What are aphrodisiac foods?
Aphrodisiacs are substances that are used to increase the libido. Aphrodisiac foods (a.k.a. sexy foods or romantic foods) are aphrodisiacs specifically in the form of food. There is a primal connection between food and sexual arousal. Both food and sex have been required for humanity to survive and grow. They can also be sources of great pleasure, which is enhanced by aphrodisiac foods.
For millennia, cultures have greatly valued aphrodisiacs because one of their main goals was to propagate, that is, make babies and grow their population. It was only natural for them to look for ways to increase virility, fertility and sexual pleasure.
Nowadays, the world population has grown to the point that procreation isn’t nearly as urgent a need for the survival of humanity. Physical satisfaction, however, is still quite important as we are inherently social creatures. Aphrodisiac foods are popular for enhancing romantic dinners, especially for special occasions like Valentine’s Day.
It’s in your head…It’s science.
There are many foods that are widely considered to be aphrodisiacs. Surprisingly, not a single food has yet to be scientifically proven to directly stimulate the sexual organs in human beings.
This is not to say that eating certain foods will have zero effect in heightening your carnal desire. You see (without getting too technical), sexual urges come from the brain. This happens when the brain gets triggered by certain external information experienced through the senses: sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. Guess what is often experienced through the senses? Food. In other words, food (which is taken in through the senses) is interpreted by your brain and can potentially be a turn on.
Types of aphrodisiacs
Many aphrodisiac foods usually fall into one or more of these categories:
- smooth/rich & creamy foods – These foods have velvety soft textures and/or decadent flavors that release the “feel good” chemicals in your brain. (e.g. avocados, chocolate lava cake, crème brûlée, dark chocolate, mousse, panna cotta, and whipped cream)
- exotic foods – Exotic foods create an air of excitement and adventure. This can cause an adrenaline rush which may be arousing to certain individuals. (e.g. exotic fruits, exotic vegetables and exotic delicacies)
- spicy foods – Spicy foods can increase the heart-rate and get your blood pumping. Also, like exotic foods, spicy foods can provoke a rush of adrenaline that can increase the sex drive. (e.g. hot chili peppers, hot sauces, wasabi, authentic Thai food and Indian food)
- phallic/yonic/mammiform foods – These foods resemble sexual organs, which elicits thoughts of oral stimulation when eaten. (e.g. oysters, dried apricots, bananas, hot dogs, pomegranates and melons)
- animal genitalia & eggs – Eating prepared animal genitalia has long been considered by many cultures to be a source of virility and arousal. (e.g. bull testicles a.k.a. Rocky Mountain oysters, pizzle, caviar and roe)
Many also consider alcohol to be a type of aphrodisiac since it is used as a social lubricant, putting people at ease in social situations. There is strong (but limited) evidence that red wine, may increase lustfulness and can play a role in improving the imbiber(s) chances of “getting lucky.” However, it does not necessarily improve performance. In addition, too much alcohol can actually decrease performance.
It may be worthwhile to note that certain herbs have also been known to increase the libido as well as treat erectile dysfunction or fertility. However, as with all the aphrodisiac foods above, scientific evidence is inadequate:
- fenugreek – Is an herb from the Mediterranean region. It is used to treat many different issues including erectile dysfunction, male infertility, menstrual pains, and low libido.
- ginkgo biloba – This leafy tree is said to help with cardiovascular problems, bladder infections, anxiety and low libido.
- ginsgeng – Ginseng is taken to help boost energy, promote relaxation, and treat erectile dysfunction.
- maca – Maca is a superfood that is considered to possibly help with anxiety, decreased energy, depression, enlarged prostate, infertility, menopausal symptoms and low libido.
- saffron – This spice is used to treat depression, PMS, erectile dysfunction and low libido.
- tribulus – This plant is often take to improve athletic performance, circulation and low libido.
Many other foods are considered to be aphrodisiacs because they are anti-inflammatory, improve blood flow, or reduce stress. Of course, this is all good for your health, which (over time) can increase your sex drive. However, these foods lack conclusive scientific evidence that they provide any immediate or direct effects.
In the end, aphrodisiac foods simply haven’t been studied enough in humans to prove which ones work with certainty along with their optimal dosages. Nevertheless, they have been shown to work in part due to the placebo effect, or because that food strikes the individual’s fancy. This explains why there are so many different foods that are labeled as “aphrodisiacs.” Everyone has their own beliefs and tastes. ?
How do I prepare aphrodisiac foods?
Because there are so many different kinds of foods that could possibly be aphrodisiacs (depending on who’s eating it), there are infinite ways to combine and prepare them. You can simply prep aphrodisiac foods individually (e.g. grilled avocados), or as a combination of different ingredients (e.g. grilled avocados filled with diced peppers). Pick a few aphrodisiacs listed above that catch your eye and try them out. Don’t be afraid to try something new, you might surprise yourself.
Otherwise, you can start out by following the recipe below for simple treat you can make with aphrodisiac foods, spicy hot dark chocolate. It combines the spicy, rich & creamy aspects of aphrodisiac foods. It’s really quick, easy and conveniently made for you and your special someone.
Spicy Dark Hot Chocolate
- 2 mugs
- 2 cups milk (or preferred milk like almond milk or soy milk)
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper (add more for extra heat)
- 3 ounces dark chocolate (approximately 3 squares)
- 1 pinch Himalayan salt (or preferred salt)
- cardamom (a pinch or more to taste; can also use nutmeg or allspice)
- First, put all the ingredients in a small saucepan.
- Put on the stove over medium heat. Immediately, mix until all ingredients are incorporated and liquid is steaming.
- Pour into mugs and enjoy!
Bonus: How to engage the five senses for a more romantic dinner
If you’re preparing your own romantic dinner, here are some quick tips to help you turn up the romance:
- sight: Dim the lights, or use candles/string lights/rope lights instead. (Turn it up: Eat alfresco under the stars, if weather permits, or in front of a toasty fireplace.)
- sound: Play some soft romantic music in the background, or try out these food songs to lighten the mood. (Turn it up: Have a live band play while you dine, or serenade your date.)
- smell: Wear an alluring cologne, perfume or scented lotion that can only be detected within inches of contact. (Turn it up: Bake some cookies, brownies, or something warm and smells delicious in the background.)
- taste: Taste test your aphrodisiac foods to make sure they actually taste good. (Turn it up: Hire a personal chef to make you a gourmet aphrodisiac meal, or take cooking lessons beforehand to expertly make your own meal.)
- touch: Make sure the ambient temperature isn’t too cold or too hot. (Turn it up: Bring extra pillows, blankets and fuzzy socks if you’re outside and it gets a little chilly. Also, make sure your seats are well-cushioned and comfortable.)
Kristina Reynolds is the Founder & CEO of Glutto and an alumna of the University of California, San Diego. She writes articles & posts for Glutto Digest with insights from fellow industry experts. Furthermore, she is the author of The Fittest Food Lovers: How EVERY BODY Can be Incredibly Fit and Still Enjoy Food, a collaborative philanthropic book with proceeds going to charities that fight world hunger.