Aphrodisiac foods may or may not prove to turn up the Libido. But, hey, it can’t hurt to try

Ahh, Valentine’s Day. The holiday of love. Romance – it conjures up so many creative opportunities to say and show how much that special someone means to you.

History and literature are at no loss for the romantically inclined – reference to food, beliefs, and folklore teach us that the right tasty morsels will excite and arouse desire in our love interest.

We can all think of references to the amorous effects of oysters, red wine, and chocolate in popular movies and literature. In fact, all it took was one oyster for Casanova to seduce a lover in one of that character’s famed conquests. Or, for modern-day proof, check out this Haagen-Dez ad featuring Bradley Cooper.

Actually, if you search long enough, you’ll find a reference to just about every food as an aphrodisiac – which makes sense because the food is a pleasure-seeking activity and eating certain foods triggers some of the same endorphins and physical responses as sex. 

Throughout history, civilizations have honored and traded in specific foods native to their region and known to have arousing effects. In this Olga Petrenko article titled “17 Aphrodisiac Foods Used in Cultures Around the World“ published on backpackertravel.org, olive oil, garlic, and other Italian cuisine topped the list.

In Arabic cultures, dates are said to energize, revitalize, and are also thought to enhance a woman’s sexual appetite. Cacao, technically a seed that is the foundation of chocolate has a history that dates back 5,000 years to the ancient Mayan and Olmec civilizations. Rumor has it, ancient Aztec ruler Montezuma would drink 50 cups of chocolate before visiting his harem.

The ‘love chemical’ phenylethylamine is found in cacao – and is the same compound that releases dopamine into the brain during sexual intercourse.

See?! That piece of chocolate can literally put you in the “mood”!!

If you “like the spice”, there’s a good reason for that, too. Chili peppers were first cultivated in Central and South America and with the creation of international commerce, the spicy, potent love produce was soon shipped all around the world. It became significant in many cultures as a known aphrodisiac. (but do be careful after handling and preparing). We could also reference the creation of the spice roads that linked Europe, Africa, and Asia for centuries, as demand grew for aromatic plants and roots such as mandrake, ginseng, and cinnamon – just to name a few. 

For even more interesting facts and anecdotes, check out the blog article, “Love Potions: A Brief History of Aphrodisiacs” by Alexandra Malmed on vogue.com.

What is science and what is a myth?

Obviously, certain factors point to scientific links between food “chemicals” like in the effects with chocolate described above. In the case of spices, these substances create added blood-flow to the abdominal and pelvic regions, just like the areas of the body activated during sexual arousal.

In other instances, science tells us that the nutrients in certain foods “energize” the body, naturally, making us more interested in expending that energy and “ready” for action. But scientists also say there is not “indisputable” proof that food causes arousal. Some of it could be in our heads. There is also the possibility some foods have a reputation because their shape resembles genitalia, think, figs, avocados, oysters, bananas, and asparagus. All of which are on the arousing foods list.

So, here’s the thing, science or myth, fact or fiction, historically speaking or for the mere chance that maybe it’s true, it might just be worth trying a sexy Valentine’s meal for the love of your life.If nothing else, the time and effort you put into a thoughtful meal may turn out to be “sexy” enough, get creative. 

Click here for a Ferrero Rocher Cookie recipe on the O’Live A Little website, or try cooking something with a selection of ingredients found in this article.

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