According to Jennifer Berman, MD, Director of the Berman Women's Wellness Center in Beverly Hills, California, there's a growing body of evidence that some of the vitamins and components in foods can enhance sexual function and sexual experience.
Here are some of the food ingredients that have been major players in aphrodisiac history and lore-- and also have modern-day science to help back up their claims.
Almonds have long been believed to increase passion, act as a sexual stimulant, and aid with fertility. Like asparagus, almonds are nutrient-dense and rich in several trace minerals that are important for sexual health and reproduction, such as zinc, selenium, and vitamin E. "Zinc helps enhance libido and sexual desire," says Dr. Berman. Scientists cannot really understand the mechanisms behind it, but they know it works.
The Aztecs referred to avocados as, ahem, testicles, because of their physical shape. But the scientific reason why avocados make sense as an aphrodisiac is that they are rich in unsaturated fats and low in saturated fat, making them good for your heart and your arteries. Anything that keeps the heart beating strong helps keep blood flowing to all the right places; in fact, men with underlying heart disease are twice as likely to suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED). Health.com: 10 Reasons you're not having sex
The color red is known to help stoke the fire: A 2008 study found that men find women sexier if they're wearing red, as opposed to "cool" colors such as blue or green. Strawberries are also an excellent source of folic acid, a B vitamin that helps ward off birth defects in women and, according to a University of California, Berkley study, may be tied to high sperm counts in men. This Valentine's Day, try making dark chocolate-dipped strawberries.
This Valentine's Day favorite is full of libido-boosting methylzanthines.
Despite their slippery and slimy texture, oysters may be the most well-known aphrodisiac. They're also one of the best sources of libido-boosting zinc. But other types of seafood can also act as aphrodisiacs. Oily fish-- like wild salmon and herring-- contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for a healthy heart.
Any member of this tropical fruit family is super-rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, and folic acid -- all of which are essential for men's reproductive health. Enjoy a romantic salad that incorporates citrus, like pink grapefruit or mandarin oranges, or use a dressing made with lemon and lime.
Arugula has been heralded as an arousal aid since the first century. Today, research reveals that the trace minerals and antioxidants packed into dark, leafy greens are essential for our sexual health because they help block absorption of some of the environmental contaminants thought to negatively impacting our libido.
These funny-shaped fruits have a long history of being a fertility booster, and they make an excellent aphrodisiac because they are packed with both soluble and insoluble fiber, which is important for heart health. Plus, high-fiber foods help fill you up, not out, so it's easier to achieve that sexy bottom line -- or belly.
A drink or two can help you relax and help lower your inhibitions -- which can be a good thing if you're in a safe environment. And alcohol in moderation helps raise HDL cholesterol (the "good" kind) while reducing your chance of blood clots. If you want a nonalcoholic substitution with similar health benefits, try a deeply colored 100% fruit juice like pomegranate or Concord grape juice. Turkish researchers found that these antioxidant-packed juices can improve sperm quality and aid fertility.
This fruit helps with your overall health," says Dr. Berman, "so even if you're not producing new eggs, antioxidant-rich foods can help prevent deterioration."
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