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Some foods are renowned for their ability to kindle our passions. An aphrodisiac is “any food or drug that arouses the sexual instinct, induces desire, and increases pleasure and performance,” says integrative dietitian Mary Purdy, MS, RDN. These are some of her favorites.

1) Chocolate

“The aphrodisiac qualities of chocolate can be attributed to the chemicals in it that stimulate the pleasure centers in our brains,” Purdy says.

It contains theobromine, which is a stimulant and vasodilator (increases blood flow); phenylethylamine, which stimulates the brain to release dopamine; and anandamide, which activates the brain’s pleasure receptors. No wonder we give boxes of chocolate for Valentine’s Day!

2) Oysters

Oysters are rich in vitamin B12, which increases energy. They’re the most abundant food source of zinc, which is a key player in testosterone and sperm production.

“Testosterone boosts libido in the fellas, but it also boosts libido in the ladies,” Purdy notes. In addition, there’s something evocative about slurping oysters from their shells — a tactile and sensual treat to share with your partner.

3) Honey

Hippocrates, the Greek father of modern medicine, reportedly prescribed honey to increase sexual vigor.

“Honey is rich in B vitamins, which support reproductive health and encourage virility. It also has an antioxidant called chrysin that promotes testosterone production, and a trace mineral called boron that helps with estrogen production,” Purdy says. (See “The Health Benefits of Real Honey” for more.)

4) Hot Peppers

“Some plants affect sexual arousal by increasing the blood flow to certain organs,” Purdy explains. Accordingly, the effects of eating foods like ginger, hot peppers, and warming spices can actually mimic our own stimulation response by getting the blood pumping. So, the next time you’re in the mood to spice things up in the bedroom, try adding a little heat in the kitchen. (See “How to Cook With Hot Peppers” for recipes, techniques, and kitchen tips.)

This was excerpted from “How to Use Nutrition to Improve Your Libido” which was published in Experience Life.

Mo Perry

Mo Perry is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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