We all know what they say about oysters and chocolate. But did you know that garlic and watermelon also have vessel-dilating properties that allow for increased blood flow resulting in effects similar to that of a certain V-named pill? With the romantic holiday approaching and the temptation to spend a night dining out (or cozying up solo with a pint of salted caramel gelato, no judgement), we thought we'd point out some unassuming aphrodisiacs in the culinary world that might set the mood for a perfect evening.
As mentioned, garlic's ability to increase blood flow means it makes arousal, ahem, easier. Bear in mind, while the idea of scarfing a mouthful of garlic is epitome of a non-sexy time, experts suggest that for garlic to work as an effective aid in sexual performance it should be taken as a supplement. Additionally (outside of science) ancient Greeks believed garlic had powers to increase stamina and inspire riotous energy. Legend has it that garlic was fed to top athletes prior to Olympic competitions to enhance performance.
The bright red colour and spicy heat unleashed from these peppers knock up the excitement in whatever dish they're included. Red chillies contain the chemical capsaicin, which increases circulation, gets blood pumping and stimulates nerve endings. In addition to increasing the flow of endorphins (the brain's feel good chemicals), elevated capsaicin levels speeds up heart rate and makes you sweat, which all essentially mimics the body's state during arousal.
Pine nuts are considered significant enhancers of male well-being, as they're very high in zinc. This mineral is necessary in maintaining male potency and has been used to stimulate libido as far as back as Medieval times. Beyond their sexual benefits, pine nuts are good for the heart, being good sources of thiamin, iron, magnesium and manganese. It's also believed that pine nuts had a significant historical presence, particularly mentioned in The Perfumed Garden (an ancient Arabic love manual), where pine nuts are referenced in a prescription to restore a man's sexual vigor by Galen in 200 AD: "A glass of thick honey, plus 20 almonds and 100 pine nuts repeated for three nights."
Maybe red-coloured foods already have the advantage of symbolically representing passion, but pomegranates owe their lust-inducing powers to their natural antioxidant properties. Antioxidants protect the lining of blood vessels, allowing blood travel through more easily. What this means in non-science speak is increased sensitivity in southern nerve endings. Studies have also shown that drinking pomegranate juice daily results in lowered cortisol levels, which can correspond with increased testosterone in both men and women. Elevated testosterone can lead to increased sexual desire in both sexes. Ergo - consider pomegranate the original forbidden fruit!
Mineral and antioxidant rich, dark leafy greens like arugula or rocket seed have been considered aphrodisiacs since the first century. In defence of our body's subjectivity to libido-reducing influences (looking at you, hard alcohols), arugula works to block environmental contaminates that could negatively effect sex drive. This property, in conjunction with arugula's natural powers of providing incredible energy, make eating your greens extra worthwhile.
Just hearing about a dish with this expensive, earthy fungus unleashes excitement signals from the get-go. The pungent flavour and delicate handling also contribute to the sexy reputation of truffles, already established back in Roman times as one of the world's finest aphrodisiacs. The scent is believed to mimic androstenone, which, like pheramones, function to attract the opposite sex. If truffles are tough to find (we can help you hunt for some in Tuscany this fall!) you can opt for mushrooms instead, though results might not be quite the same.
We're excited just thinking of how we will be using all these ingredients in our indulgent Tuscan trip this fall! Join us on a five day culinary adventure where we hunt for truffles, chop chills, grind pine nuts and savour with premium Italian wine. To book your spot on our trip with your partner in crime contact Clara Power at the link here!