Your love life is lacking, and you're tempted to try certain foods to reignite the spark. Edible aphrodisiacs can turn up the heat in more ways than one.
Some foods are reputed to strip away inhibitions. Others claim to put you in the mood for lovemaking, and still others boast of improving blood flow to your genitals, enhancing performance and pleasure.
There's more folklore than scientific proof to substantiate the link between food and passionate sex. But that's no reason why you and your partner should shy away from these so-called natural love potions.
It's a win-win situation. The most notorious food aphrodisiacs are a treasure trove of nutrients necessary for sexual prowess and good health.
Sexually Suggestive Fruits and VegetablesSome people find produce erotic. Bananas, asparagus, cucumbers and carrots speak for themselves on that score.
Avocados, Greaves says, were prized by the Aztecs, who called them "testicle trees" because they grow in pairs. Ancient Greeks and Romans feasted on figs to promote potency. And let's not forget pomegranates, also known as "love apples."
Those ancient civilizations were on to something. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with vitamins and minerals required to produce sex hormones necessary for sexual arousal and pleasure.
Ever wonder where the term "honeymoon" came from?
Centuries ago, newlyweds in Europe drank honey wine during the first month of marriage to improve their sexual stamina. As a bonus, the long-ago lovebirds also got small amounts of beneficial vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants from honey.
ChocolateThe Aztec emperor Montezuma's chocolate consumption is legendary. Rumor has it that he drank 50 glasses of honey-sweetened chocolate a day in the name of virility.
Perhaps Montezuma valued chocolate for its feel-good qualities, too. Cocoa beans contain phenylethamine, a compound that triggers the release of endorphins, compounds associated with pleasure.
Nowadays, cocoa powder processed without alkaline provides the biggest bang for the buck. It contains the highest levels of the antioxidants associated with lower blood cholesterol levels, reduced inflammation in blood vessels, and maximum blood flow. Darker chocolate contains more cocoa powder.
OystersOysters are dripping with dopamine, a compound that stirs feelings of sexual desire, and pleasure. These mollusks are also bursting with zinc, a mineral that fosters the production of testosterone, necessary for arousal and pleasure in men and women.
You may need to resist the temptation to ply your paramour with raw oysters - your romantic interlude could end with a severe case of food poisoning. Most raw oysters in the U.S. carry a bacterium called Vibrio vulnificus. Healthy people are unlikely to have adverse affects from eating raw oysters, but those with diabetes, liver disease, immune systems disorders, AIDS, and other chronic diseases can end up with a severe infection that may be fatal.
SalmonYou can't get down when you're uptight. Eating salmon can help brighten your disposition.
"Salmon harbors an abundance of omega-3 fats, which qualifies it as a natural mood booster," says Susan Kleiner, PhD, RD, author of The Good Mood Diet: Feel Great While You Lose Weight.
Salmon also supplies large amounts of vitamin D. Researchers at the University of Toronto have found that vitamin D appears to work in the brain like many antidepressant medications do: by raising levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that induces feelings of calm and banishes bad moods.
Of course, if your man caught the salmon like this….
Well, wouldn’t that be romantic, LOL?
GarlicRich in antioxidants that protect against cell damage, garlic is said to stir sexual desire and increase blood flow, says Greaves.
Just be sure to eat as much as your bed partner, as the effects of garlic can linger on your breath for hours.
I couldn’t find a picture of men and garlic, so I figured men and a picnic would work, LOL. Also, doesn’t a man’s balls sort of resemble a garlic clove?
AlcoholNothing says seduction like popping the cork on the best bottle of bubbly money can buy, if that's what you enjoy.
A drink a day may help reduce the risk of heart disease in healthy people, but more than that may turn your tryst into a snooze fest.
Alcohol is a central nervous system downer. Chronic drinking is linked to erectile dysfunction, which will put a damper on lovemaking.
The Couple that Eats Together, Sleeps Together?If you enjoy foods with a reputation for making you hot to trot, you may be thinking about whipping up meals that will knock your socks off, and your partner's.
"A delicious meal can be a prelude to sex," Kleiner says.
The act of cooking together can be a form of foreplay, and the smell of food can ignite intimacy, too.
According to Greaves, research has shown that the aroma of pumpkin pie, cheese pizza, and buttered popcorn induced blood flow to the penis, and the combination of pumpkin pie and lavender did the best job.
The smell of vanilla is particularly alluring. "Add vanilla extract to whole grain French toast or drop a vanilla bean into your champagne," she recommends.
If you're not interested in any of the foods with a reputation for enhancing your love life, are you doomed to a lust-free existence? Not at all.
What matters most is that you and your partner dine on meals that include foods that you both enjoy, as long as you don't overeat or drink yourself into a stupor, Kleiner says. She puts it this way: "What you eat on a daily basis is far more important to overall sexual satisfaction that a single meal."
Good Health, the Ultimate AphrodisiacIn the long run, peak physical and emotional well-being is key to a satisfying sex life.
"If you want better sex, take care of your health," advises Judith Reichman, MD, author of I'm Not In the Mood: What Every Woman Should Know About Improving Her Libido.
Good Health, the Ultimate Aphrodisiac continued...You don't need to be model-thin to have a wonderful sex life, but if you're uncomfortable with your weight, you may not be at your best in the bedroom for a few reasons.
"Being overweight may deflate your libido, especially if you don't feel attractive," says Kleiner.
Extra body fat raises the specter of elevated blood glucose levels that can damage the blood vessels and nerves that allow for arousal and sexual pleasure. It also increases the risk for high blood pressure and clogged arteries.
Clear, flexible arteries allow maximum blood flow to all the right places during sex, enhancing your pleasure.
A balanced diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other lean protein foods helps to control your blood pressure, blood cholesterol levels, and your weight.
But don't cut too many calories.
Whatever your weight, exercise may help to ignite your love life by improving circulation, managing blood pressure, increasing energy levels, and helping you to look better, which can have a positive effect on your sex life.