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9 Natural Aphrodisiac Foods

Angela Sheddan

Medically reviewed by Angela Sheddan

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 10/14/2021

Sex, love and passion have always been a secret (or not-so-secret) desire of many throughout history. 

Even the word aphrodisiac has its own ancient ties — originally relating to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess associated with love.

Now of course the word relates to a drug or food that excites sexual desire

And the thing is, while the quest for sexual arousal dates way back through time, some aphrodisiacs can be found in your own kitchen.

Here are nine aphrodisiac foods to try.

Historical Treats

It’s only right to start from the beginning, and list some aphrodisiacs from the past. 

Although this group of aphrodisiacs doesn’t have science-backed research relating to sexual desire, the following items have been used throughout history as ways to spice things up. 

Honey 

Remember the saying: the birds and the bees

For some cultures throughout history, it was really about honey followed by sex. Some historians think Hippocrates used to prescribe honey for sexual vigor — an assumption gleaned from the fact honey was used to treat wounds and other ailments. 

Although no research shows honey to be an aphrodisiac, honey does have many health qualities and contains nitric oxide, which some believe boosts blood flow. 

Chocolate 

Maybe there is a reason all of us love chocolate on Valentine's Day! 

Mayans used chocolate to promote sexual desire and believed chocolate to have certain “powers.” 

But scientists today believe the aphrodisiac quality of chocolate may potentially come from an acid called N-acylethanolamine. 

However, evidence is inconclusive on whether this actually impacts sexuality.  

Sexy Food

Another category you may want to consider on your quest for aphrodisiacs is what some call the sexy food category — which is really just food that might resemble sex organs. 


The items in this category also don’t have research to back them, though perhaps a placebo effect could come into play. 

Oyster

Although no scientists have found a direct link to oysters and sex drive, there might be something just sexy about oysters.  

It might be how they look or feel — which relates to sensory benefits. 

If eating oysters turns on your senses, then that might just do it!

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Banana 

Bananas are high in fiber and potassium. And potassium specifically can help lower your blood pressure which might improve blood flow to sexual parts and enhance sexual performance. 

Pomegranate 

Pomegranates and pomegranate juice have health properties rich with nutrients that can help improve your overall mood and blood flow. 

Both are elements that could help you feel sexier and more turned on in bed! 

Science-Backed Spices and Herbs 

This final category is the closest we have to true aphrodisiacs. Although research is still evolving, these three aphrodisiac food items have some studies behind them suggesting their sexy impact.  

Maca 

Maca is a plant native to Peru that was traditionally used for nutritional and medicinal purposes. 

Even by the 1950s a scientist named Chacon reported Maca’s fertility-enhancing properties in mice. 

Fast forward to 2008: A group of researchers conducted a smaller study to test maca’s impact on those experiencing sexual dysfunction caused by antidepressants. 

The scientists found that maca could help alleviate sexual dysfunction, with added potential benefits relating to libido. 

Saffron 

Saffron is a strong-smelling spice that originates from Iran. 

Saffron has also been tested among those on antidepressants. 

In two separate studies, one among a small group of males, and one among a small of females,  saffron produced favorable results: It was shown to help males with erectile dysfunction due to antidepressants and improve arousal, lubrication and pain problems for women due to antidepressants. 

While the results are encouraging, it's important to note the studies were small and targeted to those with depression. 

Ginseng 

Ginseng is a root that grows in East Asia that has been used throughout history for its medicinal properties. 

Most recently, scientists have been researching ginseng’s impact on erectile dysfunction (ED). In one study, the ginseng berry was tested among a group with ED and was found to improve all domains of sexual function. 

In another study, Korean red ginseng showed encouraging (although inconclusive) results that it improves erectile dysfunction. 

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Your Favorite Aphrodisiac Foods

They say the way to the heart is through the stomach, and ultimately, the aphrodisiac of your choice will depend on what matters most to you. 

A healthy libido for you might be found in one of these foods, in ed medication (like Viagra or sildenafil), or something else entirely. Good lighting and soft sheets can also have their place. 

If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction and aphrodisiac foods aren’t enough, you can connect with a healthcare professional online to discuss your options. 

12 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Online Etymology Dicitonary. (2021). Aphrodisiac. Douglas Harper. Retrieved from: https://www.etymonline.com/word/aphrodisiac
  2. Samarghandian, S., Farkhondeh, T., & Samini, F. (2017). Honey and Health: A Review of Recent Clinical Research. Pharmacognosy research, 9(2), 121–127. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8490.204647
  3. Rupp, R. (2014, May 13). This veggie was the 19th-century version of viagra. National Geographic. Retrieved from: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/culture/article/asparagus-vegetable-version-viagra
  4. Montagna, M. T., Diella, G., Triggiano, F., Caponio, G. R., De Giglio, O., Caggiano, G., Di Ciaula, A., & Portincasa, P. (2019). Chocolate, "Food of the Gods": History, Science, and Human Health. International journal of environmental research and public health, 16(24), 4960. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244960
  5. Zhong, S., Pinto, J. M., Wroblewski, K. E., & McClintock, M. K. (2018). Sensory Dysfunction and Sexuality in the U.S. Population of Older Adults. The journal of sexual medicine, 15(4), 502–509. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.01.021
  6. Haddy FJ, Vanhoutte PM, Feletou M. Role of potassium in regulating blood flow and blood pressure. Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2006 Mar;290(3):R546-52. Retrieved from: doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00491.2005. PMID: 16467502.
  7. Roelofs, E. J., Smith-Ryan, A. E., Trexler, E. T., Hirsch, K. R., & Mock, M. G. (2017). Effects of pomegranate extract on blood flow and vessel diameter after high-intensity exercise in young, healthy adults. European journal of sport science, 17(3), 317–325. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1080/17461391.2016.1230892
  8. Dording, C.M., Fisher, L., Papakostas, G., Farabaugh, A., Sonawalla, S., Fava, M. and Mischoulon, D. (2008), A Double-Blind, Randomized, Pilot Dose-Finding Study of Maca Root (L. Meyenii) for the Management of SSRI-Induced Sexual Dysfunction. CNS Neuroscience & Therapeutics, 14: 182-191. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1755-5949.2008.00052.x
  9. Modabbernia A, Sohrabi H, Nasehi AA, Raisi F, Saroukhani S, Jamshidi A, Tabrizi M, Ashrafi M, Akhondzadeh S. Effect of saffron on fluoxetine-induced sexual impairment in men: randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2012 Oct;223(4):381-8. Retrieved from: doi: 10.1007/s00213-012-2729-6. Epub 2012 May 3. PMID: 22552758.
  10. Kashani L, Raisi F, Saroukhani S, Sohrabi H, Modabbernia A, Nasehi AA, Jamshidi A, Ashrafi M, Mansouri P, Ghaeli P, Akhondzadeh S. Saffron for treatment of fluoxetine-induced sexual dysfunction in women: randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study. Hum Psychopharmacol. 2013 Jan;28(1):54-60. Retrieved from: doi: 10.1002/hup.2282. Epub 2012 Dec 20. PMID: 23280545.
  11. Choi, Y., Park, C., Jang, J. et al. Effects of Korean ginseng berry extract on sexual function in men with erectile dysfunction: a multicenter, placebo-controlled, double-blind clinical study. Int J Impot Res 25, 45–50 (2013). Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1038/ijir.2012.45
  12. Jang, D. J., Lee, M. S., Shin, B. C., Lee, Y. C., & Ernst, E. (2008). Red ginseng for treating erectile dysfunction: a systematic review. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 66(4), 444–450. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2125.2008.03236.x
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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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