Just in time for Valentine’s, check out some of the foods which are sure to get your pulse racing…
Throughout history, certain foods have been feted as ‘foods of love’ for their aphrodisiac qualities. Sometimes it is not even to do with the nutrients in the foods but their suggestive shapes, sensual feel in the mouth, or arousing aromas. In the month we celebrate love, let’s take time to up our mojos by celebrating some of these classic foods of love.
Strawberries are red and have a natural heart-shape. What more could you ask for a food of love? In ancient Rome, strawberries were associated with Venus, the goddess of love, and the large number of tiny seeds in the berries was a symbol of fertility. Newlyweds in France were traditionally served with cold strawberry soup prior to their honeymoon. While they don’t directly increase libido, strawberries have high concentrations of vitamin C, potassium and folic acid, which are essential in promoting good health and giving your body the energy for hanky panky. There is a lot you can do with strawberries, including playing with them during foreplay. Dip them in chocolate and feed them to each other with your fingers. Bon appétit!
With a shape suggestive of female genitalia, oysters are one of nature’s top aphrodisiacs. The notorious 18th century lover Giacomo Casanova is said to have popped 50 raw oysters daily to increase his sexual stamina. For a long time, scientists expressed scepticism about the amorous benefits of indulging on the slippery sea creatures. In March 2005, Casanova was vindicated when researchers announced that it is possible that oysters are really aphrodisiac. It was discovered that certain amino acids found in oysters promoted the production of testosterone and progesterone in male and female rats respectively. The production of those hormones naturally increases libido, so yes, oysters are aphrodisiacs. Oysters are also loaded with zinc, a nutrient which promotes healthy sperm. To get the greatest benefit from oysters, eat them raw. If they worked for Casanova, they might just work for you.
In many cultures all over the world, chilies have long been regarded as aphrodisiacs. This was due to their shape, colour and the body’s reaction upon their consumption. The deep red colour of chilies is frequently associated with love and passion and their spicy heat is thought to stimulate sexual arousal. Emperor Montezuma used chilies to spice his chocolate drink to increase its potency as an aphrodisiac. Research shows that chilies contain concentrated amounts of the chemical capsaicin which when consumed stimulates the release of endorphins and mimics the physical reaction during sex, such as increased heart rate, increased sensitivity at nerve endings and induced sweating.
The Aztecs called chocolate the ‘food of the gods’ and revered it for its aphrodisiac qualities. The emperor Montezuma is rumoured to have consumed cocoa beans in copious amounts to fuel his romantic trysts. The sensuality of chocolate melting on the tongue is undeniable. But there is also a scientific explanation for chocolate’s famed aphrodisiac qualities. Chocolate contains three elements which are certain to get things going in bed: PEA (phenylethylamine), theobromine, and tryptophan. PEA is a compound which the body generates naturally when you are in love, which gives you feelings of attraction, excitement and giddiness. Theobromine elevates the heart rate and dilates the blood vessels in the same way as sexual arousal. Tryptophan breaks down into serotonin, which promotes a sense of wellbeing, the same effect created by sex.
Most scientists argue that the level of these substances in chocolate is not enough to have any considerable effect. However, anecdotal evidence begs to disagree. Women who eat chocolate regularly report feeling more sexy. Some studies have also shown that regular chocolate consumption is associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and mood disorders. Enjoy some chocolate with your sweetheart this month. Remember, the darker the chocolate the better.
Deliciously sweet, sticky, viscous, and golden in colour, honey has always enjoyed a place of honour as a seductive food. In ancient times honey enjoyed an association with the Greek goddess of love, beauty and sexual ripeness. In some cultures, newlyweds were offered a honey concoction, which they were to drink until the first moon of their marriage. That tradition is what gave birth to the term ‘honeymoon’. In India, honey was also touted as an aphrodisiac and according to the Kama Sutra, it heightens orgasm. Even Hippocrates is said to have prescribed honey for sexual vigour. Other than its sticky deliciousness which lovers can play with, honey has no other clear connection to sensuality. It is packed with amino acids and vitamin B which promote good health and as a sugar, it provides energy, which comes in handy for that night of passion.
Some say that the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was not an apple, but a pomegranate. The Greek goddess of love Aphrodite is credited in Greek mythology with planting the first pomegranate fruit. Because of its abundance of seeds, the pomegranate is associated with fertility in many cultures. The luscious fruit appears as a romantic symbol in many poems, literature and other art forms dating back centuries. A study in 2011 by Queen Margaret University of Edinburgh found that drinking pomegranate juice daily lowered cortisol levels, which corresponds with an increase in testosterone which leads to an increase in libido. In addition, pomegranate is already feted as a super food which is full of antioxidants which fight cancer-causing free radicals, ward off diseases and help blood circulation. If that is not enough to convince you, then you might be delighted to know that pomegranate can also help with losing belly fat, too.