An aphrodisiac is a substance that increases libido when consumed. Aphrodisiacs are distinct from substances that address fertility issues such as impotence or secondary sexual (dys)function such as erectile dysfunction (ED).
The name comes from the Greek ἀφροδισιακόν, aphrodisiakon, i.e. “sexual, aphrodisiac”, from aphrodisios, i.e. “pertaining to Aphrodite”, the Greek goddess of love.
Throughout history, many foods, drinks, and behaviors have had a reputation for making sex more attainable and/or pleasurable. However, from a historical and scientific standpoint, the alleged results may have been mainly due to mere belief by their users that they would be effective (placebo effect). Likewise it is noteworthy that many medicines are reported to affect libido in an inconsistent or idiopathic ways: enhancing or diminishing overall sexual desire depending on the situation of subject. This further complicates the assessment process.
Classically, to be considered an aphrodisiac, a substance should:
Be administered orally
Reliably increase libido or sexual desire (no placebo effect, no diminishment of libido)
Take effect in a relatively immediate time frame (minutes or hours, not days or weeks).
An English herbalist from the 17th century, Nicholas Culpepper, wrote that asparagus “stirs up lust in man and woman.” In 19th century France, bridegrooms were served three courses of the sexy spears at their prenuptial dinners. Apparently for a good reason: asparagus is a great source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, and thiamin and folic acid. The latter is said to boost histamine production necessary for the ability to reach orgasm in both sexes.
Through antiquity, almonds were regarded as fertility symbols. The aroma of almond supposedly arouses passion in females — or so thought the poets and scribes. The scientists say that almonds provide high doses of vitamin E, magnesium and even fiber. Therefore, there seems to be something in the almond myths after all.
Just by looking at the shape of avocado, you will see the reason why it was associated with sexuality. The Aztecs called the avocado ahuacuatl, or “testicle tree.” They thought the fruit hanging in pairs on the tree resembled testicles. The Catholic priests in Spain found this fruit so obscenely sexual that they forbade it. On the other side, avocado is rich with folic acid, vitamin B6 and potassium. They are also said to boost immune system.
By it shape its connection with sexuality is quite obvious, but you’ll also find that bananas are loaded with potassium, magnesium and B vitamins. It also contains chelating minerals and the bromeliad enzyme, said to enhance the male libido.
Basil not only makes the meals smell and taste better, but it also has a lot of beneficial effects on human body. Basil has a fantastic aroma that is said to have an aphrodisiac effect; it is also very stimulating. Using sweet basil in a pasta sauce will be sure to get your heart racing! Maybe this explains why Italians are so romantic!
Pure chocolate, the king of natural aphrodisiacs, contains a host of compounds including anandamide, the psyochoactive feel-good chemical, and PEA (phenylethylamine), the “love chemical,” which releases dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain and peaks during orgasm. PEA is said to help induce feelings of excitement, attraction and euphoria. Cacao also contains tryptophan, a key component of the neurotransmitter serotonin known to promote a sense of well-being and relaxation.
This sexy fruit has long been thought of as an arousing stimulant, and an open fig is believed to emulate the female sex organs. Figs are steeped in history and are one of the oldest-recorded fruits. They are mentioned in the Bible (Adam and Eve wore fig leaves to cover their private parts), are reported to be Cleopatra’s favorite fruit, and the ancient Greeks held them as sacred and associated them with love and fertility.
Now, wait a minute! I know it’s stinky, but more importantly it’s strong, which is exactly what it will happen to guys. Garlic is chockfull of allicin, an ingredient that will increase blood flow. So, whip up an extra-garlicky dish and keep the Altoids handy.
Oysters are probably the food most associated with being an aphrodisiac, and most people are aware of their reputation for increasing sexual desire. Oysters may be thought an aphrodisiac because of their high zinc content, which helps produce sperm and increases libido. Raw oysters are best served with a glass of chilled Champagne for a truly romantic meal!
Sweet, sticky honey is a great source of boron, a trace mineral that helps the body use and metabolize estrogen, the female sex hormone. Studies have shown that this mineral may also enhance testosterone levels in the blood, the hormone responsible for promoting sex drive and orgasm in both men and women. In addition, honey contains B vitamins needed for testosterone, as well as other nutrients, enzymes and phytochemicals.
The best aphrodisiac though is confidence. Feeling safe, relaxed and loving yourself would easily create the perfect medium for you to feel sexy and have a healthy relationship.