Aphrodisiac foods have been around for centuries, but the majority of them are based on folklore and myths. There are, however, a handful of libido-enhancing foods that are supported by scientific evidence.
Here are five evidence-based foods that can boost your sex drive: user discretion advised.
1. Pistachio nuts
Pistachio nuts aren’t only a nutritious treat and tasty garnish. A small 2011 study confirmed that they appear to increase blood flow, leading to firmer erections.
This is good news for people who struggle with erectile dysfunction. In the study, men who consumed 3.5 ounces of pistachio nuts per day over three weeks experienced better blood flow and firmer erections.
Though further research is needed before this conclusion can be solidified, it’s worth a shot to add a couple of handfuls as a midday snack.
As if you needed another excuse to indulge: A 2013 study revealed that cocoa contains compounds such as serotonin, phenylethylamine, and tryptophan, which are natural mood boosters. They might also make an individual feel more aroused.
Then again, perhaps chocolate’s role as a romantic/sexual food is simply capitalism-driven. Either way, Valentine’s Day just wouldn’t be the same without it.
Fenugreek, a plant cultivated worldwide, has a great deal of research proving it’s libido-boosting powers.
One study found that fenugreek had a testosterone-enhancing effect on older men with Testosterone Deficiency Syndrome. Further research showed that men experienced increased sexual arousal and more orgasms after taking fenugreek consistently for six weeks.
Finally, an Australian study revealed that menstruating women with low sex drive reported significant increase in arousal and sexual desire after ingesting fenugreek extract for six weeks.
Maca is a Peruvian root vegetable with relation to broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage. Often referred to as a “superfood,” maca is probably the most scientifically sound aphrodisiac.
Four separate studies found that participants’ sexual desire was boosted after consuming maca. Moreover, for those experiencing lack of sex drive as a side-effect of antidepressant drugs, one study suggested that maca may help combat this with its libido-enhancing properties.
Though oysters are one of the most commonly referenced aphrodisiacs, the science is a bit shady here. A 2005 study found that mussels contain a chemical called D-Aspartic acid. This chemical regulates testosterone, so many outlets began saying “ah yes, raw oysters really are aphrodisiacs!”
The thing is, mussels aren’t the same thing as oysters. It seems that people just wanted to latch onto something — anything — that remotely confirmed oysters would heat up their sex life.
However, all hope isn’t lost for the slimy, genitalia-reminiscent food. Nancy Amy, a nutritionist and toxicologist at the University of California, told WIRED there’s an amazing placebo effect with aphrodisiacs. “If you think it’s going to work, then there’s already a 50% chance that it will.”