Collecting every aphrodisiac food I could think of from my local Morrisons certainly led to a rather odd assortment of shopping, and turned my kitchen into a strange ‘Mr Grey’s playroom’ for food; I hope my tastes are… unconventional enough for this.
We’ve all heard about aphrodisiacs, these apparent wonders that can turn any date night into an adult sleepover, but is there any biological evidence for this, or is it all psychological?
When it comes to aphrodisiac foods there’s plenty to choose from – oysters to chocolate and bananas to salmon – but I’m pretty sure last time I snacked on a banana I didn’t feel the sudden urge to jump someone’s bones. They may not be the magical ingredients to put a special spell on your partner, so if you’re wanting your night to end with a bang, maybe don’t go putting so much reliance on what dinner you’re going to serve but, either way, I’m putting my investigative journalistic skills to the test and trying some out anyway. Any excuse to eat food.
First up on the menu, chocolate! Not going to lie to you, this stage in my experiment may have gone on longer than it should have. A couple of big bars of dairy milk later and I’m already starting to get full. The science behind chocolate’s aphrodisiac qualities is phenylethylamine which invokes feelings of excitement. It’s true I always get excited when I see chocolate, but I don’t think it’s quite the same sort of exhilaration they were meaning.
If you want to turn up the heat on your hot date then some fiery chillies could do the trick. Chillies contain capsaicin which supposedly increases blood flow and stimulates nerves endings, which all sounds good and dandy for a fun night in, however your steamy mood may be extinguished slightly when you both start chugging gallons of milk through tears of burning pain. Of course for a lot of people pain and pleasure can go hand in hand. A cascade of endorphins, serotonin, and melatonin triggered by a bite of chilli can be translated in the mind to an exhilarating pleasure, but if you’re looking for a less burning aphrodisiac, there are other options. Asparagus and avocados can help produce more testosterone, estrogen, and progestrogen, all of which help stimulate the need for the nasty.
Red wine can also help with relaxation. Now I know what you’re thinking: “Well duh, of course alcohol helps with sex”. And yeah, take a questionnaire with any population of students and you’re pretty much guaranteed to find plenty of evidence supporting that claim, but I’m not talking about getting drunk here. Too much alcohol can actually be a hindrance on performance, plus a thumping headache mixed with mild morning after regret can be a pretty big turn off. One or two glasses is the preferred amount, once again increasing bloodflow and circulation.
Now oysters seem to be the popular choice with aphrodisiacs, ask anyone and these will probably be the first that leaps to mind. As a dedicated member of qmunicate, I’m willing to try almost anything for a story, even these weird, squished, snail-looking things. My thoughts? “Dear lord what is this disgusting taste in my mouth?!” Which I suppose is a bit of a parallel with some date nights. Oysters are filled with zinc which increases testosterone and thus should send your sex drive rocketing – so, if you don’t mind eating something that both looks and tastes like a fish sneezed in a shell for you, then go ahead. But personally I think I’m going to stick to something which doesn’t make me gag – I’ve heard spitting is a bit of a turn off.
At the end of the night, sitting here in my flat with possibly the strangest meal I’ve ever had, do I feel at all in the mood? No, but that’s probably because I’m sitting alone and chugging wine to try get rid of that salty oyster taste. The biology behind aphrodisiacs aren’t enough to get anyone going, the mind also needs a bit of stimulating. The majority of biological effects are too subtle to really notice but according to science, they are there, and every little does count. Just don’t go suggesting a cheeky trip to the restaurant toilets after your partner finishes their salmon and asparagus because that scenario probably won’t play out as well as you’d like.