For thousands of years civilisations have been searching for ways to improve sexual desire and ability, turning to foods they had readily available. Spanish Fly, a powder made from ground beetles, was used as a powerful sexual stimulant but was later found to be highly toxic. Less dangerous (and more appetising) are products that can be found easily in the supermarket or lurking innocently in cupboards and fridges all over the world.
Chocolate, asparagus, bananas, seafood and even tomatoes have historically been regarded as having aphrodisiac qualities. Modern-day research backs this up scientifically. Here are the top five aphrodisiacs that could be on the menu any day.
Chocolate as an Aphrodisiac
Chocolate is traditionally given to a loved one as a gift. Could it be that there is another underlying reason to give a lover chocolate? The Aztec Emperor Montezuma reportedly drank fifty cups of chocolate a day to enhance sexual performance. Arthur Vine, of Aphrodite Chocolates explains that eating chocolate releases serotonin and phenylethylamine into the brain, enhancing mood and artificially generating the “high” that is felt when in love.
That, he reports, added to the sugar rush that chocolate gives and the consequential energy boost, could be the reason that gives chocolate its aphrodisiacal qualities.
So the next time an elegantly wrapped box of chocolates is given as a gift, the sender may have more on their mind than a sweet treat!
Eat Asparagus for Love
Firm, long and phallic-shaped, it is not difficult to see how asparagus received attention as an aphrodisiac. But according to research reported by Aphrodisiology.com the shape alone might not be the only thing linking it to love.
Research has found that this green vegetable contains asparagine, which is an amino acid that when metabolised by the human body has an effect on the nerves in the urinary tract. In some people, this can result in sexual stimulation. There is also a species of asparagus in India called “shatavari”, which translates as “woman with a hundred husbands”. This may however mean a woman who has patience and strength of character, rather than relating to her love life.
Asparagus is available all year round, although its natural season is in the early summer.
Bananas Could Have Aphrodisiac Qualities
Similar to the asparagus, the banana is a phallic-shaped fruit and evidence suggests its attribution as an aphrodisiac is not down to its looks alone. It contains rich amounts of B-Vitamins and Potassium, essential for the production of sex hormones and general repair of the body. In saying this, its appearance no doubt greatly assisted in this role.
There is also an Islamic myth that Adam and Eve, once they had eaten the apple, covered themselves not with vine leaves but with banana leaves.
Seafood Contains Zinc Essential for Sexual Health
Not forgetting that Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love and sensuality was born from the foaming sea, it has been a long standing belief that seafood can benefit sexual mood. The Roman satirist Juvenal wrote in his Satire VI that Venus (the Roman equivalent of Aphrodite) ate “giant oysters at midnight” – preserving their status as an aphrodisiac two thousand years ago.
Oysters are often talked about as a powerful aphrodisiac, but are less likely to be found regularly in the average fridge or corner shop. Prawns, mussels, scallops and other more readily available seafood can also happily assist, as they contain good amounts of zinc. Zinc is essential for the maintenance of smell and taste, senses subconsciously used in sexual attraction, and is also vital for healthy sperm production. Beware though, large amounts of zinc in the diet can be toxic and so the upper limit is set at 40mg per day (that’s three medium oysters).
Tomatoes for Vitamin Top Up
The humble salad fruit (it is technically a fruit and not a vegetable), the tomato may hold the key to a healthy sex drive. Firstly, it is red, and red is the colour of love. Red Valentine cards are sent every February and red roses are the ultimate in romance. According to research carried out by the University of Rochester in 2016, a man is also more attracted to a woman wearing red so it is inevitable that at some point the bright red tomato was going to be pinpointed for passion.
Scientifically speaking, tomatoes are rich in lycopene, especially when they are cooked, which is believed to reduce the risk of cancer. It also contains vitamins A and C. Kate Colquhoun, in her book “Taste – The Story of Britain Through its Cooking” reports that Medieval cooks believed tomatoes to be poisonous, rather than containing any aphrodisiac qualities. In saying this however, they are a “superfood” that could act as a “top up” of our chemical balance.
Another reason for tomatoes to be linked to love is explained by Kate Heyhoe in her article for Global Gourmet. She suggests that when the tomato arrived in Italy it was named “pomo d’Moro” (apple of the Moors – the Spanish). When asked by a French visitor what these little round fruits were called, he mistook it for the phonetically similar French “pomme d’amour” (apple of love). However they may contribute to our love life, they certainly contribute to our health and that can only have good results elsewhere!
Aphrodisiacs Can Be Widely Available
Aphrodisiacs do not have to be obscure ingredients shipped from far away places. There is evidence to suggest that some may be obtainable from the supermarket or corner shop. Chocolate, asparagus, bananas, seafood and tomatoes could all contribute to our well-being and possibly enhance our sex drives, and are widely available. With these easily found ingredients, why wait until Valentine’s Day for a romantic meal?