Your Health—In Time For Valentine’s Day, The Truth Behind Aphrodisiacs
Posted: Monday, February 13, 2017 – 12:59 PM
They say Valentine’s Day is for lovers and many like to celebrate each other with a seductive meal of aphrodisiacs to get their minds and bodies racing. While the idea that most of the foods thought to enhance sexual activity is based on myths, according to Dr. Adrienne Youdim, MD, a physician nutrition specialist, “there are some foods that can give you that boost and urge to get frisky.”
“There is no medical evidence to support certain foods as being aphrodisiacs,” says Youdim. “The notions that there are sexually charged foods come from legend/myths, from other cultures or are anecdotal or subjective.” But the doctor says there are some plausible reasons why certain foods could act as sexual enhancers:
• Chocolate —It contains tyramine which is a naturally occurring derivative of amino acids. Chocolate can have stimulatory effects by arousing excitatory neurotransmitters in the body. Tyramine is also found in alcoholic beverages and cheeses. Hence the popularity of the wine and cheese party. But the doctor advises caution, people taking certain medications or with certain health problems may need to stay clear of too much tyramine.
Chocolate also contains phenylamine which is an organic compound that has stimulatory and psychoactive effects on the body. Cocoa may increase sensitivity.Oysters.
• Oysters—And other seafood considered to be aphrodisiacs come from the legend of Aphrodite—goddess of love—who was said to have come from the sea. Seafood, and in particular oysters, have a high content of zinc, a mineral that is necessary for production of testosterone, therefore it is plausible that oysters help with male potency.
• Chili Peppers —Due to color, shape and heat, chili peppers have been associated with virility in many cultures. Capsaicin is an active ingredient in cayenne peppers and has a particularly high concentration of steroids which may contribute to the belief of its sex-enhancing properties. Capsaicin intake also increases heart rate and causes sweating—physiologic responses that are common to sexually activity
If the food doesn’t kick up a libido, another sure fire way of getting the engine revved is exercise:
“Numerous studies have shown that regular, vigorous exercise can enhance sexuality. Exercise may enhance sexual performance and decrease sexual dysfunction from a physical, physiologic, and psychological perspective,” says Youdim. “An exercise program that focuses on cardiovascular and muscular endurance, muscular strength and flexibility will allow for longer-lasting sex. Exercise improves physiologic sexual response and functioning by increasing circulation, which includes blood flow to the genital region. “
Youdim specializes in medical weight loss and medical nutritional therapy. After nearly a decade of serving as the medical director of the Center of Weight Loss at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Dr. Youdim has opened the Center for Weight Loss and Nutrition at the Lasky Clinic in Beverly Hills