Love makes the world go 'round or so they say, so it should come as no surprise that history is riddled with legends, tales and studies regarding the use of aphrodisiacs to help love along. These foods are said to arouse or excite through ingestion or by smell. Scientific tests have proven that some aromas can have a greater effect on the body than actually eating the food. Here are some common foods of love used throughout the ages.
Alcohol lowers inhibitions and increases confidence. Over-indulgence has a sedative effect that's not exactly conducive to a romantic tryst, but alcohol nonetheless enjoys a reputation as being one of the top 10 aphrodisiacs when consumed in moderation. Champagne, in particular, is viewed as the "drink of love" because it causes a warm glow in the body.
Three courses of asparagus were traditionally served to 19th-century bridegrooms due to the vegetable's reputed aphrodisiac powers. You can thank its high Vitamin E content, which spikes sex hormones in both men and women.
Even aside from their shape, bananas have a creamy, lush texture and they're full of the enzyme bromelain, which some studies indicate enhances male performance.
Caviar is high in zinc, which stimulates the production of testosterone and maintains male functionality. This processed, salty sturgeon roe also promotes long life, so you should have plenty of time to enjoy its aphrodisiac effects.
Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, a stimulant that occurs naturally in the brain when people fall in love. It also offers a healthy dose of tryptophan, which helps the brain produce serotonin, a chemical that is closely associated with sexual arousal.
Seasonal crops of figs were used by ancient Greeks in celebrations that involved a frenzied copulation ritual.
Although its name means "man root," the jury is still out as to whether ginseng is actually an aphrodisiac for humans. It's said to increase desire for physical contact, but this has so far only been proved in studies involving animals. One can expect the experiments resulted in some happy lab rats, however.
As far as stimulating scents go, perfumes made of natural foodstuffs like almond, vanilla and other herbs and spices act as pheromones to communicate emotions by smell.
Pufferfish are considered both a delicacy and an aphrodisiac in Japan, but mostly by death-defying daredevils. The tiniest taste of this fish is deadly if its poisonous gland is not properly removed. This flirt with death is said to give a sexual thrill, but it's hard to recommend it.
Some oysters are able to repeatedly change their sex from male to female and back again, giving rise to claims that eating oysters lets one experience both the masculine and feminine sides of love. Aside from this folklore, they have a high zinc content. Low zinc levels can result in decreased sexual response and even sperm quality.
Go ahead and pile them on your loved one's salad. Egyptian pharaohs swore by the aphrodisiac properties of these little red root vegetables, but scientifically speaking, all we know for sure is that their spicy taste stimulates the palate.
A truffle a form of fungus, which admittedly sounds rather off-putting, but it's really just another type of mushroom. Truffles have long been thought to arouse both the palate and the body with their musky aroma — it's all in the smell. Legend has it that an ancient lover once gorged himself to death on Alba truffles during his wedding feast. If nothing else, your loved one will feel pampered because truffles are expensive and extremely hard to find.
More About Valentine's Foods and Valentine's Day Recipes
- Valentine History - Food
- Set the Mood for Your Romantic Meal
- Recipes for Love - Valentine's Day Recipes
- Cookbooks for Lovers