest cocoa to stimulate desire, and emperor Montezuma was said to have ingested them in large quantities to fuel his love life. Today, chocolate is gifted on first dates and anniversaries regularly, and is known for being one of the world’s most romantic foods. Science validates its reputation, as it contains chemicals known to boost arousal. Tryptophan, a building block of serotonin (the feel good chemical), can be found in cocoa, as well as phenylethylamine, a stimulant related to amphetamine. Both chemicals are released when a human is in love! Make your date feel extra special with rich chocolate truffles.
Perfect for cold winter nights, cinnamon can be used in both sweet and savory dishes and has been valued for centuries for its curative properties. While its aroma promotes relaxation, it also boasts anti-viral properties and might even be able to control blood pressure and improve alertness! It’s also packed with antioxidants which promote a healthy love life! Boiled in a warm beverage or served in a yummy dessert, cinnamon can be a great addition to a romantic evening.
The world’s most socially acceptable stimulant has an effect on libido as well, increasing blood flow and raising the heart rate. Studies also show that coffee can increase levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure receptors in the body. In another study, female rats were significantly more interested in reproductive activities after consuming coffee. The experience of drinking coffee is relaxing and sensual, adding to its aphrodisiac qualities.
Figs have a romantic scent and texture, but those aren’t the only things that make figs a perfect treat for lovers. They are rich in amino acids, which are known to increase stamina, as well as iron and potassium. Their reputation a romance food permeates through history, and they’ve been written about by poets and literature for centuries. It’s even said that figs may have been the fruit that caused original sin in the Garden of Eden, rather than apples!
Ginger root boasts medicinal benefits and is a known digestion aid, but it has romantic properties as well! Tracing its roots back to ancient Asia, Confucius was said to have added ginger to every meal. It’s been used in India as treatment for impotence, and is known to wake the body up and increase the heart rate. Its active ingredient gingerol acts as a light natural stimulant while at the same time promoting relaxation and overall well being. Enjoying some ginger tea with your lover could be the start of an exciting evening!
Honey’s romantic nature comes partially from its sweet taste and gooey texture, but it’s also been regarded as an aphrodisiac since ancient times. It’s been said that when couples would get married, they would drink mead (made with honey) until the first moon thereafter, and this is where it’s reputation sprouted from — the literal honeymoon. Scientifically, honey contains boron which regulates estrogen and testosterone levels, and nitric oxide which is released in the body when a person is in an aroused state.
This fleshy root, that grows high in the Andes under harsh conditions, was consumed by ancient shepherds and their livestock alike. Called “food of the gods” by the Inca, Maca is reputed to boost fertility and arousal. Several studies have backed up these claims. Now most commonly ground into a powder and added to oatmeal or smoothies, it boasts ginseng-like properties like increased strength, energy, libido, and stamina. It’s also been used as a natural treatment for hormone imbalances, especially during menopause.
Olive oil is packed with antioxidants and has been used for centuries for health reasons. It’s a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which promote a healthy heart, smooth blood flow and regulated hormone levels. Green olives are believed to make men more virile, while black olives are known for increasing a woman’s libido. All of these factors make olive oil a delicious choice for date night!
Since Roman times, Oysters have been reputed as aphrodisiacs. Venetian heartbreaker Giacomo Casanova was even rumored to enjoy them as a vitality booster. There is likely truth to the old adage, as a 2015 study found that D-Aspartic acid was shown to increase testosterone in sedentary men. Oysters contain this compound, as well as zinc, which is beneficial to the male reproductive system.
Also incredibly high in antioxidants, the pomegranate was a culinary symbol of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, in ancient Greece. Inside the pomegranate there are many little seeds, which are associated with fertility and abundance. In addition to that, a small study by Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh found that consuming pomegranate juice lowered cortisol levels (the stress hormone). This is known to correspond with increased testosterone in men and women, which helps increase vitality!
It turns out eating pumpkin seeds with your lover might be a great start to a romantic evening. They’re high in zinc, which is needed for testosterone production and helps increase libido in both men and women. As further evidence, The Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago discovered that the scent of pumpkin pie increased blood flow in men’s nether regions and amorous desire in women. Other scents that had a similar effect were licorice, doughnuts, and lavender.
Naturally formed into a little red heart, it’s easy to see why strawberries are associated with love and romance. Dipped strawberries are common gifts on Valentines day and anniversaries, and champagne and strawberries are commonplace at romantic dinners. From a nutritional standpoint, they are full of antioxidants and a healthy dose of vitamin C that promotes vitality and blood flow. The minerals magnesium, potassium and folate round out the health benefits of this delicious little fruit.
These starchy veggies are packed with fertility boosting vitamin A, found in the beta carotene which gives them their orange color. They are also rich in vitamin C which boosts energy and fights aging, as well as potassium and iron which promote healthy blood pressure. When you pair its benefits with its phallic shape and soft (cooked) texture, you get an aphrodisiac that has multiple benefits.
The aphrodisiac quality in truffles lies largely due to their aroma, which is said to mimic the male pheromone androsterone. Their rarity and delicious taste adds to the romantic effect, making truffles the perfect ingredient for a date night meal. Aside from that, they’re high in protein which promotes stamina and energy!
Vanilla has been long regarded as a food of passion, with historical figures like Queen Elizabeth and Madame du Barry allegedly using the scent in their boudoir. Taste and smell are large parts of the reason vanilla is seductive, as its odor is known to reduce drowsiness, increase muscular energy, improve circulation, stimulate arousal, decrease stress and have a euphoric effect on the brain. It helps create a feeling of comfort and peace, which encourages a feeling of safety and intimacy.
This summertime staple may play a more prominent role in the future of reproductive health than most people realize! Texas A&M University’s Vegetable and Fruit Improvement Center discovered that watermelon contains enzymes that relax the blood vessels in the groin and may even increase libido! The phytonutrient, citrulline, is contained mostly in the melon’s rind, but researchers are working to develop a fruit with higher concentrations in the flesh of the fruit.
There are a wide variety of different aphrodisiacs available on grocery store shelves. Simply identify your area of need and include one or two in your next date night menu. The best thing about aphrodisiacs is that most of them are delicious, so it’s not hard to incorporate them into your daily routine. Have fun with your special someone during mealtime tonight!