All the Truth about Aphrodisiacs in Food

Each Valentine’s Day we present your sweethearts with boxes of chocolates in hopes to make her happy and maybe even arouse a different feeling in her. Everyone says that chocolates have aphrodisiac powers, so it must be true, right?

Examining facts

When we examine the available medical literature, we can see that there are virtually no scientific studies that link a particular food to sexual arousal. However, what they do mention is an array of side effects that come from consuming various supplements that are thought to have aphrodisiac-like effect. For example,


A Spanish fly – an extract from South African “blister beetles” has potentially deadly side effect

a Spanish fly (an extract from South African “blister beetles”) has potentially deadly side effect including genital ulcers, mouth ulcers, and heart and kidney failure.

Bufo venom extracted from marine toads can cause vomiting and abnormal heart rhythm

Another frequently used supplement is Bufo venom. This venom is extracted from marine toads and can cause vomiting, abnormal heart rhythm and seizures.

There is one study that evaluates the effect of a product called “Libido.” This supplement is made from fertilized, chicken eggs. Despite the fact that findings were positive, the number of subjects in this study was too small and the testing period was too short for any conclusive results.

Why This Myth Continues to Exist?

There are a number of possible explanations as to why there is still a belief that certain foods act as an aphrodisiac:

  • The power of suggestion. Our mind has much more power than we think. If we believe that a certain type of food will help with our love life, it will certainly boost our confidence and will truly boost our sexual prowess.
  • inability_to_disprove

    It’s hard to prove that something is an aphrodisiac, as it is to disprove

  • The inability to disprove some of the claims. Due to the fact that arousal is a complex function, it is just as hard to prove that something is an aphrodisiac, as it is to disprove it. All medical studies have to be double-blinded. This means that not only the test subject doesn’t know whether he or she received a real supplement or a placebo, but the evaluator doesn’t know this as well. Imagine trying to do this with oysters for example. It would be pretty hard to make a convincing placebo-replica of an oyster. And of course this type of study has no value since even if we get a positive result, it could be argued that the subject knew that he was getting an oyster, which caused a certain reaction. On the other hand if there was no effect, it could be argued that the type of oysters was wrong, or the number of subjects too small.
  • Intuitive appeal. It is appealing to assume that one human instinct such as eating will be closely connected to another instinct – sexual activity. However, the reality is not as simple as 1+1=2.
  • The appearance of food. The shape of the food might also spark some sexual thoughts. This is probably why bananas and carrots are thought to have aphrodisiac powers.
  • Misinterpreting bodily sensations. A number of foods especially certain peppers and spices can provoke rapid heart rate, sweating, and flushing. Our subconscious can confuse it with sexual excitement, and it can produce a very powerful effect. This phenomenon is called misattribution of arousal. This effect causes a person to think that their arousal-like state (rapid heart rate, sweating, and rapid breathing) was caused not by the situation (like walking across a rickety bridge) or a food or drink that they ate (a caffeinated drink – especially if the person doesn’t know that it is caffeinated), but by the person they are with! Therefore, foods that can be used in such a manner include:

    Caffeine, chocolate, excess sugar can cause high blood pressure and heart rate

    • Caffeine-containing drinks – coffee, black or green tea, energy drinks.
    • Chocolate – contains theobromine – a compound similar in action to caffeine.
    • Excess sugar – high blood sugar can cause blood pressure and heart rate to spike, due to the fact that it interferes with proper function of the blood vessels.


In conclusion

There might not be any foods that might cause a real arousal. However, there are some foods that can cause a “fake” one, which is just as good as far as your subconscious mind is concerned. This is why the next time you decide to seduce a girl, take her on a speedy ride on your bike or go bungee jumping, and then treat her with a double espresso and hot chocolate for desert. The power of misattribution of arousal will be your greatest ally!