Aphrodisiac foods are always a fun topic of conversation. What food gets your motor running? What makes you crave a certain type of food?
The earliest known mention of an aphrodisiac comes from the Indian Vedas, which date back to approximately 1500 BCE. The ancient Hindu text mentions a number of things that it calls “aphrodisiacs,” including ginger, long pepper (a flowering herb), and bhang (a preparation made from leaves of the female cannabis plant). In ancient Rome, aphrodisiacs were prepared with foods such as oysters and deer meat. Other cultures have since invented their own aphrodisiacs, adding ingredients ranging from chocolate to jimson weed (Datura stramonium).
Until recently, modern science ignored the question of whether any food can actually stimulate sexual desire. However, over the past few decades, various researchers have looked into this subject in more detail. Some studies have found that foods containing certain compounds can increase blood flow to the genitalia, thus creating increased sexual arousal.
Cinnamon has been used for centuries as an aphrodisiac. It is said that Cleopatra would bathe in cinnamon and honey to keep her skin smooth, her body healthy and to make her smell good. In addition, cinnamon is also said to boost brain function, thus improving mental capabilities and making you more alert. This spice is delicious in both sweet and savory dishes, so it can be added to any meal.
Strawberries are another aphrodisiac ingredient that can be added to a variety of dishes for an extra boost of flavor. Strawberries are also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties and are known to help men with erectile dysfunction.
Pumpkin seeds are a natural aphrodisiac—and they’ve been used as one for years. In fact, 3,000 year-old erotic carvings in India depicted naked women adorned with pumpkin-seed necklaces, and the seeds are mentioned in the Kama Sutra. It’s no wonder that health nuts have been eating them for generations. They contain plenty of zinc, vitamin E, and magnesium—three nutrients that can help men stay healthy (zinc is particularly important to the reproductive system). Pumpkin seeds are also rich in phytosterols, which are linked to lowered cholesterol and reduced inflammation. Plus, they’re fun to eat.
Pistachios have long been used in the Middle East as a natural aphrodisiac, and there’s scientific evidence to back it up. They’re rich in B vitamins, which are essential to your body’s production of sex hormones. Previous studies have found that increasing your B vitamin intake can increase your level of arousal, while its functions in the production of serotonin can help you maintain a positive mood.
What makes pistachios so great is that they’re packed with phytosterols, which contain compounds that may lower cholesterol levels linked to heart disease and stroke. It also gets rid of excess estrogen from the body, a hormone that many women experience too much of and can suppress their sex drive. Finally, pistachios are high in fiber, which helps regulate blood sugar levels so you don’t get distracted by desires for sweets. They’re also low enough in calories to make them a great snack to keep you from getting too hungry. The combination of these factors makes for an overall healthy diet, strong cardiovascular system, and more energy for all-around life—and thus more energy for lovemaking.
There’s a reason why saffron is traditionally worn by brides in India, and it’s because of its aphrodisiac properties. In fact, saffron is one of the oldest known aphrodisiacs, used historically by both men and women all over the world to increase sexual desire and fertility. Saffrons’ high levels of stigmasterol (a type of phytochemical) have been shown to increase testosterone levels in men, while in women they can trigger ovulation and encourage uterine contractions during pregnancy. On top of that, saffron has been found to have some pretty impressive antioxidant properties, which are great for your overall wellness.
It’s no secret that dark chocolate is good for your health—that’s why a lot of people have a chocolate bar as part of their daily routine. But did you know that eating a little bit of chocolate can actually boost your sex drive?
In fact, the cocoa bean, from which chocolate is derived, has been called the “aphrodisiac bean” since ancient times. The Aztecs and Mayans used it in their sacred ceremonies and believed that its properties were capable of increasing virility and sexual desire in both men and women. The Spanish conquistadors discovered this tradition when they came to Central America.
Using chocolate in a more modern context, some studies have found evidence that suggests that drinking one or two cups of hot chocolate can increase blood flow to the genital area and increase arousal in both men and women. However, it should be noted that these are relatively small studies and only used oral consumption of hot chocolate. As with anything else, moderation is key.
They may look like a slimy mess, but oysters have been prized for their aphrodisiac qualities for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks thought eating them would help them “increase the strength and duration of their sexual intercourse.” In ancient Rome, oysters were considered the food of Venus, and eating them was said to inspire lust.
Although science hasn’t proven the aphrodisiac qualities of oysters, the idea is that they contain zinc, which is found in most body tissues and helps with cell division and sperm production. Oysters are also full of amino acids that are essential to making our hormones, like testosterone and estrogen.
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