Sex sells and a google search for foods that boost your sex drive, enhance the libido, or increase sexual performance yields over 1 million results! Where does one begin and what information should we try or toss? Instead of picking up the latest magazine I perused a handful of those 1 million results, searched for studies published in actual journals and then consulted reputable sites such as MayoClinic.com and PubMed.
What did I find? Not much. According to sexual health expert answers at MayoClinic.com, “…research has shown them [certain foods and supplements] to be largely ineffective at producing a sexual response in either men or women.”
DiscoveryHealth states that according to the FDA, “…aphrodisiacs have no scientific basis and are simply myth. While this may be true, many people swear by the effects of certain foods, herbs or minerals.”
So what is it that prompted certain foods to be classified as aphrodisiacs? Is there anything in food that would give claim to boosting, enhancing and jump starting our sexual engines?
Even though science has yet to prove that certain foods positively effect our libidos, eating the foods most articles suggest are actually healthy for the diet! They contain important minerals and vitamins needed by our body. And some of those minerals and vitamins are vital for our sex hormones.
A classic aphrodisiac, oysters are noted because of their high levels of zinc. Zinc is a mineral needed by our body in trace amounts. All of our cells contain zinc but it is mostly concentrated in our muscles and bones. Zinc is an important helper for many cellular processes such as gene expression and immune function. It affects thyroid hormone function and is essential for taste perception, fetal development, and wound healing…just to name a few!
Sexually, zinc is essential for sperm production and is important for sexual development.
Pacific raw oysters provide 14 mg per 3 ounce serving. Other sources of zinc include broccoli (1/2 cup cooked), plain yogurt (1 cup low fat), and lean sirloin steak (3 oz, broiled).
Who doesn’t love chocolate? Dark chocolate has many healthy benefits, but it is the phenylethylamine (PEA) that we’re led to believe creates euphoric loving feelings. And because chocolate (and red wine) have relatively high amounts of PEA it is believed to cause those feel good feelings.
Chocolate also contains serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical that is synthesized from an amino acid via vitamin B6. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that helps control appetite, sleep and sensory perception. Vitamin B6 is important for our immune system, cognition, and helps to make red blood cells.
Sources of Vitamin B6 include broccoli (1/2 cup cooked), banana (1 medium raw), and plain yogurt (1 cup low fat).
The aroma of almonds is thought to evoke passion. However, it is the essential fatty acids that almonds provide which are important for hormone production.
Essential means anything the body cannot make and, therefore, must get it from the diet. The two essential fatty acids we need are Omega-6 and Omega-3.
Sources of essential fatty acids include vegetable oils, nuts and fatty fish such as salmon.
If believing certain foods are aphrodisiacs helps build a healthy and varied diet — then great! Eating a balanced diet is good for the body which hopefully puts us in the mood anytime!