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10 Edible Aphrodisiacs and the Science Behind Them

by David Johnson

The first association between sex and food is traced from folklore, myths, and superstition. The connection is not far-fetched since a man feels pleasure from the two. Certain herbs and fruits earned their aphrodisiac quality in legends due to their characteristics like colors, shapes, and flavor. Today, science can attest to the effect that some of these foods have—their medicinal and nutritional value being subjected under thorough and multiple tests. However, most foods that have been dubbed as aphrodisiacs do not yet receive approval from science due to the lack of studies. Despite that, some people still believe in the sexual enhancing power that these foods provide—almost akin to a placebo effect. Below are 10 aphrodisiacs you can try, and see, for yourself.

1. Pomegranate

10 Edible Aphrodisiacs and the Science Behind Them

There are mythological sources hinting that pomegranate was the forbidden fruit in the Bible instead of an apple. Bridging this to Greek mythology, it was said that Aphrodite, from which the term aphrodisiac is derived, planted the very first pomegranate tree. Furthermore, this fruit has been linked to fertility due to its countless seeds. In old literary pieces, pomegranate was even deemed as a romantic symbol.

In the field of modern science, a 2011 study from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh revealed that pomegranate causes cortisol levels to drop which consequently increases the testosterone levels in men and women. Drinking pomegranate juice daily may be effective in providing an extra boost of libido. But be warned, a brand called Pomegreat funded the said study. Take that one with a great of salt.

2. Asparagus

Cultures across continents claim asparagus as an aphrodisiac. The ancient Greeks constantly mention this vegetable in their love poetry. The Kama Sutra text recommended consuming the paste form of asparagus. As for the French, there was an old rumor that dining on three asparagus meals was a custom the day before a wedding. French men of that era wanted to impress their wives with their overflowing sexual drive. This phallic-shaped vegetable is rich in Vitamin E, calcium, and potassium—all of which are beneficial to the kidneys and the urinary tract. Asparagus also neutralizes excess ammonia with its aspartic acid content, in which ammonia is responsible for low libido and poor sexual performance.

3. Red beets

This distinctly red crop was once believed by the Romans to enhance feelings of arousal and desire. In Italy, Pompeii brothels, especially the Lupanare brothel, were famous for displaying fresco paintings of beets all over the building. Even Aphrodite wanted to boost her charisma and consumed beets. The scientific explanation behind their aphrodisiac properties is that it contains tryptophan, betaine, and boron. Whereas both tryptophan and betaine promote the sensation of well-being, boron on the other hand is a trace mineral responsible for that instant surge of sex hormones.

4. Coffee

Who knows that the stimulant effect of caffeine is not the only weapon it wields? Even the mere aroma of a delicious brewed coffee can be a major turn-on for some people, according to a study from the Mindlab International Laboratory in the UK. Its caffeine content speeds up the nervous system, thereby promoting blood flow. Meanwhile, the alkaloids are in charge of providing an extra boost of stamina during physical and sexual performance. Remember to be cautious of certain coffee brands that are specifically advertised for their sex-enhancing benefits.

5. Strawberries

10 Edible Aphrodisiacs and the Science Behind Them

Given its distinct heart shape, it is no surprise that strawberries were once the symbol of Venus, the Roman counterpart of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. As for the ancient Greeks, red foods were once believed to provide supernatural powers to whoever will eat them—hence, it was once prohibited from eating them. Recent studies have slowly unlocked the rather mystical qualities of these berries. The anti-inflammatory property of strawberries is because of their rich antioxidant and phytochemical content. Share a meal with your significant other and dine on some fresh strawberries or desserts!

6. Honey

Honey being a natural sweetener may be partly the reason why it has been long regarded as an aphrodisiac. Its prominence in romantic affairs stemmed from an ancient practice where newlyweds drink a fermented honey beverage called mead. One scientific explanation for this is that honey has boron and nitric oxide.  The first stabilizes hormones while the other is triggered during sexual stimulation. Certain cultures have honey as the symbol of fertility and procreation.

7. Artichokes

The origin of artichokes in Greek mythology is a fascinating tale—Zeus turned a young woman who rejected him into a prickly thistle. As an aphrodisiac, the early claims of artichokes’ sexual enhancing properties derived from folklore. Henry II married a woman named Catherine Medici, who gained prominence as a food and romance enthusiast, was believed to have taken artichokes with her to France. Being a rich source of antioxidants, you can never go wrong with incorporating artichokes in your meals!

8. Avocado

In ancient Aztec society, avocado has been given the name ahucatl which means testicles. Judging by the Aztec name origin and the physical characteristic of the fruit, the Aztecs were on to something since they also credited the sex-enhancing properties of avocado. One Aztec custom even involved forbidding virgin women from leaving their homes during the ahucatl harvest season. Modern science points that multiple health benefits in avocados are attributed to Vitamin E—anti-aging and anti-inflammatory are some of them.

9. Figs

The symbolism of figs is oddly self-contradictory—fertility for its numerous seeds while modesty for the leaves. The leaves are somehow fitting because the biblical characters Adam and Eve have utilized these for clothing. Historical and folklore sources point out that the rather erogenous shape of fig is the main factor for its relation to sexual matters. Apart from the popularity of figs being Cleopatra’s most preferred fruit, ancient Greeks even had a customary belief wherein harvesting figs prompted copulatory ceremonies. Today, numerous scientific pieces of evidence reveal that figs contain antioxidants, flavonoids, fiber, and potassium. Maybe some myths have a certain degree of truth in them.

10. Chocolate

Chocolates, along with flowers, have been a customary token of romantic interest during Valentine’s Day. Made from cacao beans, even the name cacao translates to “food of the gods”. In the Mayan and Aztec civilizations, such beans were once used as a form of currency. While the Mayans traded beans for a brothel service, the Aztec emperor was believed to consume 50 cups of cacao for the sexual satisfaction of his wives. Scientists attributed these aphrodisiac qualities to phenethylamine, a stimulant associated with love, and tryptophan, an amino acid that assists in producing serotonin.

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