Aphrodisiacs: The skinny on the facts

Sep 9, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Is it an old wives' tale that oysters and chocolate make you want to claw at your partner after indulging? You all know that there are certain foods that put you in the mood, but do you know why? Here are some surprising facts about the foods you may (or may not!) know as aphrodisiacs.

Woman eating chilli pepper

By definition, an aphrodisiac is any food or drink (drugs count too, but we're staying away from those!) that stimulates sexual desire and causes excitement. These foods increase libido, which starts in the mind and works its way down to the body. The FDA doesn't stake claim in any truths behind so-called aphrodisiacs, so is it possible that your mind is just playing tricks on you? Is it all psychosomatic? Let's take a look at certain foods that have a variety of benefits to your body, and why they're thought to be aphrodisiacs. Have some fun with these and try them out! Come back and let us know how they worked out!




Scientists say that watermelon has ingredients that deliver Viagra-like effects to the body's blood vessels, possibly increasing libido. Watermelons, just like other fruits and veggies, have beneficial phytonutrients that react with the human body and initiate reactions. This fruit in particular is high in lycopene, beta carotene and citrulline, which has the ability to relax blood vessels (just like Viagra does!).




This herb has been around for over 7,000 years and is native to China, Russia, North Korea, Japan and some areas of North America. It contains steroid-like compounds known as ginsenosides that are said to enhance physical performance and build energy, increasing the libido of both men and women. On a related health note, the International Journal of Impotence Research conducted a study of 90 men with erectile dysfunction. It found that 60 percent reported improvement with regular intake of ginseng, compared to the 30 percent on placebo.


Chili pepper

chilli pepper

When handling chili peppers, it's extremely important to be vigilant about washing your hands before doing... other things. From red hot to green and spicy, chili peppers stimulate endorphins in the brain, speed up your heart rate and make you sweat. These reactions are similar to natural arousal feelings and are therefore considered aphrodisiacs.



Maca powder

This plant is native to the Andes of Peru and is known for its medicinal properties, as well as for being an aphrodisiac. There have been various studies surrounding maca and it's been found that it has variable effects on mood and energy, may decrease anxiety and improve sexual desire. It's also been shown to improve sperm production, sperm motility and semen volume (for all you couples trying to make babies!).




This vegetable is widely known for the pungent stench it creates in your urine, merely minutes after ingestion. However, its health benefits certainly outweigh that unpleasant side effect. Asparagus is a good source of potassium, fiber, vitamins B6, A and C, thiamin and folic acid. Folic acid boosts the production of histamine that's necessary for the ability to reach orgasm in both men and women. Bring on the stalks of green, please!

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