Medically reviewed by Angela Sheddan, FNP
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Are Oysters an aphrodisiac? 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!
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.
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!
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 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.
The scientists found that maca could help alleviate sexual dysfunction, with added potential benefits relating to libido.
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 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.
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.
If you are experiencing erectile dysfunction and aphrodisiac foods for men aren’t enough, you can connect with a healthcare professional online to discuss your options.