Food As Aphrodisiac
- It's February 1st, and that means there's a woodchuck
in our near future. Tomorrow, at 7:25 AM, a groundhog
named Phil will look for his shadow as America learns
whether or not there will be six more weeks of winter.
February is also the month for Christmas inventory
clearance sales, Chinese New Year (#4700, Year of the
Goat), President's Day, and the one special holiday
which drives America's chocolate industry,
the most romatic of holidays, Valentine's Day.
What foods put you into a romatic mood?
Scientists have identified the chemical steroid,
testosterone, as the hormone most responsible
for increased (male and female) sexual libido.
So, what foods promote the production of
testosterone? We'll explore that in a few moments.
For many years, the Oyster Industry has claimed that
oysters increase the human libido. What is a steak
house to do?
The Morton's chain (65 outlets) hired the Roper-ASW
research firm to poll its customers. It should come
as no surprise that those eating at Morton's described
their version of the perfect romantic meal to include
steak as the entree, accompanied by wine, followed by
a chocolate dessert.
Nearly half said that they would order chicken, fish,
or lobster. Only 18% would order oysters.
So, back to our original question. What foods promote
the production of testosterone?
Beats me. I haven't a clue.
However, a study at the University of Oxford did
get my attention. In July of 2001, the British Journal
of Cancer (83;1) reported a study in which testosterone
levels were measured in over 700 Oxford University men.
There subjects included 237 meat eaters, 237 vegetarians
(who ate milk and dairy products), and 233 vegans (who
ate no animal products whatsoever). One would assume that
meat eaters were "real men," right? Wrong. The higest
level of testosterone was found to occur in the vegans.
The lowest level was measured in the meat eaters.
So, let's examine some food aphrodisiacs for this year's
Valentine's Day meal. What is an aphrodisiac? Foods
arousing or increasing sexual desire and performance
were named after the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite.
Pliny and Dioscordes, both Greek philosopher/chefs,
documented foods that provided the most sensual of
gratification. The ancient list included anise, arugula,
basil, carrot, turnips, pistachio nuts, sage, fennel, and
The Romans dedicated celery to their god Pluto, god of sex
and hell. Cloves were also considered to be a powerful natural
aphrodisiac. A Chinese apothecary would prescribe ginger
as a cure-all for lack of romance. Horseradish had aphrodisiac
properties for Hungarians, while delicately scented jasmine
flowers were sacred to those people living on the
During the Middle Ages, it was rumored that mustard stimulated
the action of sexual glands, but for me, mustard conjurs up
images of Yves veggie hot dogs sold at baseball games in Toronto.
Nutmeg, oregano, and saffron were said to stimulate the
passions. There is no better time for thyme than Valenthymes
Day to make erogenous zones even more erogenous.
Garlic was the most prized of substances to the ancient
Egyptians. Truffles (if you can afford 'em) are said
to work their magic spells on all lovers.
The French honeymoon was never complete until the bride
and bridegroom first dined upon asparagus...drizzled
with freshly squeezed lemon.
No Roman orgy was complete without clusters of grapes,
and the fruit of all fruits symbolic of man's first
sexual encounter was the forbidden apple offered to
Adam by Eve.
Enjoy Valentine's Day with the incredible bounty of
sweet fruits and fresh vegetables. My favorite aphrodisiac:
strawberries and bananas drizzled with maple syrup.
Enjoy your feast!