What exactly is an aphrodisiac?
An aphrodisiac is defined as a drug or food that stimulates or intensifies sexual arousal.
This concept is based on an ancient old belief that certain foods held magical properties that could heighten sexual pleasure and improve sexual prowess.
The goddess of love
The word aphrodisiac is derived from the name ‘Aphrodite’ the ancient Greek goddess of love. The Greeks were very open to ways in which they could heighten sexual pleasure, increase stamina and improve performance.
Some of the foods they believed held such mystical properties were garlic, cheese, honey, leeks, mushrooms, onions and pomegranates which were known as ‘love apples.’ Figs were also believed to promote potency.
In the modern world, foods used to heighten sexual pleasure varies from culture to culture.
But how true is this?
Do foods really feed your sex drive?
Recent studies concluded that foods have no proven effect on sexual desire and have a mere placebo effect on libido. While this may be true, other research has shown that sex is very much in the mind.
So perhaps the mere thought and interaction with a food labelled as an aphrodisiac, could heighten sexual arousal?
So what are the most aphrodisiac foods?
Although foods haven’t been proven to stimulate sexual arousal on a physiological level, they may stimulate arousal mentally. A reason for this is because many foods have been sexualised; we naturally associate certain foods with sex.
Suggestive phallic foods may also influence sexual thoughts and desires, as well as sensual aromas.
The shape of these visually stimulating foods may implant very suggestive images and thoughts in our minds.
Foods most associated with the phallus are: Sausages, bananas, chillies, courgettes, cucumber, carrots, pickles, and ice lollies.
Did you know avocado is actually derived from a name meaning testicles?
The Aztecs named these fleshy fruits as ‘testicle trees’ for their obvious likeness in shape; this has led to the association of avocados as an aphrodisiac in the modern world.
Many studies have been conducted into what types of smells turn men and women on. The evidence for this is poor however there are certain aromas that tend to appeal to the opposite sex.
In general women tend to like: musky, earthy, liquorice and woody aromas whereas men prefer sweet vanilla notes, musk, and lavender, sandal wood and orange.
Aromas that attract both men and women are musky scents. So foods with aromas that entice both men and women would be: camembert, champagne, olives and figs.
Foods with a masculine musky aroma similar to that of men would translate to parsley, truffles, nuts, mint and anise. Women on the other hand have a likened scent to that of vanilla extract, citrus fruits, and lavender infusion.
What saucy combination of suggestive aromas could you cook up?
There are many foods we associate with sex. From the media, films to Nigella foods have become a common sexual theme.
Here are some common foods we associate with sex: Whipped cream, chocolate, Melons, coconuts, peaches, plumbs, strawberries, honey and syrup.
Need I say more?
Oysters are also commonly labelled as an aphrodisiac food. Physiologically speaking they may not have an instant effect on sexual arousal however they do contain high levels of zinc which is an important mineral involved in the production of testosterone and sperm.
Libido and serotonin
Serotonin is a neurotransmitter in the body which can increase our mood.
Serotonin is not known to directly increase libido on a chemical level however the foods we eat can certainly affect our mood which in turn may impact on sexual desire.
In particular, foods containing carbohydrates (sugars) may help to increase serotonin.
This is because carbohydrates are used by the body to make the essential amino acid Tryptophan more available to the brain.
Tryptophan then increases the feel good chemical serotonin. So if you eat foods containing carbohydrates or sugar (a product of carbohydrate) it may help to increase your mood.
If you feel good your likely to have a higher sex drive!
Chocolate is also known to increase mood not only because it contains sugar, but because the polyphenol Resveratrol (an antioxidant) is known to boost endorphins and serotonin in the brain.
Dark chocolate in particular contains higher levels of resveratrol due to its higher cocoa content.
Alcohol as an aphrodisiac?
Research has not paid much attention to alcohol as a sexual stimuli in men and women. Evidence is poor. However some research has shown that alcohol in small amounts subjectively increased libido.
It should be noted that alcohol is a depressant which acts on the central nervous system, therefore too much alcohol will inhibit the body’s physiological response to sex.
On the other hand alcohol tends to relax people in social situations therefore it may help some people to overcome sexual inhibitions and improve confidence.
Alcohol also dehydrates the body
Dehydration will decrease blood flow to the genitalia, which may inhibit sexual desire and also performance.
So alcohol scores an overall low as an aphrodisiac. However just a drop may be enough to relax you into the mood!
Also remember, it is recommended that men and women should not drink any more than 14 units a week and should have at least two alcohol free days a week.
Appeal to your lover’s senses with a combination of visually stimulating foods, Sweet or musky aromas and sexually suggestive foods and boost libido with feel good foods that increase serotonin.
Sex is also in the mind so use food as a tool, relax into the mood and allow your imagination to run wild!
Connect with Expert Susan Anderson