February is the month of love, and what better way to add fuel to your love fire than with food. Food can play a powerful role in our mental, emotional and physical well-being. We require food simply for survival, but for thousands of years, food has been used for so much more. From preventing and curing diseases to changing our moods and enhancing our performance, food is powerful stuff. Certain items have also been linked to romance, love and lust. The aphrodisiac properties of food are not well understood, but thought to be due to their unique nutrient and chemical profiles. For those of us looking to beef up the romance, we can turn to these foods to help spice things up.

green-969099_1280

Arugula is a leafy green vegetable with a robust peppery taste and also goes by the names garden rocket, rocket salad and just plain old rocket. It is eaten around the world, but in America, arugula is typically used in salads, pasta dishes and added on top of pizza. Arugula is one of the top 20 most nutrient-dense foods according to the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. What is a lesser-known tidbit of information about arugula is that Ancient Egyptians and Romans ate arugula to for its aphrodisiac effects. Could it be arugula’s high levels of naturally occurring nitrates, which help reduce blood pressure and allow blood to flow more freely with less resistance throughout the body? Could it be the increase of oxygen supplied to the muscles and cells around our body that could potentially improve performance? Perhaps it’s the abundance of vitamins and minerals that support heart and blood health? Regardless of the reason, now is the time to give this cruciferous pungent plant a go.

banana-5734_1280

Bananas are rich in B vitamins and the enzyme bromelain, which are both necessary for the production of testosterone. Bananas provide us with energy and are loaded with potassium, which is important for blood pressure and heart health. The B vitamins are also required for energy metabolism. The combination of blood-pumping benefits and energy-producing nutrients make bananas an easy and portable go-to love food. Not to mention, it’s phallic shape can definitely make you blush (or rethink how you eat bananas in public).

chocolate-183543_1280

Chocolate was revered by the ancient Aztec tribes as a food of the gods. For thousands of years, it has been touted as an aphrodisiac. Chocolate is stimulating and it contains a unique blend of characteristics from aroma and flavor to texture and even nutrient profile. The ability for chocolate to melt in your mouth is also thought to be extremely sensual. Chocolate may even increase serotonin levels, which boosts your mood to make you feel happy. This delicacy also contains phenylethylamine, which stimulates the central nervous system, boosts your mood and creates feelings of euphoria. To optimize the lusting effects of chocolate, choose products with at least 60 percent cocoa.

oyster-989179_1280

Oysters are probably the most well-known of the food aphrodisiacs. It is unlikely that their appearance promotes any feelings of lust, but their legend (and quite possibly their texture) may prove otherwise. Oysters are hard on the outside and soft and moist on the inside. There is also a potential danger surrounding the consumption of raw oysters that may contribute to the hype of their potential eroticism. The main nutrient that links oysters to sex is zinc. Zinc is a mineral that is necessary for the production of sex hormones. Most specifically, testosterone, which has been shown to help increase carnal appetite.

chillis-1189091_1280

Peppers contain compounds called capsaicinoids, which give peppers their heat and create the burning and tingling sensations that go along with it. Although science is not there to back up the aphrodisiac claims, chili peppers are known to increase heart rate, boost metabolism, promote perspiration and release endorphins, which mimics arousal and may increase feelings of pleasure. When looking to add a little heat, capsaicinoid-packed chili peppers may be just what the love doctor recommends … spicy.