As Valentine’s Day approaches and romance is in the air, you might be looking for ways to rev up that lovin’ feeling. Here are 10 natural aphrodisiacs that will be sure to put you in the mood.
Casanova, the legendary 18th-century Venetian famous for his romantic exploits, reputedly ate 50 oysters for breakfast each day to boost his libido. Oysters have been viewed as a potent aphrodisiac for centuries, and recent studies have shown that raw oysters are full of certain amino acids that can trigger increased levels of sex hormones. What’s more, their high zinc content helps with testosterone production, which can stimulate libido in both men and women.
The classic Valentine’s gift of a box of chocolates may be more than just a sweet treat. Chocolate’s aphrodisiac properties have been touted for centuries, and modern-day scientists have found chocolate contains a couple of chemicals that could account for that: tryptophan, which is used to produce serotonin, a brain chemical involved in sexual arousal; and phenylethylamine, a stimulant that’s also released in the brain when we fall in love.
The capsaicin in chili peppers causes that “heat” factor after just one bite — heart rate increases, sweat is produced and cheeks start to flush. Sound familiar? These are many of the same physical feelings caused by sexual arousal. Eating hot peppers can mimic that feeling, putting your mind in the mood for love. Hot peppers also cause the body to release endorphins, those feel-good natural chemicals, which could enhance any amorous rendezvous.
The aphrodisiac properties of figs may be more about their appearance than anything else. Since ancient times, figs have been viewed as a “sexy” fruit, partly because of their resemblance to female sex organs. But visual and symbolic properties aside, figs can also help keep you healthy and strong for a night with your Valentine due to their antioxidants, flavonoids, fibre and potassium.
The avocado is another food that gets its aphrodisiac reputation from its appearance — in fact, the ancient Aztecs called the avocado tree Ahuacuatl, which translates to “testicle tree,” so named because of the way the fruit hangs on the tree in pairs. But its aphrodisiac properties may be more than just appearance related; this green fruit is also rich in nutrients that are beneficial to sexual health, such as beta carotene, magnesium and vitamin E.
Pine nuts are full of zinc, a mineral that aids in testosterone production, which in turn stimulates libido. People have been using pine nuts as an aphrodisiac since medieval times, sometimes even grinding them up to make love potions. But while love potions may have gone out of style, you can always add pine nuts to your Valentine’s Day dinner as salad topping or to a pasta recipe.
READ MORE: A budget friendly Valentine’s
With their luscious red colour, strawberries were once known as a symbol of Venus, Roman goddess of love. The myriad of tiny seeds in each strawberry was also viewed as a symbol of fertility. From a nutrient perspective, strawberries contain a high amount of vitamin C, the consumption of which has been linked with improved sperm count. And for added aphrodisiac effect, try strawberries dipped in chocolate.
The ancient Greeks regarded the pomegranate as a symbol of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, pleasure and procreation. And from a scientific perspective, pomegranates and pomegranate juice have been shown to increase testosterone levels, helping to stimulate sexual appetite. Pomegranates are also rich in Vitamin C and antioxidants, both of which boost overall health.
As far back as 500 BC, Greek physician Hippocrates was prescribing honey to patients as a way to promote sexual vigour. Honey is rich in boron, which helps regulate estrogen and testosterone, and honey’s sticky sweetness has a sensual quality that may help get lovers in the mood.
Beets have long been considered a love-enhancer in many cultures throughout history, and for good reason. They contain high levels of boron, which aids in the productions of sex hormones; betaine, a substance that helps relax your mind; and tryptophan, which can help with feelings of well-being and sexual arousal.
© 2016 Food Network Canada