With Valentine’s day tomorrow, try adding some of these following aphrodisiac ingredients to your meal this year to ensure a romantic and memorable evening with your partner;
Top 5 aphrodisiac foods
Maca, this a sweet root vegetable which grows in the mountains of central Peru and is related to cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage (1). Maca not only has been shown to have several health benefits, it is also claimed to improve energy and stamina. In South America, many people consume maca simply to boost fertility and libido.
Animal studies have found that maca consumption can increase sexual arousal and even resolve erectile dysfunction (2). The findings have been backed by human studies as four research studies found that participants experienced an enhanced sexual desire once they had consumed maca (3, 4, 5, 6). Further studies suggest that maca consumption can help to reverse the loss of libido some patients feel when they are on anti-depressant medications (7).
2. Tribulus Terrestris
An annual plant which grows in dry climates is commonly used to improve athletic performance, loss of libido and even to treat infertility (8). Animal studies have found that taking the supplement can increase sperm production (9). Another study found that women who took the supplement for three months had an increase in their sexual satisfaction (10).
An annual plant which is cultivated all around the world. Although the seeds are commonly used as part of south Asian dishes, fenugreek has become a popular ayurvedic medicine for boosting libido. The herb appears to contain compounds which can help the body to synthesise sex hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone (11, 12).
A small study found that men who took fenugreek extract on a daily basis for six weeks reported higher levels of sexual arousal and orgasms (13). A similar study studied the effects on women and found women who had taken the extract had a significant increase in sexual desire and arousal in comparison to the placebo group (14).
4. Pistachio Nuts
They are commonly understood to be nutrient rich in protein, fibre and healthy fats (15). Pistachios also have numerous health benefits such as helping people to lower their blood pressure, control their weight and reduce their risk of heart disease (16, 17, 18). Moreover, pistachio nuts have been found to help men in increasing blood flow to the penis which can create firmer erections (19). Scientists have suggested this is down to the ability of pistachios improving blood cholesterol and improving blood flow around the body.
This is a spice which is derived from a flower known as Crocus sativus. The flower is native to Southwest Asia and is actually one of the most expensive spices when sold by weight. Some alternative medicines suggest using saffron to treat depression, lower stress levels and improve overall mood (20).
Interestingly, saffron is also popular for its potential aphrodisiac properties even in patients who are on antidepressants. One research study’s findings suggested that men who were given saffron daily for four weeks had a greater improvement in their erectile dysfunction than the men who were given placebos (21). A follow up study which was later carried out with women found that the saffron group of participants were experiencing higher levels of arousal and increased lubrication, unlike the women who were part of the placebo group (22).
There are many other foods such as chocolate and hot chillies which people claim can increase sexual desire; however there is currently very limited scientific evidence which supports their use as aphrodisiacs. Become a Nutrition Adviser today and learn more on how various foods can benefit you,
- Gonzales, G.F., 2012. Ethnobiology and ethnopharmacology of Lepidium meyenii (Maca), a plant from the Peruvian highlands. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.
- Zheng, B.L., He, K., Kim, C.H., Rogers, L., Shao, Y.U., Huang, Z.Y., Lu, Y., Yan, S.J., Qien, L.C. and Zheng, Q.Y., 2000. Effect of a lipidic extract from Lepidium meyenii on sexual behavior in mice and rats. Urology, 55(4), pp.598-602.
- Zenico, T., Cicero, A.F.G., Valmorri, L., Mercuriali, M. and Bercovich, E., 2009. Subjective effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) extract on well‐being and sexual performances in patients with mild erectile dysfunction: a randomised, double‐blind clinical trial. Andrologia, 41(2), pp.95-99.
- Brooks, N.A., Wilcox, G., Walker, K.Z., Ashton, J.F., Cox, M.B. and Stojanovska, L., 2008. Beneficial effects of Lepidium meyenii (Maca) on psychological symptoms and measures of sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women are not related to estrogen or androgen content. Menopause, 15(6), pp.1157-1162.
- Gonzales, G.F., Cordova, A., Vega, K., Chung, A., Villena, A., Góñez, C. and Castillo, S., 2002. Effect of Lepidium meyenii (MACA) on sexual desire and its absent relationship with serum testosterone levels in adult healthy men. andrologia, 34(6), pp.367-372.
- Stone, M., Ibarra, A., Roller, M., Zangara, A. and Stevenson, E., 2009. A pilot investigation into the effect of maca supplementation on physical activity and sexual desire in sportsmen. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 126(3), pp.574-576.
