Food & Sex - Examples

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The foods listed in this chapter have been reported as aphrodisiacs or anaphrodisiacs. Some of them have that reputation simply because of their shape or their appearance in mythology or old/ancient stories about sex, others because of their aroma or because of some chemical compounds you can find in them. But even if they don’t have aphrodisiac qualities, many of them are rich in nutrients, like vitamins, minerals and other healthy compounds that can promote sexual health.


Foods that are said to be aphrodisiacs because of their appearance (shape etc.) or their use in history / folk remedy

  • Avocado

The Aztecs called the avocado tree the “testicle tree”. But other than the slight resemblance of male testicles and a smooth and thus “sensual” texture, an avocado doesn’t have other qualities that could boost your libido.


  • Almonds

Almonds are an ancient symbol of fertility. The smell of almonds alone is supposed to be arousing for women by inducing passion.


  • Bananas

Since the resemblance to the male penis is quite obvious, bananas have a long reputation of being an aphrodisiac (for men especially if it is eaten by desired woman in a seductive way), but that’s about it. That aside, bananas are a good source of potassium and B vitamins (which are essential for the production of testosterone) and chelating minerals (which improve the absorption of nutrients in the body).


  • Carrots

Because of their phallic shape, carrots are believed to be a stimulant to the male since ancient times. Early Middle Eastern royalties used carrots to aid seduction. What has been scientifically proven is that carrots have a high content of vitamins and beta-carotene (an antioxidant).


  • Cucumbers

Again, the resemblance with male genitals is quite obvious. And aside of its phallic shape, the scent of cucumbers is believed to stimulate women by increasing blood flow to the vagina.


  • Figs

Figs are said to resemble female sex organs. So a man breaking open and eating a ripe fig is considered a powerful erotic act. In ancient Greece it symbolized fertility. It is the equivalent for a man seeing a woman eating a banana as mentioned above.


  • Oysters

In classic literature, like some novels of Shakespeare or the tale of Casanova, oysters had always aphrodisiac qualities. Maybe because some people think that oysters resemble female genitals and that eating fresh oysters is an erotic act.

The truth is oysters are a protein-rich food, full of zinc and selenium. Besides from all the general health benefits of zinc and selenium, like boosting the immune system or playing a role in the functioning of the thyroid gland, zinc is important for healthy sperm. And some of the amino acids of the oyster proteins are believed to enhance oestrogen and testosterone production, which increases sexual response (see also here:



Foods that are said to be aphrodisiacs because of their aroma, texture or some of their chemical components

  • Basil / Sweet Basil

Basil has a reputation of stimulating the sex drive, boost fertility and producing a general sense of well-being since ancient times. Especially men were said to be driven wild by the sole scent of basil. People believed so much in the aphrodisiac qualities of basil so that women would dust their breast with dried and powdered basil in order to attract men. In ayurvedic medicine, basil is very popular. However, basil has a high content of many minerals like calcium, magnesium and iron as well as the vitamins A, C and K and dietary fiber. It also contains a high content of flavanoids which act as antioxidants to the cells in our body.


  • Celery

You often find articles that claim that researchers found androsterone (a pheromone that attracts women and that as a metabolic product of testosterone is found in human male sweat) in celery and that eating celery increases the pheromone levels of the eater, increasing his attractiveness to women by signalling virility and masculinity. In this case it is a simple case of misunderstanding: celery is not high in androsterone but in androstenone. It has a different structure than androsterone and is otherwise unrelated, which means that it does not have any effects like those of androsterone.


  • Chocolate

Chocolate and cocoa has been associated with love and romance since the rise of the Mayan and Aztec civilization in South America and probably even before then. According to legends, Aztec rulers drank chocolate every day to enhance their sexual abilities. Today, chocolate is still considered a very sensual food by many people.

Chocolate has been shown to help release mood-lifting endorphins (which are also released during an orgasm) when eaten. Researchers found it to contain phenylethylamine and serotonin, which are both chemicals that produce a euphoric feeling, like when you’re in love. A third chemical found in chocolate is anandamide, which is a neurotransmitter. Anandamide may have the same effect on the brain as marijuana. There is by far not enough of this chemical in chocolate to get a person “high” (and even if you eat lots and lots of chocolate, it is more likely that you go into a diabetic coma first before getting a rush from it), but together with serotonin and phenylethylamine it could be enough to contribute to good feelings, especially if you have associated good memories of past events with chocolate. And these good feelings might lower your inhibitions and make you more excited and alerted. By the way, raw chocolate also contains a large amount of antioxidants, more than red wine.


  • Chili peppers

Capsaicin contained in chilli peppers generates, when eaten, some physiological responses in our bodies that are similar to those experienced when having sex, e.g. sweating, increasd heart rate, increased circulation. Large quantities of chilli peepers can even cause an irritation of the genitals and urinary tract that may feel similar to sexual excitement. That could be the cause, why chilli peppers are said to be an aphrodisiac.


  • Garlic

Long time ago, Tibetan monks were forbidden to enter the monastery if they had been eating garlic because it had a reputation for stirring up sexual desire. In many cultures, garlic has been used for centuries to cure everything from common cold to heart ailments. Despite its medicinal qualities, an aphrodisiac one has never been proven.


  • Ginger root

For centuries, people in Asia have deemed ginger root an aphrodisiac because of its scent. Raw, cooked or candied, ginger is a stimulant to the circulatory system.


