There’s an old saying that “food is love,” and this adage is often reinforced by bringing casseroles for the bereaved or ill, celebrating holiday meal traditions, and providing special dishes as reward and motivation. But what about the relationship between food and sex? Movies have produced a number of steamy scenes between eaters and their nutrition—there’s Meg Ryan’s deli scene in When Harry Met Sally, the big bear sandwich at the end of Bridesmaids, and who can forget the fun with food in 9 ½ Weeks? Legend even holds many foods to be aphrodisiacs. Here’s a list of a few foods that have some science behind their sexy claims.
Zinc has been linked to a healthy sex drive, and pine nuts have a high level. Mix them with basil, long considered an aphrodisiac and linked to improved circulation, and you get pesto. Not only are chickpeas high in zinc, but they are full of other goodness; priests were banned from eating them in medieval times.
The chemicals in these little hotties mimic the symptoms of arousal: sweat production, swollen lips, and an increase in heart rate.
Another food high in zinc, oysters have been found to contain two unusual amino acids (D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate) that trigger the production of sex hormones.
This vegetable is just full of folic acid, which is said to boost histamine production necessary for men and women to achieve orgasm.
Some foods just look sexy, though two of these show results that could benefit in the bedroom. The Aztecs called avocados “ahuacuatl” (“testical tree”) because of the way the fruit grew in pairs; they are high in folate, which can help with male sperm production. The banana is high in potassium and B vitamins, necessary for sex-hormone production. Figs just look sexy; for centuries, they have represented fertility and female genitalia in myths and legends.
Antioxidants play a role in overall better health, and they are also helpful when it comes to erectile dysfunction. These fruits are especially high in antioxidants.
“Spanish fly” has long been rumored to be an aphrodisiac. The substance is a concoction made by crushing dead, dried blister beetles in order to access a substance called cantharidin, which is secreted from the beetles’ leg joints when frightened. It’s actually highly toxic and has a horribly irritating effect on the male urinary tract, which causes itching and swelling of the genitalia that, in older times, was confused with arousal. It’s actually quite harmful to men’s health and has no effect whatsoever on women.
Saltpeter is potassium nitrate that, according to popular belief, acts to repress the male libido when ingested. Supposedly, it is added to food to suppress sexual urges, and rumors abound that saltpeter can be found served in meals in prison cafeterias and military mess halls. Nope: While potassium nitrate has been used medically over the years for a number of different purposes, it’s ineffective as an anaphrodisiac and can even be toxic in high doses. afm