Do Aphrodisiac Foods Really Work?

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Browse any blog or magazine even tangentially related to food this time of year and you’re likely to find an article touting the titillating effects of aphrodisiac foods—oysters, asparagus, bananas, chocolate, and cucumbers frequently make the list. But do these foods really produce, ahem, particular sensations and longings? Maybe not.

According to this article in the Washingtonian, foods may be mislabeled as aphrodisiacs because of their resemblance to male and female genitalia. But beyond that, there’s little scientific evidence they have any effect on sexual drive.

However, that doesn’t mean these foods are without benefits: besides quantifiable characteristics (oysters are extremely high in zinc, for example, while chocolate is known to contain “feel good” chemicals like phenylethylamine and serotonin), most of these aphrodisiac foods are just plain delicious! Perhaps a better approach is the one taken by Linda De Villers, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist in sex therapy and author of the book Simple Sexy Food, who recommends using them to create a mouth-watering meal. As she told Food Republic:

A beautifully prepared and served meal, complete with intimate connection, is a hard-to-resist seduction. I never claim any food is an automatic turn-on, any more than Viagra is an automatic turn-on. It takes opportunity and mindset, not just biology.

(Image: Laure Joliet)