It doesn't matter where you are, the mention of aphrodisiac foods will invariably trigger some entertaining conversation, be it awkward and hushed or loud and full of deep-bellied laughter. The question on many people's minds is: do they actually exist or is it just old wives tales? We did a bit of research...
The Myths And Science Of Aphrodisiac Foods
What Are Aphrodisiac Foods?
Aphrodisiac foods are foods that arouse a sexual instinct, brings on desire, or increases sexual pleasure or performance. There are 3 main reasons foods get added to the aphrodisiac list:
- Some scientific research exists to suggest a positive impact on libido, performance or pleasure (very few foods are within this category).
- Foods that trigger 'feel good' hormones which can have an indirect impact on libido.
- Foods that look similar to certain body parts and can trigger a potentially arousing thought process.
So what's on the list of aphrodisiac foods and why?
Aphrodisiac foods backed by some science:
Maca is a root vegetable with many claimed health benefits. In Peru it is eaten fresh and prepared similarly to a potato. In most other parts of the world it is commonly found dried and ground into powder. It has a malt-like taste, lickened to unsweetened Horlicks but quite unique in its flavour.
Preliminary studies have shown maca improves anxiety, depression and sexual function in postmenopausal women, improves libido in healthy men, has a positive effect on symptoms of erectile dysfunction, can result in increased fertility in men and aids in energy boosting in athletes. It is loaded with vitamin C and also a good source of iron.
It is often referred to as the Peruvian ginseng or Peruvian viagra. Dosage levels are still on the vague side but common applications include adding it to smoothies and breakfast porridges. See our recipes containing maca powder.
Feel free to browse through any of the relevant linked studies to get a better understanding of the dosage levels applicable in each.
It should be noted that studies are still in their early stages and impact of maca on hormonal issues or other medications has not yet been conducted.
Fenugreek is popular in South Asian dishes and often referenced in Ayurvedic dishes and remedies for its anti inflammatory and libido-boosting properties. It is a herb used in seed form, with a slight nutty flavour. Studies have shown some positive impact of fenugreek on libido and sexual function in healthy women.
Ginseng, while rarely available in herb form, is often used as an energy booster and mood booster, in supplements. Research on its impact on libido is limited but one variety, Korean red ginseng, was found to boost sexual arousal in post menopausal women.
Foods with the 'feel-good' quality.
While some foods have been titled as aphrodisiacs little scientific evidence exists to support the notion. That being said, there are psychological links between serotonin and libido so foods that facilitate an increase in serotonin levels definitely won't hurt libido levels.
Serotonin is created in the body through the amino acid tryptophan. Foods that are high in tryptophan include:
- Nutritional yeast
- Eggs (with the yolk)
- Cheese (the real version with live cultures)
- Nuts and seeds
See our recipes containing nutritional yeast here.
Shop our aphrodisiac foods online.
Common myths around aphrodisiac foods
Many foods that have been claimed to have aphrodisiac qualities seem to have no justifiable reason for the claim except a possible visual connotation or the ever-present placebo effect (which is not a bad thing!). These foods include:
- Oysters (We support quietly celebrating the excuse to not eat these slimy morsels)
Whether you feel you need a boost or not, experimenting is bound to be an entertaining experience. As always, a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle are first and foremost.