Foods For Better Sex12 June, 2017
If your friends are like mine, conversations at happy hour are beyond entertaining. No topic is too controversial or risque. In fact, the more outrageous, the better.
Recently, the subject of aphrodisiacs–foods that are thought to increase sexual desire–came up as a way to spice things up in the bedroom. We joked about feeding our men platters of oysters and chocolate for dinner and reporting on our experiences at our next gathering.
Laughs aside, this conversation got me thinking—do aphrodisiacs really work?
I decided to put on my dietitian hat and dig into the science of these libido-boosting claims.
How do aphrodisiacs work?
Aphrodisiacs are thought to boost sexual desire in a couple of ways. Some foods, like bananas and avocados, are categorized as aphrodisiacs simply based on their appearance. Others, such as black licorice, produce aromas that may get you going. Additionally, there are a few that many actually have chemical properties to boost desire by stimulating the brain, blood flow, and hormones.
Experts share that the affects of aphrodisiacs are much more subdued that pharmaceutical drugs like Viagra. It’s also unclear how much of specific aphrodisiacs need to be ingested for you (or your partner) to really notice any difference in sexual drive.
What foods are considered aphrodisiacs?
There are dozens of foods categorized as aphrodisiacs. Some of the more popular ones include oysters, chocolate, and honey.
Oysters are high in zinc, which has been associated with increased sexual potency in men. Additionally, researchers found that oysters—along with muscles and clams—contain two amino acids that may aid in releasing sex hormones like testosterone and estrogen. It is still unclear if there is enough of these amino acids in oysters to really be effective.
The Aztecs first recorded the connection between chocolate and sexual desire. Emperor Montezuma is thought to consume excessive amounts of cocoa beans to enhance his sexual abilities. Chocolate contains the “feel good” chemicals phenylethylamine and serotonin which produce euphoric feelings when released by the brain. However, there is no evidence that this feeling of happiness directly correlates with increased sexual desire.
The use of another aphrodisiac, honey, dates back to the medieval times. In Persia, couples drank a fermented honey drink called mead every day for a month (known as the “honey month” or “honeymoon”) after they married to ensure their marriage would be successful. Honey is rich in B vitamins which are needed for testosterone production and boron which helps the body metabolize and use estrogen, however, there are no well-done studies to support honey as an effective aphrodisiac.
While there isn’t much evidence supporting foods as aphrodisiacs, some herbal ingredients show promise, one of those being ginseng. A handful of well-done studies show that ginseng can help men who suffer from erectile dysfunction. As with most aphrodisiacs, optimal dosing is still unknown and it is not recommended for people with hormone-sensitive cancers.
Yohimbe is another herb that may have aphrodisiac qualities. It is found in Africa and India and works by stimulating the nerve centers in the spine and improving capacity for arousal. Unfortunately, this herb can have side effects including weakness, anxiety, paralysis, and hallucinations.
Should you include aphrodisiacs in your diet?
There is really no readily available research to back up the claims of aphrodisiacs and some may even have harmful side effects. Additionally, optimal dosage to achieve arousal for many aphrodisiacs are unknown.
My suggestion? You’re better off having a glass of wine and wearing sexy lingerie to get you in the mood. I have no doubt you’ll still have plenty to talk about with your friends at happy hour.