I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Valentine’s Day than enjoying the sea air paired with some freshly caught oysters! This year it may feel slightly different due to COVID-19 restrictions and perhaps not quite so easy to escape the house. Nevertheless this Valentine’s at home can be just as enjoyable as the coast with take away services and local chefs vying to make it as special as it should be.
Historically foods considered to have aphrodisiac properties were either expensive or scarce. Foods such as foie gras, caviar and truffles or phallic vegetables such artichokes or asparagus have been known for their aphrodisiacs status since the 14th century but what exactly makes them so desirable and potent?
Oysters are considered to be at the top of the aphrodisiac list – they are a good source of Zinc which is required for testosterone production and sperm quality in men, but also plays a key role in maintaining women’s libido (boosting brain dopamine) – the feel good hormone! A good source of vitB12 found in oysters is also required to boost the secretion of histamine needed for orgasm in men!1.
100g of raw oysters provide us with 20% RDA of vitamin D to support healthy bones and minds.
These irregular shaped molluscs are a rich source of sustainable protein and minerals such as Iron, Zinc, Copper and Selenium. Selenium is required for antioxidant function and for the metabolism of thyroid hormones. It also helps to protect the thyroid from oxidative damage and supports the production of thyroid hormones and its conversion (such triiodothyronine known as T3 and thyroxine known as T4).
Asparagus – these phallic shaped veggies are believed to work on our visual senses giving it an aphrodisiac status. Asparagus is also rich in vitE which supports the stimulation of sex hormone production in both men and women. It is also a good source of vitamin B6 and folate which may increase arousal and orgasm.
Chocolate – not only delicious but also potent. Two chemicals found in chocolate contribute to its aphrodisiac properties. One is tryptophan a building block which takes part in the production of serotonin, a brain chemical contributing towards sexual arousal. The other phenylethylamine, known as the “love drug” which is released in the brain and functions like an amphetamine stimulant making people high on love. Phenylethylamine stimulates the release of neurotransmitters: dopamine and norepinephrine during attraction and infatuation. Chocolate contains L-arginine an amino-acid which has been linked to an increased sex drive in men. L-arginine takes part in production of nitric oxide which helps to relax and open blood vessels to allow the blood flow to the chambers of the penis necessary to achieve an erection2.
Liquorice root is thought to mimic oestrogen which may effect oestrogen and testosterone hormone levels required for normal sexual function and response. The oestrogen effects of liquorice are accredited to the existence of isoflavones a type of plant oestrogen (phytoestrogen) which acts similar to human oestrogen but with a weaker result. Having higher levels of oestrogen in the body can help to stimulate vaginal lubrication, enhance collagen levels and increase sexual desire3/4.
Whether aphrodisiac foods work on our senses more than on our biochemistry is still to be discovered. Keep your hormones in balance, stay healthy and enjoy some aphrodisiac foods this valentines to get you in the mood for the bedroom!