Some believe aphrodisiacal foods to be a fallacy, that sexual stimulation can only come from the brain, from the way people act and treat one another, and from the things people say; physical and mental things. Others believe wholeheartedly in the power of sensual foods, and numerous studies and scientific reports have been bringing the ancient issue to light. Either way, it is hard to argue that foods considered to be aphrodisiacs have been around for millenia, and there will always be supporters that claim certain foods as libido boosting and sexual drive increasing.
This is a list of the top 15 aphrodisiac foods, either from legendary records and claims, or through scientific study and documentation.
15) Olives and Olive Oil
The Greeks believed that olives made men more virile. In fact, olives have been used to increase health for eons. Olive oil is also a good source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which the World Association of Sexology has claimed is critical for blood flow, a healthy heart, and hormone production.
Asparagus was first called an aphrodisiac in “The Perfumed Garden,” by al-Nafzawi, which is a 15th century Arabic sex manual. It was then suggested to contain aphrodisiac qualities in a 16th century Indian sex manual. True or not, asparagus is packed with folic acid, which is necessary for producing histamine that supposedly plays a role in putting someone in a good mood.
Honey is a natural energy booster because of the sugar it contains. The word ‘honeymoon’ stems from the alcoholic beverage mead (which is made from honey). It was supposed to put newly wed couples in a sensual mood. Honey contains boron, which helps regulate testosterone and energy levels.
A study by sciencedaily.com claims that this succulent fruit might have a Viagra-like effect on men, thanks to the plant nutrient citrulline. This nutrient improves circulation and helps relax blood vessels, while also providing beneficial effects on the immune and cardiovascular systems. These findings don’t necessarily mean watermelon is a libido booster.
The fig was the forbidden fruit that Eve gave to Adam. While this isn’t a scientific explanation of its aphrodisiacal qualities, figs do contain antioxidants and polyphenols, which have been linked to prolonging sexual performance.
10) Pumpkin Pie
While some foods are linked to improving one’s sexual experience because of the nutrients and vitamins they provide when eaten, some offer a more sensual experience when smelled. Studies conducted by by the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago found pumpkin pie to be one of these. Apparently the scent of pumpkin pie increased penile blood flow by 40% and also increased women’s sexual desire because of the cinnamon and vanilla.
This fresh superfood has been called an aphrodisiac for a long time. Maybe it’s because of its pear-shape or its light taste. Barbara Klein, a professor of food and nutrition at the University of Illinois believes it is because of the food’s high levels of vitamin E, which help maintain a “youthful vigor and energy.”
Besides its phallic shape and inherent symbolism, bananas contain bromelain, an enzyme that is believed to prolong sexual performance for men. The fruit also carries a compound of tryptophan, a nutrient that metabolizes into serotonin (the feel-good chemical). Eating bananas also stimulates the brain into releasing dopamine, and they’re a strong source of potassium, vitamin B, and energy.
The last fruit on this list, cherries are glistening and shiny, and the ripe fresh inside entice aphrodisiac-searchers. Besides only being available for one short season, adding to the rarity of this superfruit, cherries are also packed with healthy nutrients, including vitamins A, C, and E, potassium, magnesium, iron, and more. Besides the energy boosting qualities, cherries also contain melatonin, an antioxidant and hormone that helps regulate heart beat. Put a bowl of these next to the bedside table and you might be in for a sweet treat.
This one is a bit arbitrary for this list, and there is certainly no scientific evidence backing up booze as an aphrodisiac. That being said, there are plenty of studies showing what alcohol does do: Make people less anxious and public-spirited, while inhibiting protective behaviors and boosting the ego. Liquid courage may not have the scientific qualities to make it an aphrodisiac, but all those other things certainly help to loosen a person up. How many one-night stands in the world started with a salad? And how many started with a bottle of booze? A rhetorical question, of course, but the answer to that comparison is pretty self-evident.
5) Chili Peppers
This aphrodisiac is one of the most popular in the world. To put it simply, eating chili peppers creates physiological responses that are similar to those experienced when having sex. They help release and stimulate endorphins, which are the equivalent of chemical painkillers that put out internal heat. Chili peppers speed up the heart rate and make you sweat, which mirrors how one feels when aroused. They also contain capsaicin, which is a powerful irritant. All of the hundreds of variations of chili peppers have their own distinct hotness and flavor, but they’ve all been used as aphrodisiacs since ancient times.
Ah, the most cliché aphrodisiac. I’m sure you were wondering where this one would fall on the list. While many supposed aphrodisiacs resemble the male anatomy (carrots, asparagus, bananas, the list goes on), oysters have the distinct quality of resembling the female genitalia. The 18th century Casanova legendarily used to eat 50 raw oysters during breakfast to increase his sex drive. Beyond the stories, oysters have some scientific proof to back that statement up. They are high in zinc, which is reputedly great for lovemaking. Researchers have also found that they contain rare amino acids which trigger the production of sex hormones. They also are rich in D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate, which increase testosterone levels. So let it be known that there is good reason for the king of aphrodisiacs to be so popular.
The other most well-known aphrodisiac on this list, chocolate does not actually have much scientific data to support its claim as a love-inducer. It does contain tryptophan – which breaks down into serotonin, making you happy – and caffeine, which keeps you awake, both pertinent to lovemaking. However, chocolate’s real secret is in phenylethylamine, which is a natural neurotransmitter version of amphetamine. High levels are associated with love. Eating chocolate also causes a spike in dopamine. Finally, the dark, sweet substance contains theobromine, which raises your heart rate and dilates blood vessels, as during sex. So maybe this Valentine’s Day favorite has more going for it than scientists would like to let on.
Fish eggs are a symbol of wealth, which can be considered an aphrodisiac in its own right. The ever-busy love machine Casanova would supposedly eat a spoonful or two before his ritualistic sex. Besides being a symbol of wealth and emulating the reproductive system, caviar has some scientific qualities as an aphrodisiac. The salty eggs are rich in phosphorus, and they’re nourishing for nerve cells. They also are a source of Omega 3 fatty acids, which has been claimed to help treat depression and bipolar disorder. Sturgeon contains zinc, like oysters, which helps blood flow.
Black and white truffles can be considered one of the most extravagant aphrodisiac foods on the planet. Part of their allure is their scarcity, being only found in a few places worldwide. The scent of truffles, when ripe, produces a scent that is extremely similar to the male pheromone androstenone. They have been called the “testicles of the earth.” Napoleon would eat truffles to increase his masculine potency and ability. But, besides little emperors, there are a few studies which support the claim of the rare fungi as an aphrodisiac. A British university experiment showed that both men and women who were exposed to the scent of androstenone were more likely to rate other people as attractive than those who were not exposed to the compound. It may not be very scientific, but truffles are still considered one of the most sensual foods on the planet.