Passion on a plate: food to turn you on

Dripping, oozing, slurping, swallowing – all things to do with food, right? But if your mind wandered a little bit, that’s probably because some foods do send sexy signals to the brain.

BY THE ROAM TEAM 8 MIN READ

WORDS TO KNOW
Libido

is someone's overall desire for anything sexual, and it can be affected by biological, psychological and social factors.

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The lowdown on aphrodisiacs

Aphrodisiacs are and aren't real. No food has been proven to actually increase libido, or prolong sex, or stimulate the sex organs. However, the foods that are typically associated with sexual desire are the ones that make us feel the most by activating the senses – sight, taste, touch, and smell.

Mind over matter is a big deal, and some culinary experiences simply suggest sex. In case you’re planning to cook your way to someone’s heart, let’s build a seductive dinner party menu backed by research.

Starter: beetroot and pomegranate salad

…On a bed of lemony rocket and feta – your mouth will be watering (which is pretty much the point).

Aphrodite – the goddess known for being beautiful and amorous – was said to eat beetroot to keep herself youthful and sexually appealing. She was onto something, too, because beets are natural containers of tryptophan and boron, the former increases serotonin, and the latter increases sex hormones in the brain. They’re also deeply coloured in hues of purple and red – colours of passion and desire. If it’s good enough for Aphrodite, it’s good enough for us…

Pomegranates are similar – they’re rich in taste and colour, and they’re also linked to our leader in love, Aphrodite (aphrodisiac, Aphrodite – you get the gist). Because they have so many seeds, they are associated with fertility and prosperity.

Main: oysters with grilled asparagus

Myth busting time: despite their reputation as the all-time aphrodisiac, the oyster falls a little short when it comes to stimulating sex. Whether you love or hate them, oysters don’t rank highly when it comes to taste and smell – they’re light, fresh, and fishy, but lack the depth of flavour typically associated with aphrodisiacs. They deserve a special mention, though, if only for their fame in the history of sexy eats.

What you can do is pair them with some grilled asparagus – lightly sea-salted with a squeeze of lemon. A more successful aphrodisiac because of its obviously phallic shape, asparagus also contains vitamins and minerals which cleanse the kidneys and boost energy. Even better, it contains aspartic acid that neutralises ammonia – a chemical which leads to tiredness and lowered libido, neither of which help a first date.

Dessert: chocolate-coated strawberries

Aphrodisiacs when they’re each alone, why not combine both strawberries and chocolate? Bright red, sweet-tasting, and love-heart-shaped, the strawberry ticks boxes as far as sight, taste, and smell. Once upon a time, the fruit was best known in association with Venus, the goddess of love. Is your heart fluttering yet?

Chocolate is the Valentine’s Day/Anniversary/apology favourite. Its association with love and romance feels deeply ingrained into our holiday psyche, so it certainly sets the romantic bells ringing. But scientifically speaking, chocolate contains a chemical called phenethylamine – which is released in the human brain when falling in love. Chocolate also contains tryptophan, an amino acid involved in the production of serotonin – the brain chemical that makes us feel happy and loved up.

Plus, the thick and velvety texture of chocolate, its rich smell, and its striking taste all contribute to its success as a passion-inducing food.

That completes the erotic eating menu. Avocados, honey, coffee, and figs also hold honourable positions on the list of aphrodisiacs. The science is helpful back-up, but the main thing these foods have in common is that they allow for exciting and stimulating sensory experiences. The mental element is also one that cannot be underplayed – the associations that we as a society have with certain foods increase the effect that they have on arousal, but the same stands for personal associations. What might work for you or your partner may be different to what works for others, so have a little dig around your mind and think about what food brings passion to your plate.

Bon appétit,

The Roam team x

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