Valentine’s Day is almost here, which means it’s time to brush up on your wooing skills. Do better than a box of chocolates this year (although we like chocolate just fine) and indulge in the world of aphrodisiacs.To be fair, studies are a tad inconclusive on actual sexytime benefits, but the association had to come from somewhere, right? (Plus, the list is full of incredibly healthy foods, so whether or not they scientifically boost your libido, getting the nutrients you need for good health — including sexual health — and beauty is bound to make you feel sexier either way!)Maria Marlowe, a certified health coach and author of Detox Without the Deprivation, let us in on some of the foods — other than oysters, which are most commonly referred to as aphrodisiacs — that are associated with getting you in the mood. Some have an uncanny resemblance to sex organs; others have lots of vitamins that contribute to sexual health. Either way, fill up your Valentine’s Day menu with them just in case.
- Asparagus: This long rod-shaped vegetable was first noted as an aphrodisiac in a 15th century Arabic sex manual titled “The Perfumed Garden,” Marlowe said —obviously, for its phallic shape. Asparagus contains vitamin E, which Marlowe says helps boost libido. It’s also full of folic acid, which some studies have shown increases histamine, a hormone that’s important for orgasm.
- Avocados: “Adored by the Aztecs, their word for this creamy fruit, ahuacatl, directly translates to ‘testicles,’ because that’s what they thought it looked like growing in pairs on the tree,” Marlowe shared. This led them to consider it an aphrodisiac. Like asparagus, avocados are also packed with vitamin E, which helps facilitate heawlthy production of hormones like testosterone, estrogen and progesterone — all important for maintaining a healthy sex drive.
- Almonds: Women looking to improve their fertility are sometimes instructed to eat almonds as a natural fertility treatment, because of their high levels of healthy fats. Other research suggests almonds may improve sperm count. These healthy nuts have been historically considered a symbol of fertility, Marlowe said, “and some believe that their sweet smell arouses passion in women.”
- Banana: Bananas are another food that fall into the category of “penis-shaped so we can’t help but associate them with penetration.” But they’re also full of potassium and B vitamins, both important for regular sex hormone production. “The enzyme bromelain is especially libido-enhancing for men,” Marlowe said.
- Chile Peppers: Chiles get your blood pumping, increasing circulation and stimulating nerve endings, thanks to a compound called capsaicin. All that increased blood flow and stimulation has been shown to rev up libido.
- Chocolate: It’s not super original — but it works! Cacao contains tryptophan, which helps boost serotonin, the hormone that makes you happy. It also contains the stimulant phenylethylamine, the same chemical that’s released in the brain when you fall in love. “While researchers think you’d have to eat copious amounts to get any sort of physiological aphrodisiac effect, it could be that love and chocolate are so intertwined in our minds that it ‘s more the psychological association that turns us on,” Marlowe noted.
- Figs: OK, let’s just be blunt: Figs kind of look like ovaries when you cut them in half. Or hanging on the tree, more like testicles. Marlowe also said that they were considered to be Cleopatra’s favorite fruit, so maybe they played a part in her seductive tendencies.
- Honey: “This sweet and sticky nectar is filled with B vitamins, needed for testosterone production, and boron, which helps the body use and metabolize estrogen,” said Marlowe. Legend has it that the word “honeymoon” comes from an old tradition, dating back to the 5th century, when newlyweds drank a honey-based alcoholic drink for 30 days (the first moon) after marriage to help them get acquainted in the bedroom. Hey, it couldn’t hurt.