Men and women have sought aphrodisiacs, agents that arouse or increase sexual response or desire, since the beginning of time. Aphrodisiacs may well be the one thing that crosses all barriers. We all want to have better sex.
One category of foods that were thought to be aphrodisiacs are foods that resemble genitalia. Eggs and caviar may come to mind, as well as asparagus, celery, and onions. Clams and oysters also lay claim to aphrodisiac qualities because of their shape and texture. Oysters, in fact, are high in zinc -- a nutrient that was lacking in people's diets at one time; eating them could improve a nutritionally deficient diet, thus improving a person's overall health and increasing their sex drive.
Spicy foods have long been considered to be sexual stimulants. There is some scientific truth to this claim in that foods that are heavily spiced often contain capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper. Eating capsaicin can cause a physiological response -- increased heart rate and metabolism, sometimes even sweating -- that is quite similar to the physical reactions experienced during sex.
Okra is another reputed vegetable of love. Rich in magnesium, it's a natural relaxant. It's also full of iron, zinc, and vitamin B, all nutrients that keep your sex organs healthy and happy.
Some of the other foods that are considered to be aphrodisiacs because of their nutritional value are:
Just imagining dipping some fresh bread or pita into quality olive oil is enough to turn you on, but there are actual reasons why the oil is so damn sexy. Olive oil is rich in antioxidants, which keeps the skin smooth and the body running. But additionally, the oil itself has been used for sensual massages since ancient times.
Add it to your coffee, your desserts, even your veggies—cinnamon has long been used to help control blood pressure, improve overall alertness, and get you feeling cozy. It's also a good source of manganese, which is thought to help increase male sex drive.
Basil's magic is in the scent, which is supposed to be stimulating and promotes blood flow (and probably reminds you of pizza which is also very alluring), all things that enhance the libido. The plant has also been a symbol of love since Roman times.
In addition to smelling amazing, ginger can improve blood flow and circulation (which are some of the most common causes of erectile dysfunction) and has been used in many cultures as a stimulant for desire.
There's a good chance you know about sweet potatoes' (also called "yams") sex-boosting properties thanks to Sex and the City 2. Samantha ate them in an effort to get a "natural" dose of hormones when she had to go without her menopause supplements. The root veggie contains vitamin A, which can help generate testosterone and affects arousal.
Pumpkin is high in fiber and has potassium, both good for stamina as well as magnesium, which can help calm nerves and muscles.
Champagne as an aphrodisiac has more to do with getting in the mood for a special occasion than for the actual science behind the bubbles. Studies have shown that for women, limited amounts of alcohol can increase subjective desire and potentially lower inhibitions. Larger amounts or chronic consumption can reduce libido and overall health.
It’s a fact that garlic absolutely slaps in flavor and if you’re chill with your partner’s garlic breath, it might do wonders for you in the bedroom too. Garlic is high in allicin which increases blood flow and overall cardiovascular wellness.
Apples have also been associated with increased sex drive. A 2014 study suggested that eating an apple a day correlated with better sexual quality of life in people with vaginas.
Saffron’s history as an aphrodisiac dates back to Cleopatra, who reportedly bathed in saffron-infused milk for its aphrodisiac qualities. Recent studies have also shown that saffron also helps increase sperm motility and can decrease some of the sexual side effects from taking certain antidepressants.
Your least favorite phallic fruit to eat in public, contains a bromelain enzyme—believed to increase a man’s sex drive—as well as high levels of potassium, riboflavin, and vitamin B2 which is important to keep your energy levels up while you bone.
Chocolate contains phenylethylamine—a stimulant that elicits excitement and a sense of well-being. The natural caffeine doesn’t hurt either. Make sure to get dark chocolate that’s at least 75 percent cacao to get the heart bennies too.
Not only can it help you get in the mood, the resveratrol in red wine is also a powerful antioxidant, which, again, helps decrease inflammation and helps quite literally get your blood pumping.
Not only have these been a symbol of fertility in art forever, they’re also a prime source of beneficial fatty acids like omega-3, which, again, help with hormone production. The aroma of almonds is purported to arouse passion.
Vanilla doesn’t just smell sexy, it can also create an overall calming effect. No wonder all those late-night scoops of vanilla feel so damn good.
Besides conjuring up sexy memories of summer flings gone by, watermelon is also high in citruline, a phytonutrient, Dr. Hoppe says, that increases the amount of nitric acid in the body, which in turn increases blood flow, blood vessel relaxation, and sexual arousal.
Similar to chocolate, coffee’s caffeine increases stamina and can elevate mood (because who could be happy while struggling to keep their eyes open?). Coffee increases dopamine levels in the brain, the stuff that increases desire and pleasure.
While the legend says that strawberries originated from the heart-shaped tears of Aphrodite after she learned of her lover Adonis’s death, modern-day strawberries are anything but a bummer. They’re loaded with vitamin C, which is important for the production of sex hormones and chemical neurotransmitters in the brain to increase libido. Plus, vitamin C can help keep your immune system up.
Another sexy fruit! Not only do they contain potassium and vitamin C, they also contain anthocyanins (the stuff responsible for giving them their red color), powerful antioxidants that reduce inflammation and help maintain a healthy sex drive.