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Seven aphrodisiacs that boost your libido

heart shaped bowls filled with aphrodisiac foods

If you’re looking to spice up your sex life, you may be wondering if there are any aphrodisiacs that actually work. The answer is, unfortunately, that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. However, there are several natural aphrodisiacs that have been shown to be effective in some people.

What are aphrodisiacs?

Aphrodisiacs, named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, are foods said to increase your sexual desire.

While no food has been scientifically proven to stimulate the human sex organs, eating certain foods can encourage desire in the body by making you think of sex.

Foods that are considered aphrodisiacs are those that arouse the love senses (sight, smell, taste and touch).

Certain foods have components that make you feel good when you’re eating them. Some enhance bodily sensations, for example, the capsaicin in chilli warms us up. Some fruits containing high levels of antioxidants, such as cherries, pomegranates and strawberries, are supposed to improve blood flow around the body. Other aphrodisiacs such as oysters, asparagus and figs simply resemble our more intimate body parts.

Some aphrodisiacs have more scientific evidence behind them than others. Ashley Sweet, a psychotherapist and clinical researcher who specialises in sex and pleasure, says many aphrodisiacs elicit a placebo effect. “In these cases, the aphrodisiacs work because the person using them believes that they’ll work,” she says.

Read: How sex and sexual desire change as we age

Here are a few of the most common aphrodisiacs. Be sure to check with your healthcare provider before giving these foods and herbs a try, especially if you’re taking medication.

1. Oysters

Oysters are perhaps the most well-known natural aphrodisiac, but unfortunately there is little evidence that they can independently spark erotic desire. Oysters, along with shellfish including clams, crabs and lobsters, are high in zinc, which is essential for testosterone production.

They also contain large amounts of the amino acid tyrosine, a nutrient included in the production of dopamine.

2. Chocolate

Chocolate is another food often said to have aphrodisiac properties. It is high in magnesium, which is known to boost energy levels, and is also a source of phenylethylamine, a chemical released when people fall in love.

Chocolate’s smooth texture in the mouth, together with the effects of cocoa’s serotonin-creating chemical, tryptophan, can certainly make you feel good.

Read: When is your partner turned on? Reading – and creating – the clues

3. Ginseng

Ginseng is a herb often used in Chinese medicine. It is said to improve energy and vitality, and is sometimes used as a natural aphrodisiac. There is some evidence that ginseng may help improve sexual function in men, but more research is needed to confirm this.

People generally tolerate ginseng well, but it may interfere with blood-thinning medications and the treatment of hormone-sensitive cancers.

In some cases, ginseng may also cause headaches, constipation, or minor stomach upset.

4. Horny goat weed

Epimedium grandiflorum received its more common name of horny goat weed after the discovery of its aphrodisiac properties. Allegedly, a Chinese goat herder noticed increased sexual activity in his herd after they ate the plant’s leaves.

Horny goat weed is another plant used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat sexual dysfunction. It is said to increase libido and sexual activity. Again, there is limited scientific evidence to support these claims, but some studies suggest it may help improve blood flow to the penis, which could improve erectile function.

5. Maca

Maca belongs to the same plant family as broccoli, radish and watercress. Traditionally used as an aphrodisiac, Maca is rich in fibre, calcium, iron and amino acids. It is nicknamed ‘the Peruvian Viagra’, as studies show it may boost libido in humans.

6. Nuts

Researchers from Spain have found that consuming 60 grams of nuts per day improves sexual function. The study was conducted on 83 individuals following a Western diet (poor in fruit and vegetables, and rich in animal fats).

The findings showed that adding walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds to an unhealthy Western diet can improve sexual desire and orgasm quality.

Read: How eating nuts improves sex

7. Saffron

Since such a small part of the saffron flower is used to make the spice, saffron is one of the most expensive spices by weight. It takes 75,000 saffron flowers to make one pound of saffron spice.

This popular spice is often used as an alternative remedy to help treat depression, reduce stress, and enhance mood. It is also potentially a powerful aphrodisiac.

One study observed that a group of men who took 30mg of saffron per day for four weeks experienced greater improvements in erectile function than men given a placebo.

So, when it comes to boosting sex drive, there are many things you can try. The way the food is served may also play a part in making the consumer feel sexy. Dinner eaten in soft, low light such as candlelight may evoke more feelings of excitement and desire.

The eating environment can also play a role, a clean and tidy room with no piles of clutter around to cause distraction can allow you to relax and enjoy the food and conversation.

What do you think? Do you believe aphrodisiacs work or is it all in the mind? Let us know in the comments section below.

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