Cupid’s arrows may be back in storage, but you can still experience Valentine-like desire all year long. All you need to do is feast on foods that will inspire a sensual night (or day) of love.
The word aphrodisiac stems from Aphrodite (the Greek Goddess of Love), and it is said to be something that inspires lust. Dr. Christopher Calapai, D.O., a New York City Osteopathic Physician board certified in family and anti-aging medicine, explains that aphrodisiacs are “foods that have certain chemical properties that could increase pheromones, estrogen or testosterone, or heighten our interest in sex.”
To be considered a true aphrodisiac, the substance must be consumed orally, and must reliably increase libido or sexual desire within minutes.
Here are the top 10 foods that are known to ignite desire:
Natural Aphrodisiacs #1. Oysters
Oysters are one of the most notorious aphrodisiacs in the world. “Oysters offer a lean source of protein to help give you energy all night long. In addition to offering the body zinc, which helps blood flow and nourishes sperm, there’s scientific evidence that an amino acid found in oysters may directly raise sexual hormone levels,” says Dr. Calapai. Zinc also enhances vaginal lubrication. Researchers have found that oysters contain amino acids that trigger the temporary production of sex hormones, particularly testosterone. These amino acids may also help improve the quality of sperm, backing up the claim that they are good for fertility. Oysters are high in protein but low in calories, so you won’t feel any guilt eating these.
Natural Aphrodisiacs # 2. Bananas
With their phallic shape, bananas already look tempting and sensual, but they also contain bromelain, an enzyme, which Dr. Calapai says, could help maintain testosterone production. The fruit contains potassium and loads of vitamin B, which will raise your energy levels and “rev up sex hormones,” he adds. Also, a study by The Smell and Taste Research Foundation found a 12 percent increase in female sexual arousal when females smelled banana bread combined with licorice.
Natural Aphrodisiacs # 3. Honey
If you look at a healthy hive of 50 to 90 thousand, 95 percent or so are female. The female bees engage in flower sex, pollinating one flower to the next. Honey is made through pollination and is actually bee vomit. It contains an abundance of enzymes and vitamins, and it also contains boron, which helps regulate estrogen and testosterone levels. It is also a natural source of carbohydrates, which provide our body with energy. Evidence suggests it can even boost performance, endurance, and reduce muscle fatigue in athletes.
Natural Aphrodisiacs #4. Watermelon
Packed with citrulline and lycopene, watermelon may have a Viagra-like effect on the body. A study in the journal Urology found that the citrulline, which increases the amount of nitric oxide in the blood, in watermelons can improve blood flow to the penis and increase erection hardness. This low-calorie fruit is also a great source of vitamin C. Since it is more than 90 percent water, it will help keep you hydrated and increase natural lubrication.
Natural Aphrodisiacs #5. Pine Nuts
High in energizing zinc, as well as fatty acids, pine nuts have been linked to a healthy sex drive and are also considered aphrodisiacs. They were historically named an aphrodisiac because of the effort required to procure these oily gems from pinecones. Pine nuts are also considered to be a brain food due to high levels of boron. Many believe the brain to be the most important sexual organ in the body.
Natural Aphrodisiacs #6. Arugula
This peppery tasting plant has been documented as an aphrodisiac since the first century A.D. “The bite of the aromatic leaf might get you in the mood, and the minerals and antioxidants found in dark leafy greens like arugula have also been proven to block environmental contaminants that could negatively harm libido,” explains Dr. Calapai. Another study found that arugula leaf extracts boosted sperm activity, suggesting that the herb’s nutrients may have aphrodisiac properties. Arugula even contains an abundance of vitamin E, which supports sex hormone production!
Natural Aphrodisiacs #7. Olive oil
Packed with antioxidants, olives, and their oil have been used for centuries for health. The Greeks believed they made men more virile as well. “Olive oil is a good source of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which are critical for a healthy heart, smooth blood flow, and stable hormone production, all needed to keep the brain, prostate and penis in good shape,” says Dr. Calapai.
Natural Aphrodisiacs #8. Figs
Figs are one of the oldest known plants in the world. It is said to be Cleopatra’s favorite fruit, since ritual copulation followed its arrival in Ancient Greece. Legend has it that eating a fresh fig while naked in front of a woman is one of the most erotic acts you can perform. Although they are mainly considered an aphrodisiac because of their appearance, figs are full of energy-boosting potassium and amino acids that increase libido and sexual stamina. “Throughout history, the combination of the shape (looks like male testicles) the succulent texture, sweet scent combined with arousal compounds like flavonoids, antioxidants, and polyphenols lead to a sense of euphoria, which may prolong sex,” Dr. Calapai says. They are also a good source of essential minerals such as magnesium, manganese, potassium (which lowers blood pressure), and calcium (which supports bone density).
Natural Aphrodisiacs #9. Pomegranate
These bright gems enclosed in a thick rose-colored husk are filled with tangy sweet antioxidants, which support healthy blood flow and healthy cells by destroying free radicals in the body. A study by The Male Clinic in Beverly Hills, California also found that pomegranate juice aided in improving mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. Pomegranate oil is also one of the best natural ingredients to support your body’s ability to maintain a balanced pH, and studies show that vaginal problems are more likely to occur when your vaginal pH is unbalanced. Natural lubricants, such as Honey Colony’s Curious, can help support your vaginal health and make for a great intimate night.
Natural Aphrodisiacs #10. Chai Tea
Skip the coffee and end the night with a cup of Indian chai tea. The typical spices in this brew include ginger, which will get the blood flowing, cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. These four main spices were “used by eastern healers to increase sexual desire and libido,” Dr. Calapai says. Research suggests that the scent of cinnamon has aphrodisiac effects. Since it has almost no caffeine, the stimulant effect is less than coffee.
So come on, spice up your post-Valentine’s Day with natural aphrodisiacs! Pick up these foods at your local store and create a sexy dinner menu throughout the year.
Meredith Minor is a freelance writer, dance teacher, avid reader and wife from Nashville, TN.
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