  • Honey

Many medicines in ancient Egypt were based on honey including cures for sterility and impotence. In medieval times in Europe and in ancient Persia people drank mead, a fermented drink made from honey, to promote sexual desire, especially after getting married. Honey is rich in B vitamins that are needed in testosterone production, and boron, which helps the body metabolize and use oestrogen.


  • Liquorice

In ancient China, liquorice was not only used for medicinal purposes but also to enhance love and lust. Especially the smell of liquorice was said to be particularly stimulating. Unfortunately, a recent study came to the conclusion, that liquorice may cause the opposite of that desired effect. You can find out more about that in the anaphrodisiac category below.


  • Nutmeg

In ancient China, women prized nutmeg an aphrodisiac. Whilst nutmeg has found to increase mating behaviours in mice, there is no evidence to prove that the same happens in humans. In high dosages, nutmeg even can produce a hallucinogenic effect.


  • Papaya

Papaya has compounds that act as the female hormone oestrogen. That is why it has been used as a folk remedy for ages in order to increase the female libido (besides promoting menstruation, increasing milk production and facilitating childbirth).


  • Pine nuts

Pine nuts have been used to stimulate the libido for centuries in many different cultures. They even were a popular and widely used ingredient in love potions. Like oysters, pine nuts are high in zinc, which is, among other effects, beneficial to the body’s immune system and important for testosterone and sperm production as well as sexual health.


  • Watermelon

Recently, scientists found out that the edible part of fresh watermelon contains citrullin, an amino acid. In the body, citrullin is converted into the amino acid arginine and finally nitric oxide that will help in blood vessel dilatation. That is why in some media citrullin is called natural Viagra. It sounds great but truth is, the vast majority of people produce enough arginine so that there is no deficiency and furthermore, nobody knows how much citrulline it would have to take to reach Viagra-like effect but you probably would have to eat several watermelons each day to reach such an effect. The reasons to eat watermelon are, for example, that watermelon is low in calories and provides potassium and the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene in addition to citrulline, which make watermelon a healthy snack.



Foods that are said to be anaphrodisiacs

The following foods are said to have anaphrodisiac qualities. Some of these foods also have a reputation of being aphrodisiac. So you can see that while some people think that a particular food can increase their libido, others can feel turned-off by the very same food, which is one of the reasons why it is impossible to agree on a dependable aphrodisiac. In a modern sense, anaphrodisiacs could be defined as substances or foods that decrease the levels of crucial hormones like testosterone. Testosterone is found both in men and women but predominantly in males. Signs of low testosterone in a male are increased body fat, muscle loss, infertility, lack of sexual desire and tender breasts.


  • Alcohol

Almost everyone knows that alcohol in very small dosages lowers your inhibitions so that you may feel sexy and confident after a drink or two. But alcohol is also a proven depressant and furthermore it reduces your natural sexual response, which will make it harder to achieve orgasm and even to function well at sex. So if you drink too much you most certainly will get drunk. And then maybe you’re not even able to have sex at all. That is why through history people called alcohol an aphrodisiac and anaphrodisiac at the same time with emphasis on the second one. A little may make you feel sexier, but just a little too much and you will experience many negative effects on your perception, as well as your emotional and physical condition. The effects of alcohol are easily noticeable but none of them qualifies alcohol as aphrodisiac and anaphrodisiac.


  • Corn flakes

Believe it or not: Corn flakes were invented to aid sexual abstinence and to curb masturbation tendencies. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, the inventor of the corn flakes, was a strict religious man and superintendent of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, who believed that sexual acts aside from those used for procreation, especially masturbation, were sinful. While searching for a cold, non-spicy vegetarian meal in order to decrease sexual appetite (because he believed that hot and spicy food would encourage sexual appetite), he and his brother accidentally produced corn flakes. There is no proof that corn flakes actually diminish the libido.


  • Hops / Beer

Hops were historically used to curb sexual desire in sexually deviant men. That might be the cause for the anaphrodisiac reputation of beer, in which hops are one of the main ingredients. However, there are no scientific studies available that would support these claims.


  • Liquorice extracts

Although in ancient China, Liquorice was used in order to induce a stimulatory effect, recent findings of an Iranian research group and of a previous study conducted in 1999 suggest that liquorice can lower testosterone levels. A low testosterone level can affect libido and mood and even increase the risk of sexual problems. However, other studies haven’t found such a link between liquorice extracts and testosterone level in men.


  • Soy

While soy enjoys a good reputation as healthy alternative to red meat in a diet, there is some concern that the excessive consumption of soy could lower testosterone levels. Soy and soy products contain isoflavones, which are said to have oestrogen-like properties. In the body they may mimic the effects of oestrogen, which is the predominant female reproductive hormone. The concern is that oestrogen levels could rise over time. In men, a higher level in oestrogen would equal lower levels of testosterone. Most studies could not prove a correlation between soy consumption and a decrease in testosterone levels. However, in a few studies an impact on the testosterone levels was shown, so the overall evaluation remains a little bit inconclusive. It seems that the effect that soy has on the testosterone level varies very much from person to person and only affects some very few males. And you would have to eat a lot of soy on a daily basis for several years to reach this effect. If you may think of males in Asia: a typical Asian diet contains a lot less soy than a western vegan diet consisting of a high amount of processed soy products. That is why you can’t compare these two forms of diets.


This is by no means a complete list and historical sources sometimes even contradict each other if it is an aphrodisiac or an anaphrodisiac. Unless otherwise noted in the descriptions, there is no scientific research to back these claims up.


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