One part magic, one part myth, aphrodisiacs may get a lot of talk, but that doesn't mean they guarantee a lot of action.
Aphrodisiacs – foods that increase sexual desire and satisfaction – have understandably been a coveted item for thousands of years. But many of the original erotic edibles were nothing more than lustful legends. Stoked by the lure of foods that were just “new” or “exotic” to certain regions of the world, or likening shapely produce to purported reproductive benefits, most cultures got the idea of aphrodisiacs very wrong over the years. Potatoes, for example, were considered an aphrodisiac in Europe soon after they were introduced in the 16th century. And phallic vegetables like carrots or seed-filled fruits like pomegranates were deemed fertility enhancers as little as just a few hundred years ago.
Now, we have a bit more research at our hands to discern the legitimate aphrodisiacs from the lore. (Spoiler alert: chocolate and oysters don't make the cut.) In fact, the most studied and confirmed aphrodisiacs are primarily little-known herbs and plants, but there are still a few that you can easily add to your food, or at least your supplement cabinet. So, without further ado, here are some foods that really can help put you in the mood:
In its native region of Peru, maca has long been used to enhance fertility, increase sexual arousal, and balance hormones. As one of the most heavily researched aphrodisiacs in the world, studies have confirmed its real-deal abilities to augment all of the above for both men and women… and not to mention also increase overall strength and stamina as well.
Chinese medicine offers its fair share of aphrodisiac remedies, and ginseng is a key component. Studies have shown promise in ginseng's ability to aid erectile dysfunction, as well as magnify sexual arousal in women. Ginseng is also a great way to increase energy without caffeine, making it an attractive supplement all around.
Another herbal extract stemming from Chinese medicine, this plant can be considered an aphrodisiac for some people, though not all. Since ginko works directly with the brain and its use of the neurotransmitter serotonin (which is, in part, responsible for sexual desire), those that have any kind of a serotonin deficiency will notice a marked improvement in how they feel. Ginko is also an anti-depressant, putting you in a good mood on every level.
No, it's not just muesli that's safe – unfortunately your favorite overnight oats won't help your bedroom activities (although they may be nice to have on hand the morning after?). Rather, safed musli is an long-revered Indian herb that has marked testosterone-like effects, helping with erectile disfunction and increasing sexual vigor and arousal. Studies have shown several times over impressive results in libedo enhancement, supporting all of safed musli's folklore fame.
Remember, there's a lot more to lighting up the internal fire than just these true aphrodisiacs. Choosing to pepper your menu with finger foods or creamy sauces and dips; creating “mood lighting” through candles or dim lights; using music to enrich the audible environment; and scenting the air with natural sweet smells (vanilla, lavender, licorice, and cinnamon are some of the most attractive scents) can help entice and arouse. Excite your senses!