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Feb 13

Food of Love – a Post for Valentine’s Day

If an object’s appearance reminds you of a sexual organ, is it likely to stimulate your sexual appetite?  This was certainly believed to be the case in ancient times.  Our ancestors believed that anything resembling a sexual organ would increase libido and potency when eaten.  Over the years, anything vaguely sexy, from chillis to pomegranates, has been labelled an aphrodisiac.  Is there any truth behind these claims?  I had some fun finding out about some of the most well-known love foods, and hope you will too.

Oysters

Oysters

Oysters are one of the richest sources of zinc, vital for sperm health

A dozen oysters may be marketed as the ultimate food of love, but there’s barely any evidence that this is really the case.  Oysters are probably most useful as a source of zinc, which is one of the nutrients required for sperm quality.  I did track down an experiment where oyster extract was fed to male mice to see if it would make them more virile.  A low dose had a mild aphrodisiac effect, but it wore off after 3 hours.  So, if you start your romantic evening with oysters, don’t expect your man to keep going hours after dessert!

Chocolate

Heart shaped chocolate box

Is it your chocolate, or your chocolate box, which stimulates desire?

Chocolate as an aphrodisiac has a long and noble history.  The Aztec emperor Montezuma used to consume large quantities of cacao beans to allow him to perform mighty sexual acts.  The Victorians saw chocolates as an expression of courtship and love; a man giving chocolates to a woman was considered romantic, but a woman giving chocolates to a man was considered extremely risqué and inappropriate.  Unwrapping the elaborate layers of a Victorian chocolate box was said to resemble the unwrapping of the many layers of clothing which concealed a woman’s modesty.

Surprisingly, chocolate does not contain any substances which have a direct effect on libido.  Its most active compound is phenylethylamine, which helps boost mood, give you a burst of energy and increase stamina.  These pleasurable sensations could contribute to a great sexual experience, but chocolate eaters don’t experience increased arousal or sexual performance compared with non-eaters.

Whole and grated chocolate

Always buy the best quality chocolate you can – it will be worth it!

Women are more susceptible than men to chocolate’s effects, so, gents, you know what to buy your lady this year.  You’ll be in good company; In the States 58 million lbs of chocolate are sold on Valentine’s day.  But never buy cheap chocolate; it may be the mouth-feel of chocolate that is the most exciting in terms of stimulating pleasure.  This melt-in-the-mouth experience is best in expensive chocolate because of its higher cocoa butter content.  You have been warned.

Avocados

The Aztecs were clearly a sexy lot.  Our word ‘avocado’ derives from the Aztec word for an avocado tree ‘ahuacatl’ (testicle), named for the shape of its fruits, and because they tend to hang low in pairs.  When the Spanish conquered Spain, the Catholic priests banned the population from eating avocados because they were considered too provocative.

Sliced avocado

Too sexy by half?

I don’t think the priests need have worried.  Avocados are highly nutritious, containing a range of vitamins and minerals, for example potassium, magnesium and Vitamin E, which support overall health, including sexual health.  But there’s no objective evidence at all that avocados increase libido or fertility.

Maca

Maca powder

Magical Maca? Maybe…

Maca has been cultivated in the Andes and used in Peru as a medicine famed for its libido and fertility enhancing properties for over 2000 years.  Today it has gained huge popularity in the West, which has led to it being mass-produced with intensive farming methods.  Whatever the properties of traditional maca may or may not have been, it’s doubtful whether they are replicated in the product you can buy in health food shops today.  Studies of the aphrodisiac properties of maca are mostly small and poorly conducted, so it’s hard to draw any conclusions.  However, one small study suggests that using maca may reduce blood pressure and depression in older women, who could be more interested in bedroom fun as a result.

You generally buy maca in powder form.  It tastes sweet, so it would be great to use as part of a dessert without the need to involve sugar.  Your honey may love you more for that alone.

 Asparagus

Green asparagus stems

It’s all about that shape – ’bout that shape – no trouble.

Greek love poetry contains references to asparagus and the Kama Sutra recommends asparagus paste.  There’s a rumour that French bridegrooms used to eat three meals of asparagus before their wedding night to keep them in the mood all night.

Asparagus probably gets its reputation from its shape – no need to say what it might remind you of.  But there’s very little evidence to uphold its reputation.  Asparagus is a source of B-vitamins, which are needed for the energy production cycle, and so might keep you alert for longer.  Asparagus extract may reduce feelings of depression, promote general speed and accuracy and enhance sleep quality, all of which might be useful if you’re planning a night of fun and games in the bedroom.

Why are Aphrodisicac Foods Popular?

Do you see a pattern emerging here?  It’s fun to talk about aphrodisiac foods, but there’s little biochemical reason for their popularity.  So, how might we account for their reputation?  Folklore certainly plays a part, but I think there’s more to it than that.  The aphrodisiac properties of food are not about what they contain, but about how it feels to eat them.  Consider the sensual mouth feel of chocolate; the satisfaction of crunching an asparagus spear (I suck mine, but perhaps we shouldn’t go there), or the silky texture of an avocado.  I think it is these factors, more than the chemical composition, which underpin the enduring reputation of the foods of love.

Chocolate lover

What should you feed your love on Valentine’s Day? Whatever (s)he loves best, of course!

The best thing you can do for your beloved this year is to serve them foods they really love to eat.  Maybe something that’s a treat, or rarely available to you.  If your partner usually does the cooking, do it yourself for a night, or order a meal from a private chef (I’d be happy to help).  Dim the lights, play some soothing music and make your other half feel special.  I can’t guarantee that any of this will lead to a night of untrammelled desire, but it will certainly make your partner feel cherished, which is what this time of year should be all about.

Would you like to try a dessert featuring some of these foods?  I’ll be posting one in my FREE Facebook group.  Head over here to join.

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