Aphrodisiacs: What Are They … And do they really work?

Words by Molly Britt


Oysters, pineapple, dark chocolate…we have all been there, trying to find out the truth if these foods actually do stimulate a sexual desire or drive. I know you have, so do not try and deny it (wink, wink). Well, we are about to jump into the deep end of aphrodisiacs to find out the truth so you don’t have to…unless you want to.


Aphrodisiacs are defined as any food or drug that arouses the sexual instinct, induces venereal desire, and increases pleasure and performance. According to wellness dietitian and author Elaine Magee, “No food has been scientifically proven to stimulate the human sex organs. But foods and the act of eating can suggest sex to the mind, which in turn can help stimulate desire in the body.” The aim is to find certain foods that stimulate your senses. 


While there is no proven scientific evidence of foods stimulating the human body’s sexual organs, they can have an effect on the way your mind reacts to them and actually create desire. 


“Desire is physical, psychosocial and relational, and involves a lot of variables,” Nan Wise, neuroscientist, sex therapist and relationship specialist told BBC.com.” If you believe food increases desire, the psychology of the placebo effect affects our capacity to get turned on or off.” In other words, it’s all about context. 


At this point, the placebo effect is in play more than any real physiological reaction, but if it produces the same result, who are we to say aphrodisiacs don’t work? 


That said, there are five types of aphrodisiacs. 1) Foods that create warmth and moisture. They signify a “heated” passion vs. cold foods signifying a “chilling” passion. 2) Foods that look like sexual organs (every eggplant emoji user’s favorite). I guess eating an oyster or a carrot in front of your significant other can be a turn on if you can do it without laughing. 3) Reproductive organs like fish roe, bird eggs, and animal genitals. All I would be able to think is “I’m eating an animal’s ‘hoo-hah’…ouch” but to each their own. 4) Exotic and rare foods, like when cocoa first became popular. 5) Foods that stimulate the senses in a pleasurable way.


What is funny to note is that most foods have been thought to be an aphrodisiac at one time or another. Vegetables were considered to stimulate sexual desire and increase sperm count, while fruits like pears and apples were seen as erotic. Seeded fruits were seen as the “seeds of fertility,” and oysters were thought to contribute to many sexual exploits and desires.


Aztecs once believed chocolate was a powerful aphrodisiac. In the 1980s scientists actually discovered a chemical in chocolate called phenylethylamine, which acts as a central nervous system stimulant present in the human brain thought to help arouse emotions. However, the body actually absorbs very little of the chemical from chocolate so it cannot affect us. 


Throughout the centuries things like spices and potatoes were believed to be aphrodisiacs simply because they were new and people did not know how to react to them. Certain foods have been considered “sexy” just based on their textures, like foods that are smooth, rich, creamy, exotic and spicy.


Now I hate to crush your bubble of sexy foods to eat with your significant other, but the real reason this idea has survived for so long is simply because it draws people in with fancy promises, like many other things. Unsolicited opinion, but maybe if aphrodisiacs are all you are counting on to stimulate you and your significant other, you should see someone, not eat something. BUT if this is just for fun, keep at it. Who am I and tons of scientists to tell you not to have fun in the bedroom?

About Molly Britt

Molly Britt is a multimedia journalist with Folio Weekly, as well as an account executive. As a Jax Beach local and University of North Florida graduate, she is familiar with all things Duval and Northeast Florida. She enjoys investigative journalism and interviews, using her platform to educate and inform the local community with her words. While at Folio, Britt has enjoyed interviews with the likes of Robby Takac of the Goo Goo Dolls and local small businesses such as Femme Fire Books.