Food Aphrodisiacs: Do They Really Work?

22/02/2016 2:48 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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Oysters, chilli, chocolate and champagne. If you haven't heard already, these are just some of the foods credited with putting some 'va va voom' back in the bedroom. But do they actually work, or is it all a bunch of (non libido enhancing) baloney?

"There are a lot of foods that can help your sexual desire and increase your libido,' registered nutritionist and co-founder of TheHealthClinic.com.au, Pip Reed, told The Huffington Post Australia.

"What a lot of people don't realise is it's more about eating these foods regularly and on a consistent basis. There are actually very few foods that are going to have that ‘I want to rip your clothes off’ effect."

Dammit. So it seems you can't chug down a dozen oysters before a big date and necessarily expect red hot results.

But if you did want to look at longer-term benefits, Reed says there are some foods you should look at incorporating into your diet -- and yes, oysters make the list.

"The top foods are oysters, chocolate, probably some champagne in there, and then you go a little more specific," Reed said.

"Bananas, grapes, watermelon and nuts and seeds... these foods are associated with aphrodisiac properties, but to be honest that's more to do with the nutrients they have in abundance.

"Oysters, for example, are very high in zinc, and zinc is directly associated with boosting testosterone -- which both men and women need -- and having a bit more testosterone equals a higher sex drive."

Zinc-rich foods are also high on the list of accredited practising dietitian and founder of Seed & Kilter, Sanchia Parker.

"We know zinc-rich foods have a positive impact on our reproductive health, hence why oysters always seem to top the list of aphrodisiac foods," Parker told HuffPost Australia. "They contain about 10 times more zinc than any other food. Other sources of zinc are seafoods, meat, beans and nuts."

fancy oysters and champagne

Oysters are said to put you in the mood.

Increased blood flow also plays an important role in getting things going, which brings us to some of the more decadent items on your shopping list.

"Increased blood flow can allow oxygen and nutrients to travel more effectively around the body, thus influencing our libido," Parker said.

"What can affect blood flow? Resveratrol is an antioxidant that’s found in wine and dark chocolate, and it has a vasodilative effect which means it relaxes the blood vessels, allowing blood to flow more easily around the body. The key is just to keep it to one to two glasses of wine, as alcohol is a depressant, so many more than that and it might be a mood killer."

Both Reed and Parker agree it's also worthwhile looking at foods which might improve your mood and decrease elements of stress.

"Mood stimulating foods and anti-stress foods are always helpful, so for those, we would be looking at oily fishes with omega 3, and foods rich in vitamin E. One example is avocados, which actually used to be considered a testicular fruit, so there's that as well!" Reed said.

"A diet with enough carbohydrates is a must," Parker added. "Our body can’t produce serotonin (the hormone that puts us in a good mood) without them. So say goodbye to the low-carb diets and enjoy a date night with pasta and meatballs a la 'Lady and the Tramp'."

Now, while the term 'cruciferous vegetables' might not exactly get your heart racing, Reed says the unsexy name can actually have some pretty sexy qualities.

"Cruciferous vegetables include things like broccoli, cauliflower and brussel sprouts, and can assist in decreasing excessive estrogen in both females and males," Reed said. "All of these very really great hormone balancers.

"Another member of this group which has been getting a lot of attention lately is the Peruvian fruit maca, which you can buy in powder form."

Finally, though Reed states you're better off embracing these ingredients as part of your regular diet, she also says there are some quick-fixes you can try if you really want to give yourself a boost.

"Chocolate has been proven to improve the mood. It promotes blood flow, especially to the sexual organs, so that can make you feel a bit more randy," Reed said.

"Also foods like your chilli peppers. They contain the ingredient capsaicinm, which results in that feeling of hotness, the increase in metabolism, flushing and increased blood flow."

So there you have it. Bon appétit, lovers!

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