Whether your Valentine's Day plans include a romantic night out on the town or an intimate dinner at home, you'll definitely want to be mindful of what's on the menu—especially if you're expecting to get some action.
The list of rumored arousal-inducing foods is long, but there more than a few items on that list that aren't as potent as we've been led to believe. Aphrodisiac properties—both rumored and real—have a range of origins: the chemical and biological benefits of eating the food, the shape of the food, and the way you eat it. The foods on our list reflect a combination of those origins.
This one is pretty obvious for Valentine's Day. After all, the U.S. is slated to buy up to $1.8 billion worth of candy to celebrate, according to the National Retail Federation. If you want to make it a bit more sexy than half-eaten pralines and nougat discarded in heart-shaped cardboard, consider capping off your meal with chocolate fondue. You can even dip some of the fruits that will appear later on this list.
Oysters (and Other Shellfish)
You've likely heard of this one, too. While the act of eating oysters might be sexier than the slimy meat itself, there's some merit to this one. Oysters and other shellfish like clams, crabs, mussels, and lobster, are high in zinc, which is known to set off a surge of sex hormones.
More specifically, oysters "contain two amino acids, D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate, that have been found to increase sex hormones in men and women," according to Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, M.D., of What Doctors Eat.
If you're a green grape fan, you might want to make the switch to red. The darker grape variety contains a concentration of boron, which stimulates the production of both testosterone and estrogen, which can help you get in the mood faster. So that's why ancient royals were always being fed grapes. Noted.
While there's at least one strange side effect to eating this phallic-shaped veggie, that doesn't (or shouldn't) have any bearing on its benefits—particularly that it gives your body a boost of histamines, which can promote more intense orgasms. Yum.
In addition to the those sex-specific benefits, asparagus is also a source of vitamins A and C, which improve the look of skin and hair. Maybe you should start munching on this a bit before Valentine's Day so you can look radiant on your date.
This fruit didn't just make the list because it lends itself to a suggestive eating experience, true as that may be. Bananas are high in bromelain, which aids the production of testosterone. That doesn't just affect the guys, though. "Studies show that women with higher sex drives have higher testosterone," according to The Nutrition Twins, Lyssie Lakatos and Tammy Lakatos Shames. Chocolate covered bananas? Banana bread with chocolate sauce? The applications are endless.
This would be an expensive method for heating things up in the bedroom, but desperate times call for pricey measures. Saffron is one of the top boosters of sex drive and performance. Some of your ancient faves knew all about the benefits of this premium spice way back when: allegedly, Cleopatra bathed in it before meeting her lovers, and the Romans would sprinkle it on newlyweds' beds.
It seems the Romans were always in search of the best way to get in the mood. They were big fans of beets and beet juice—they believed these roots promoted "amorous feelings," according to a report by PBS. If you'd rather rely on science, you'll be happy to know beets are high in boron, which we already know boosts the production of sex hormones.
It turns out the Spice Girls were on to something then they sang "spice up your life." Although you might not think of spicy food as particularly sexy, these peppers contain capsaicin, which creates a tingling sensation on your tongue and releases epinephrine and endorphins, resulting in a natural high. Chop a few of these up and mix into a bowl of guac for a Tex-Mex-inspired Valentine's Day celebration.
If you're not into spicing things up in the kitchen, try sweetening the deal for your partner with a bit of honey. It contains boron (the same property the landed grapes and beets on this list), which boosts natural energy and regulates testosterone and estrogen levels.
Plus, the word "honeymoon" originated in the Scandinavian practice of drinking mead (fermented honey) during the first month of the marriage to increase the likelihood of conception. There are other ways to increase your odds, but this one sure is sweet.
Your favorite beverage already goes along with the color scheme of Valentine's Day—and science says it can make your night more interesting. A study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2009 found that moderate regular intake of red wine resulted in increased "sexual desire, lubrication, and overall sexual function" in women. For men, it's a more general impact: increased heart health (which has been proven too be a result of consistent moderate red wine intake) is always a good thing for male sexual health and performance.
Another food that falls within the Valentine's Day color scheme, pomegranate's history as an aphrodisiac goes way back. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, was credited with planting the first ever pomegranate tree. A 2011 study found that pomegranates lower cortisol levels, which can signal increased testosterone levels in men and women. Admittedly, the study was partly funded by a pomegranate juice company, but we'll still pop these sweet seeds just in case.
While the leaves of this summer fruit are associated with modesty, the fruit itself has often been associated with sexuality. It contains iron and potassium—known to boost sexual performance—as well as a great deal of fiber. And according to Amy Reiley, author of Eat Something Sexy, "fiber is key to helping you feel and look like your most sensual self." Good to know.