For as long as humans have existed, there have been legends and lore about food and sexuality. Whether it's the shape or the taste or the chemicals inside, many people believe that certain foods can provide a sexual boost.
Nevertheless, there is little scientific evidence that garners proof of aphrodisiacs. But that hasn't stopped people from dreaming. Here are some of the top foods that are meant to get you in the mood.
--Oysters. Probably the most well-known of supposed aphrodisiacs, raw oysters first got their sexual reputation when Giacomo Casanova, an author and adventurer who became notorious in the 18th century because of his tenuous affairs with women, reportedly ate up to 60 raw oysters each day. The mollusks' look is similar to that of female genitalia, but they also contain a high amount of zinc, an essential mineral that controls levels of progesterone, which has an effect on a person's sex drive.
--Bananas. Besides their suggestive shape (wink, wink), bananas are chock-full of potassium and bromeliad enzyme, which are said to increase sex drive. Some scientists say they're simply a health food, though. The healthier and better you feel the likelier you're going to be in the mood for sex.
--Chocolate. Chocolate or sex? Chocolate or sex? Many people (especially women) tend to equate the two, but it may just be a chicken-and-egg scenario. Chocolate contains tryptophan, phenylethylamine and anandamide, compounds that trigger serotonin and dopamine, which are chemicals in the brain that are released when people fall in love and during orgasms. Maybe that's why Montezuma stocked up on cocoa beans as fuel for his romantic rendezvous. Legend has it that the Aztec emperor drank 50 goblets of chocolate each day to enhance his sexual stamina. Nevertheless, a 2006 study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine found no difference in sexual desire between women who ate chocolate regularly and those who did not.
--Garlic. Bad breath? Who cares? Many believe that garlic's lingering scent on one's breath will not deter anyone from his sexcapades. Garlic, native to central Asia, is filled with allicin, a compound that increases blood flow, and many say that even just the alluring scent of the root can get the juices flowing.
--Honey. We've all heard of the birds and the bees. When you combine all that buzzing, honey will reveal itself. The sticky sweet stuff is naturally created through pollination, and its chemicals have been shown to provide a natural energy boost, which may help with the libido. The nectar also contains boron, a chemical element that stimulates the production of estrogen in women and testosterone in men.
--Almonds. Alexandre Dumas, author of "The Three Musketeers" and "The Count of Monte Cristo," reportedly ate almond soup each night before meeting with his mistress. The smell of the healthful nuts (yes, any sort of sex pun that you can squeeze out of that phrase is intended) has been believed to arouse women, and they have been a symbol of fertility for thousands of years. With that belief in mind, the Romans used to shower newlyweds with almonds. And even today, the "five almonds" (a staple at Italian weddings) signify five wishes for the bride and groom: fertility, health, happiness, wealth and longevity.
--Avocados. Perhaps it's the rich, smooth texture of avocados that gave this fruit its sexy reputation during ancient times. The Aztecs and Maya were supposedly the first to explore the effects that avocados have on a person's libido. Known to the Aztecs as "the fruit of the kings," it was believed that it has mystical powers and positive influences on fertility. In one Aztec language, an avocado tree was even called ahuacatl, or testicle tree. Avocados tend to grow low and in pairs, hence the, ahem, name.
No matter the food, though, scientists have yet to discover any hard evidence that these foods have earned their title of aphrodisiacs. But hey, even if it is all in your head, there's no harm in that. Whether there is hard evidence or simply a placebo effect, the results come out the same.