Turns Out, Baked Beans May Be An Aphrodisiac

The word aphrodisiac, which refers to foods or drugs believed to stimulate sexual passion, is derived from the name of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite. Her Roman counterpart, Venus, is where the word venereal comes from, which also relates to erotic pleasure, as well as some of the potential unpleasant consequences. Food in particular has long intrigued mankind as a substance capable of inciting love and lust — therefore, it's not surprising that certain foods have been historically venerated (a word also derived from Venus) for being able to fan the flames of desire.

You may be familiar with foods commonly considered to be romantic — chocolate, strawberries, oysters, caviar, lobster, and champagne, to name a few. There's one addition to this list, however, which may have never crossed your mind as having to do with seduction — canned baked beans. Believe it or not, this sweet and savory dish has long been considered capable of boosting the libido. 

The American version, commonly referred to as Boston baked beans, is made with molasses or brown sugar, and often pork — while the British variety is less sweet and made with a vegetarian tomato base. They are both thought to be aphrodisiacs with the potential to make the heart, or more specifically the genitalia, go pitter-patter.

How amorous legumes got their randy reputation

While there's debate over whether aphrodisiacs are real or effective, there are some theories as to why, or if, they work. Perhaps the most obvious reason certain foods have come to be associated with lovemaking is their resemblance to the sex organs. Asparagus, carrots, and bananas have come to symbolize male vigor due to their shape, as have foods been likened to the female reproductive organs based on their analogous appearance, such as figs, artichokes, and clams. Then there's the king of libidinous foods, oysters. 

Among other things you probably didn't know about oysters is that they are high in zinc, which — aside from their suggestive appearance — might be the real reason they are considered an aphrodisiac. Baked beans are also a good source of zinc, which likely explains why they, too, are also associated with arousal. Zinc is closely tied to male sexuality and fertility, and deficiencies in this nutrient may decrease testosterone levels (via Healthline), in turn affecting both function and desire.

One cup of canned baked beans contains 5.8mg of zinc or 53% of the daily recommended value. While there is no concrete proof that the zinc found in beans (or oysters) has any impact on sexual performance, a small study published by the Journal of Human Reproductive Sciences showed that increasing the testosterone levels of male rats with zinc therapy improved their sexual competence.

The magical fruit

Beans have been linked with sexuality since at least the Renaissance when they were known as windy meats, an allusion to their flatulent nature. This same "wind" that causes beans to make you toot was believed to control how male sexual anatomy gets, well, animated. Air within the body from eating beans (gas) was believed to cause a male's member to inflate, making it possible for him to perform the act of reproduction — thus beans were used as a treatment for infertility. 

Things that make people happy can also help get them in the mood. Neurotransmitters nicknamed "happy hormones" — including dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and endorphins — can alter not only emotions but also promote feelings of desire (per the Cleveland Clinic). According to Healthline, eating a delicious meal has been linked to the release of dopamine.

Whether you're hoping to get busy in the bedroom or just want something tasty and platonic to eat, there are many ways to enjoy baked beans. In the United States, Bush's is the largest producer of canned baked beans, and its original flavor is made with slow-cooked navy beans (they're not actually baked!), bacon, and brown sugar. In the U.K., Heinz Co. dominates the market with its "beanz" — aka white beans in tomato sauce – where they are traditionally served on toast for breakfast. You can also cook up your own... Giada De Laurentiis' baked beans recipe is made especially sexy with her addition of beer and molasses.