“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” – Virginia Woolf
They say that red is the colour of love and food is no exception.
The word aphrodisiac goes back to Greek mythology where Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love was said to plant the first pomegranate tree; the multiple seeds of its fruit a symbol of fertility. Researchers have since shown that eating pomegranate lowers cortisol levels for men and women (the equivalent of increasing one’s testosterone levels).
Other edible aphrodisiacs include beetroot which contains greater levels of boron than other vegetables which increases the level of sexual hormones in the body, chillies, which increase your endorphin levels and heart rate and watermelon which widens blood vessels and improves circulation (we say no more).
Recipe Tip: Beetroot and Watermelon Salad with Feta, Mixed Seeds and a Drizzle of Balsamic Vinegar
Of course the one that cannot be forgotten is chocolate. The Aztecs and Maya believed greatly in the power of chocolate and its sexually stimulating properties, and Montezuma was said to drink 50 cups a day to maintain his sexual prowess. Chocolate contains flavonoids, an antioxidant also found in wine and green tea; the darker the chocolate the better. The chemical phenyl ethylamine (PEA) found in chocolate is said to have similar effects to marijuana on the brain and this is the chemical which women crave because it releases pleasure sensors in the brain.
Recipe Tip: Chilli Chocolate-dipped strawberries
Strawberries as a symbol of Venus have gained a reputation for their aphrodisiac qualities. Their red colour, heart-like shape and multiple seeds have been emblematic of love for centuries. However, that is where the science behind this fruit ends, although their high vitamin and fructose levels will increase energy levels.
With chocolate as the penultimate aphrodisiac, Champagne (and other sparkling wine) tops the list. Above all Champagne is a symbol of celebration, packed with antioxidants, and minerals such as potassium, zinc and magnesium which are needed to stimulate hormone production. Its effervescence has been widely reported to cause alcohol levels in the blood to increase more rapidly than other alcoholic beverages, thus making the consumer tipsier quicker. The bubbles have also been reported to tickle one’s nose as it is consumed, elevating the mood of the party; and its scent is said to replicate those of female pheromones…
Recipe Tip: A glass of sparkling wine, with a dash of pomegranate juice and a light squeeze of lime juice
Drink sir, is a great provoker of three things….nose painting, sleep and urine. Lechery, sir, it provokes, and unprovokes; it provokes the desire but takes away the performance. – Shakespeare (Macbeth: Act 2, Scene 3)