What do Cleopatra and Casanova have in common? They both believed in the properties of powerful aphrodisiacs. The food you consume can have a direct impact on your sex life, affecting your hormones, brain chemistry, energy, and stress levels. Some aphrodisiac foods have psychoactive properties, others arouse because they are psychologically suggestive, and some can actually increase blood flow to the genitals. So, get your heartbeat racing this Valentine’s Day with natural aphrodisiac foods that are certain to spice up your night.
World’s Best-Tasting Aphrodisiac: Chocolate
Eating chocolate causes the release of mood-boosting, stress-reducing serotonin. The sweet stuff also causes a release of phenylethylamine, which produces changes in blood pressure and blood-sugar levels, leading to feelings of excitement conducive to lovemaking. Just make sure to choose antioxidant-rich dark chocolate.
Oysters: A Traditional Aphrodisiac
Oysters have long been considered the food of love, and legend has it that Casanova ate dozens of oysters a day, once even seducing a vestal virgin by sliding an oyster from his lips. Oysters carry a hefty dose of zinc—and zinc has been linked to male fertility, potency, and sex drive, as well as being essential to sperm production. One oyster contains your daily zinc requirement, so imagine what serving your boyfriend/husband an appetizer of a few oysters as an aphrodisiac can do.
Strawberries: The Natural Aphrodisiac Wrapped by Mother Nature
A perfect little red heart, the strawberry is an edible Valentine. Touted as a natural aphrodisiac fruit since the ancient Roman era, the strawberry was a symbol of Venus, the goddess of love. In the French countryside, there was once a tradition of serving newlyweds cold strawberry soup to help promote a romantic honeymoon. And legend has it that if you break a strawberry in half and share it with a member of the opposite sex, you will soon fall in love with each other.
Spices & Herbal Aphrodisiacs
The right herbs and spices in food not only heat things up on the tongue but also in the bedroom. Capsaicin, the substance that gives peppers their kick, stimulates nerve endings to release chemicals. This raises your heart rate and triggers the release of endorphins, giving you the pleasurable feeling of a natural high. Chili pepper and ginger help improve circulation, and hot spices like cayenne, curry, and cumin help warm the body. Also, the intoxicating aromas of exotic spices infuse romance into the atmosphere.
Potent Garlic as an Aphrodisiac
Garlic remains the most popular aphrodisiac among modern-day Greeks. On Corfu, widowers who remarry are feted before the wedding with an assortment of dishes, all of which are heavily seasoned with garlic. Many Greeks believe that chewing 6 heads of raw garlic each day will help them conceive. Since it improves blood circulation, garlic is generally accepted as a potent aphrodisiac. Studies have recently shown that garlic in certain forms can stimulate the production of nitric oxide synthase, the enzyme primarily responsible for the mechanism of erection, particularly in individuals who have low levels of this enzyme.
Say Hello to the Sexy Pine Nut
Pine nuts have more protein than any other nut. Besides providing protein to help increase stamina, pine nuts are heavy in healthful monounsaturated fats, zinc, and other nutrients that are linked with increased sexual desire. Sexier than your average peanut, pine nuts are found on the menus of many gourmet restaurants.
Avocado: The Aztec’s Aphrodisiac Food
According to an ancient belief, food aids the part of the body it resembles. In fact, the Aztecs valued the avocado as an aphrodisiac and named it “ahuacale” (testicle) because it grows in pairs. Though science can neither confirm nor deny that this fruit will get your fire going, it will give you fuel in the form of healthy fats, protein, and potassium.
A Liquid Aphrodisiac: Red Wine
Red wine, like a Pinot Noir wine, is healthy for your heart and your romantic life. Red wine may help prevent blood clots and reduce the blood vessel damage caused by fat deposits. It also is a particularly rich source of flavonoids, which have antioxidant properties and raise HDL (good) cholesterol. Plus, wine relaxes inhibitions and stimulates the senses. So, pair your Valentine’s Day dinner with a glass of red wine and enjoy!
• 10 Great Gifts to Want for Valentine’s Day
• Make Your Home Your Love Nest
• Find Your Love Match & Every Day Will Feel Like Valentine’s Day
Tanya Zuckerbrot, Health & Fitness Contributing Editor
Tanya Zuckerbrot is a Manhattan-based registered dietitian and the creator of the F-Factor Diet, an innovative nutritional program she founded in 1999. The F-Factor Diet: Discover the Secret to Permanent Weight Loss (Putnum, 2006) debuted in hardcover in January 2007. This common-sense plan, used successfully by hundreds of Tanya’s clients, provides tools for improved health . . . Read more of Tanya’s tips
Super Bowl Sunday DIY: Make This a “Super” Bowl Party
Whether you watch football or you have to google who’s playing in the Super Bowl this weekend, a good Super Bowl party is great fun. Special-events planner extraordinaire Jennifer Gilbert shares simple, fun tips on how to make your Super Bowl party a win.
Project Runway’s Mondo Guerra: Win His New T-Shirts
Feel good by looking good this Valentine’s Day! Rock these limited-edition tees designed by Project Runway contestant Mondo Guerra. You could win 2! Just tell us about your dream Valentine’s Day date and you could win these hot V-Day tees for you and the boy of your choice. Click here to enter.