Do Aphrodisiacs Really Work?

I've already talked about bringing food into the bedroom here on Heart Attack and, for the record, I'm still against the idea of making Doritos part of your sexual routine – even if they're Cool Ranch. The whole subject of food and sex in tandem is still intriguing to me, though, especially when it comes to aphrodisiacs. Can food really make you want to get intimate? If so, what are those foods and can I buy them in bulk? For the answers to these questions, I turned to Linda De Villers, Ph.D., a licensed psychologist and certified diplomate in sex therapy who wrote the book Simple Sexy Food.

How did you get involved with studying aphrodisiacs?

As a lifelong foodie with hedonistic inclinations, I've always been interested in the relationship between food and sex. Not just how food can enhance a particular sexual experience but rather how eating well contributes to sexual health.

If I were to put together the sexiest meal ever, what would be on the menu?

First, my sexiest meal probably won't be your sexiest meal, because what makes a meal really sexy is tapping into personal turn-ons among the numerous aphrodisiac food choices. If I were trying to seduce my male partner I would start with my own recipe for Bagna Cauda. It's an Italian "hot bath" recipe that brews together oil, butter, garlic and, believe it or not, minced anchovies in a fondue pot. You dip your favorite raw veggies with an aphrodisiac reputation, such as asparagus, cherry tomatoes or zucchini into the pot, and use a piece of the bread like a napkin to catch the drippings.

For my main course I would serve surf and turf — both steak and lobster scored very high with men in my online Aphrodisiac Foods Survey. For dessert I would serve cherries, if in season. Of course, cherries lend themselves to feeding each other in sexy, playful ways. Champagne pairs well with all.

What are some things to avoid when mixing food and romance?

Overeating. The idea is to slow down and savor small morsels of food. Since your focus is on food and romance, I think all electronics should be turned off, with the exception of whatever device your music wafts from. On the more graphic down and dirty level: stick to chocolate sauce in oral orifices only. (Note from Jason: Now you tell me...)

How do you convince someone to use food as a sexual stimulant if they're opposed to the idea?

A beautifully prepared and served meal, complete with intimate connection, is a hard-to-resist seduction. I never claim any food is an automatic turn-on, any more than Viagra is an automatic turn-on. It takes opportunity and mindset, not just biology.

What's the most surprising aphrodisiac?

Romaine lettuce — it definitely caught me by surprise. It turns out that throughout history from ancient times to even the present, romaine lettuce has had aphrodisiac status because of the white fluid that is released when a very fresh leaf is first broken, reminiscent of semen. (Note from Jason: That's gross. No more Caesar salads for me.)

If I eat a thousand oysters, will it make me irresistible to women?

If you meant in one sitting, I'm afraid not. But you might want to consider competitive eating.

What advice would you give to someone just exploring the use of aphrodisiacs in their relationship?

Take a holistic approach and experiment. Pay attention to the sights, the sounds, the smells of the kitchen and the experience of choosing, preparing and serving the aphrodisiac foods. If you're looking for a jump-start, try one of the aphrodisiac drinks from my book — mixology makes for lots of fun and experimentation in the kitchen.

I'd like to thank Dr. De Villers for the in-depth aphrodisiac education. If anyone has experience using specific foods to get things rocking with their partner (Sour Patch Kids, pickled papaya, etc.) please share your secrets in the comments below.

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