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Aphrodisiac Foods – The lowdown on the evidence

Posted on: 8th February 2014

Posted in: Healthy Eating, Special occasion nutrition

As Valentines Day is fast approaching, I thought a post exploring aphrodisiac foods was in order! Cliche foods like oysters, chocolate, wine and chillies are often cited as having special ‘aphrodisiac powers’. However is there really such a thing as an ‘aphrodisiac food’?

Well I’ll relieve you from the suspense straight away – unfortunately there are no specific aphrodisiacs found in food. However there is some good news – since an aphrodisiac is simply an exciter, any food can be an aphrodisiac, meaning you can tailor dishes to your particular taste.

Here is the lowdown on the evidence on some commonly accepted ‘aphrodisiac’ foods:

Chocolate – owes its ‘aphrodisiac’ properties to the fact that it contains the chemical stimulant ‘phenylethylamine’, which causes a hormone rush. However, you would need to eat a large amount of chocolate to elicit any effect – an amount of chocolate that would not be great for the waistline or your sugar intake! It also contains some caffeine, known to increase alertness, although a 50g bar of milk chocolate only contains a quarter of the caffeine found in a cup of instant coffee.

Cheese – contains serotonin and the chemical ‘phenylethylamine’ in higher amounts than chocolate (cheese is ten times higher in phenylethylamine than chocolate). Again however, you would need a large amount of cheese to elicit an effect – certainly much higher than the recommended 30g matchbox-sized portion.

Red Wine – contains alcohol which relaxes you quicker and may get you ‘in the mood’. Red wine also contains ‘resveratrol’, an antioxidant which helps improve blood flow and circulation. However, most studies showing an effect on blood flow to the reproductive system have been done on animals involving the equivalent of 60 litres a day – that’s a massive 85 bottles of wine!

Foods high in omega-3 fatty acids – foods like salmon, linseeds, walnuts and avocados contain the essential omega-3 fatty acids, which are needed for healthy sex hormone production. Eating one portion of oily fish a week can improve your overall health

Ginger – claimed to have many different aphrodisiac effects, but there is insufficient evidence for this

Phallic shaped foods – owing to their shape, foods like bananas, chillies, cucumber and courgettes are often considered aphrodisiacs. Other foods like oysters can resemble female genitalia, so may be considered an aphrodisiac for this reason.

The key

The key to food and love is to eat a healthy balanced diet – low in sugar, salt and saturated fat and to maintain a healthy weight. Keeping physically active is also really important – you’re more likely to be interested in sex, have good energy levels, and not be too tired.

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