- Dording, C.M., Fisher, L., Papakostas, G., Farabaugh, A., Sonawalla, S., Fava, M. and Mischoulon, D., 2008. A Double‐Blind, Randomized, Pilot Dose‐Finding Study of Maca Root (L. Meyenii) for the Management of SSRI‐Induced Sexual Dysfunction. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 14(3), pp.182-191.
- West, E. and Krychman, M., 2015. Natural aphrodisiacs—a review of selected sexual enhancers. Sexual medicine reviews, 3(4), pp.279-288.
- Martino-Andrade, A.J., Morais, R.N., Spercoski, K.M., Rossi, S.C., Vechi, M.F., Golin, M., Lombardi, N.F., Greca, C.S. and Dalsenter, P.R., 2010. Effects of Tribulus terrestris on endocrine sensitive organs in male and female Wistar rats. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 127(1), pp.165-170.
- Gama, C.R., Lasmar, R., Gama, G.F., Abreu, C.S., Nunes, C.P., Geller, M., Oliveira, L. and Santos, A., 2014. Clinical assessment of Tribulus terrestris extract in the treatment of female sexual dysfunction. Clinical Medicine Insights: Women's Health, 7, pp.CMWH-S17853.
- Lee, K.S., Lee, E.K., Kim, S.Y., Kim, T.H. and Kim, H.P., 2015. Effect of a Mixed Extract of Fenugreek Seeds and Lespedeza cuneata on Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome. Korean Journal of Food Science and Technology, 47(4), pp.492-498.
- Sreeja, S. and Anju, V.S., 2010. In vitro estrogenic activities of fenugreek Trigonella foenum graecum seeds.
- Steels, E., Rao, A. and Vitetta, L., 2011. Physiological Aspects of Male Libido Enhanced by Standardized Trigonella foenum‐graecum Extract and Mineral Formulation. Phytotherapy Research, 25(9), pp.1294-1300.
- Rao, A., Steels, E., Beccaria, G., Inder, W.J. and Vitetta, L., 2015. Influence of a Specialized Trigonella foenum‐graecum Seed Extract (Libifem), on Testosterone, Estradiol and Sexual Function in Healthy Menstruating Women, a Randomised Placebo Controlled Study. Phytotherapy Research, 29(8), pp.1123-1130.
- Sauder, K.A., McCrea, C.E., Ulbrecht, J.S., Kris-Etherton, P.M. and West, S.G., 2014. Pistachio nut consumption modifies systemic hemodynamics, increases heart rate variability, and reduces ambulatory blood pressure in well-controlled type 2 diabetes: a randomized trial. Journal of the American Heart Association, 3(4), p.e000873.
- Li, Z., Song, R., Nguyen, C., Zerlin, A., Karp, H., Naowamondhol, K., Thames, G., Gao, K., Li, L., Tseng, C.H. and Henning, S.M., 2010. Pistachio nuts reduce triglycerides and body weight by comparison to refined carbohydrate snack in obese subjects on a 12-week weight loss program. Journal of the American College of Nutrition, 29(3), pp.198-203.
- Kay, C.D., Gebauer, S.K., West, S.G. and Kris-Etherton, P.M., 2010. Pistachios increase serum antioxidants and lower serum oxidized-LDL in hypercholesterolemic adults. The Journal of nutrition, 140(6), pp.1093-1098.
- Aldemir, M., Okulu, E., Neşelioğlu, S., Erel, O. and Kayıgil, Ö., 2011. Pistachio diet improves erectile function parameters and serum lipid profiles in patients with erectile dysfunction. International journal of impotence research, 23(1), p.32.
- Hausenblas, H.A., Saha, D., Dubyak, P.J. and Anton, S.D., 2013. Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) and major depressive disorder: a meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Journal of integrative medicine, 11(6), pp.377-383.
- Modabbernia, A., Sohrabi, H., Nasehi, A.A., Raisi, F., Saroukhani, S., Jamshidi, A., Tabrizi, M., Ashrafi, M. and Akhondzadeh, S., 2012. Effect of saffron on fluoxetine-induced sexual impairment in men: randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Psychopharmacology, 223(4), pp.381-388.
- Kashani, L., Raisi, F., Saroukhani, S., Sohrabi, H., Modabbernia, A., Nasehi, A.A., Jamshidi, A., Ashrafi, M., Mansouri, P., Ghaeli, P. and Akhondzadeh, S., 2013. Saffron for treatment of fluoxetine‐induced sexual dysfunction in women: randomized double‐blind placebo‐controlled study. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 28(1), pp.54-60.