[garlic]Close your eyes and think about foods that set the mood for a steamy evening. Chocolate covered strawberries, whipped cream, and bunches of grapes probably come to mind, but what about orchid bulbs, garlic, snails, and pistachios? The libido boosters of our ancestors might seem far less appetizing, but the ancient Greeks may have been on to something – whether or not there is scientific evidence to back it up. \”If you believe that eating certain foods makes you feel sexy, then eating those foods is stimulating,\” said certified sexologist Andrew Barclay. \”It\’s not what you eat, though, it\’s what you think.\”
Students have mixed feelings about eating foods to get them excited. \”Foods that make you feel happy can definitely help in the bedroom,\” said business administration sophomore Colby Miller. But others are skeptical. \”It\’s all mental,\” said international relations sophomore Mark Bassily. \”I don\’t buy into any of that crap.\”
The effects of aphrodisiacs may vary from person to person or culture to culture. Some of the things we eat every day are considered powerful aphrodisiacs, even if we\’re unaware of their potential. Certain foods used frequently in cooking certainly seem to lack sex appeal – such as garlic, as nobody wants to kiss someone with garlic breath – but in other cultures, they are thought to satisfy physical appetite while stirring sexual appetite.
More than nourishing and sexually pleasing after ingested, some aphrodisiacs are simply visually stimulating. For example, a banana resembles male genitals, while an oyster may represent female genitalia, and both foods are thought to be aphrodisiacs. Additionally, certain textures add erotic pleasures. Foods with smooth, melt-in-your-mouth textures including chocolate and avocados are said to heighten sexual stimulation.
Science and sexuality
While most aphrodisiacs are attributed to myth and legend, some are backed by scientific research. Scientists have discovered that some foods with strong aromas increase the flow of blood to the genitals. Additionally, spicy foods cause an increase in heart rate and sweating similar to bodily activities during sex. According to most healthcare professionals, aphrodisiacs simply have a placebo effect, but vitamins and minerals in some foods may be the cause for a libido lift. Oysters, a classic aphrodisiac, contain zinc, which raises sperm and testosterone levels, making men frisky. Eggs, symbolic of fertility, contain B vitamins that balance hormones and relieve stress, which could mean more booty calls. Asparagus, known as an aphrodisiac mainly because of its shape, is high in folic acid, which increases the production of histamines needed to orgasm.
Say what?
Many of the aphrodisiacs thought to be the most powerful libido stimulants may not be lying around the typical college frat house or dorm. One such herb is Horny Goat Weed (the phrase \”horny as a goat\” comes from this plant), which was discovered by thousands of years ago by a Chinese goat feeder who noticed his goats\’ sexual appetite immensely increased when he fed them the plant. In Spain, Spanish fly, a type of beetle, has been used as an aphrodisiac for centuries. It is said to contain chemicals that cause women to have sensations in sensitive membranes, making them desire sex. \”I would stay away from Spanish fly because I have heard bad things about urethral irritants,\” said Barclay. \”Besides, having a burning sensation when you pee is yucky.\” The bark of the African yohimbe tree has been known for treating impotence long before Viagra hit the market. It was used for centuries in West Africa as a tea to increase fertility. \”Yohimbine is really the only known aphrodisiac,\” said Barclay. \”The reasons behind the sexual stimulation are not clear. It does appear to increase blood flow to the pelvis and provide mild irritation of the urethra.\”
Splurge on saffron
[chocolate]Some fancy foods are also considered to have a positive effect on sex drive. Saffron, the most expensive spice in the world, contains picrocrocin, a chemical that makes private parts more sensitive. Ancient Greeks and Romans considered truffles (the fungus, not the chocolates) to be a turn on, but they cost over $350 per pound. The rare and fragrant aphrodisiac\’s musky smell resembles that of chemical hormones in male pigs. Foie gras, another luxurious food (which seems less luxurious knowing that it is made by force-feeding a goose for several months without allowing it to exercise, then removing its liver, which is then soaked overnight in wine or milk and then baked), is said to put consumers in a sexy mood with its high status and buttery texture. How many people are really willing to splurge for sex drive? \”I wouldn\’t spend a lot of money on aphrodisiacs because there are cheap alternatives,\” said finance junior Patrick Burgess. \”Cheap chocolates would work just as well as expensive ones.\” Poor college students do not despair; these are just a few aphrodisiacs that happen to be expensive. There are still multiple others that may cost as little as a box of Easy Mac.
Simple pleasures
So what can you find in your own home to increase sex drive (as if college students really need to worry about that)? Coffee may be more than just the beverage that wakes you up for class; it may also stimulate the mind and body for a long night of passionate lovemaking (and if that is not an option, it does still help you stay awake to study for finals…if you can concentrate). Honey is another inexpensive treat that may increase sex drive. It was believed to be the nectar of Aphrodite, Greek goddess of love, and ancient Egyptians used it to cure impotence. Chocolate is commonly thought to be an aphrodisiac; whether it is in the form of cake or mousse, there is something sexy and romantic about it. Aztecs believed that chocolate, with its mood enhancing chemical complex, made women lose their inhibitions and men become more energized. Cinnamon, which creates heat within the body, gets its aphrodisiac status from its sensual smell and savory taste. Cinnamon oil has been rumored to produce stimulation when rubbed on and around genitals. These inexpensive, easy-to-find ingredients can spice up foods, leading to more spice in the bedroom.
Stereotypical mood-setters
Movies, romantic novels and magazines have shown us which foods are sexy, but let\’s face it – baths in a tub of champagne and bikinis made of whipped cream are not typical in everyday life. Some household aphrodisiacs, however, barely seem appealing in the bedroom. For instance, mustard was considered an aphrodisiac by early Europeans because it causes a rise in adrenaline, similar to a sexual adrenaline rush. Celery, thought to be an aphrodisiac since the Middle Ages, contains nutrients that stimulate the release of sexual hormones. Another aphrodisiac that may be on your spice rack is basil, which supposedly increases fertility. Cultures from India to Italy regard this herb as a symbol of love. Who knew you might have so many arousing foods in the kitchen?
Sex busters
Everything on earth has an opposite, and aphrodisiacs are no exception. Anaphrodisiacs are foods that supposedly decrease sexual energy. While this list is much shorter than the list of aphrodisiacs, anaphrodisiacs seem far less obvious. Ancient mythology tells lovers to stay away from lentil, dill, watercress, water lily, and lettuce (maybe moms have alternative motives in telling you to eat your greens).
[booze]Maybe other foods are big turn-offs, too. \”Anything that doesn\’t taste good to you won\’t turn you on,\” said journalism junior Brittany Ghiroli. And, alcohol could be an obvious inhibitor. \”Too much alcohol interferes with sexual enjoyment,\” said Barclay. \”It keeps guys from getting hard, and unless you like having sex with a corpse, it\’s no fun for women, either.\” So unless necrophilia is appealing, keep the booze to a minimum.
Simply irresistible
Now that you know how aphrodisiacs work physically and psychologically, you might find yourself looking at things like cinnamon and basil a bit differently. Whether you feel like sticking to a common aphrodisiac (chocolate), trying something on the expensive side (caviar), getting some exotic herb (Horny Goat Weed) or all of the above, the practice of using aphrodisiacs is ancient, so thank your ancestors for discovering ways to spice up the bedroom.

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