Human beings are on an eternal quest for love, sex appeal and sexual prowess. Health24's DietDoc investigates the foods of love, to inspire romance and love.
Aphrodisiacs - Human beings have been consuming weird and wonderful foods, herbs and beverages since the dawn of time in the hope and belief that these magic pills and potions will make the consumer more attractive to the opposite sex or increase his/her performance in the bedroom. Of course nowadays we have Viagra, but the old beliefs die hard and there are thousands of people who firmly believe that eating oysters and caviar, and sipping champagne, will turn them into super studs.
But how true are these ideas and beliefs surrounding dietary aphrodisiacs? I believe that every myth is based on a bit of truth, no matter how tiny. So let’s have a scientific look at some of the most popular aphrodisiac foods to see if there is a reason why they have earned this wonderful reputation.
Seafood - Oysters, caviar, prawns, lobsters, shrimps, perlemoen (abalone), and other forms of seafood have always been regarded as aphrodisiacs. From a nutritional point of view, seafoods are rich in protein, iron, zinc and iodine.
Protein of animal origin found in seafood, supplies the body with all the essential amino acids to build strong muscles and lean body tissue - both highly desirable traits in prospective lovers.
Iron is essential for the production of healthy red blood cells which in turn ensure that your brain and muscles are supplied with plenty of oxygen and glucose, thus increasing stamina.
Zinc is one of the most important trace elements found in semen. The zinc level in semen is 100 times higher than in blood. In populations deprived of zinc, puberty is delayed and the sexual organs do not develop normally. Sufficient zinc in your diet by eating plenty of seafood may also help to improve your chances in the Valentine’s sweepstakes. And this is where oysters come in - raw and canned oysters contain a whopping 91 mg of zinc per 100g, probably the highest concentration found in any food.
Iodine is required for the normal functioning of the thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is often referred to as the “power-house” of the body. If you produce insufficient thyroid hormones you will feel sluggish, tired, depressed and have little energy left for amorous pursuits. To be filled with vim and vigor, you need an active thyroid. To keep your thyroid healthy, you require iodine, so tuck into that seafood.
When tomatoes were first introduced into Europe, they were called “love apples”, because of the stimulating effect they were believed to have. This notion was pooh-poohed by the scientific establishment for many years. And yet, new research is showing that tomatoes are the richest source of lycopene in our diet.
Lycopene, which is one of the so-called carotenoids, is proving to be a potent anti-carcinogen, particularly for prostate cancer.
A large study which was conducted over a period of seven years showed that lycopene in foods such as tomato sauce and pizza, had a dramatic effect on the incidence of prostate cancer. Men eating ten servings of tomato-rich foods a week were 35% less likely to develop prostate cancer than men eating only one serving a week. Tomato sauce, that much maligned product, has the highest lycopene content of all foods and gives the greatest protection against prostate cancer. Viva tomato sauce!
I would like to suggest that all you prospective lovers tuck into some raw oysters with all the trimmings, followed by a seafood pizza with plenty of tomato sauce and a large green salad garnished with olive oil. Have a mango sorbet for dessert washed down with champagne or red wine.
You will find that this menu is not too heavy to make you sluggish and full of love foods that will boost your health, if not your prowess! Enjoy! - (Dr I.V. van Heerden, DietDoc, Health24, updated April 2011)
Photo: Oysters from Shutterstock
Any questions? Ask DietDoc