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Whether you’re in the mood already and just want to explore, or you’re not quite there yet and want to give yourself an added boost, natural aphrodisiacs (AKA, a food or scent that enhances sexual arousal, pleasure, libido, or performance) are a beautiful way to add a bit of a delicious, sensual kick to your sexual health and pleasure routines. The word aphrodisiac comes from the Greek name Aphrodite, after all — the ancient goddess of love and beauty.

But what are some of these famously pleasure-inducing ingredients, and what do they actually do? If you want to know a few of our favorite aphrodisiacs, plus a bit of the science — and lore! — behind them, keep reading. 

  1. CACAO:

    Perhaps the most famous of all aphrodisiacs, cacao has a long, rich, and godly history of worship and luxury. Ancient Mesoamericans believed it to be the food of the gods, and they were likely the first culture on record to draw an established line between sexuality and the consumption of chocolate. And they were right, according to modern science — cacao contains the chemicals tryptophan, a serotonin precursor, and phenylethylamine, a stimulant released when people fall in love.

 

  1. OYSTERS:

    Oysters, another well-known aphrodisiac, are uniquely high in zinc, a nutrient that’s great for a number of pieces, parts, and systems of the body, sexual health included. Zinc has been linked to healthy testosterone — which helps boost libido in men and women – as well as high sperm count in men. So, in some relationships, if you’re trying to get pregnant, oysters could be your friend.

 

  1. MACA:

    Maca, a superfood indigenous to Peru, has been cultivated and consumed by Peruvians for energy and fertility purposes for several thousands of years, while some modern Western studies have linked the plant to revved-up libido and high sperm count.

 

  1. GINSENG:

    A major staple in Chinese medicine cabinets, ginseng has been used for its libido-boosting power for centuries. More recent studies, confirming that centuries-long tradition, have shown that ginseng works with the central nervous system, assisting vasodilation — that is, the process in which blood vessels relax — and really, just helps your body find a calmer, more tranquil state of being. To that point: we can probably all agree that feeling relaxed and present is an important part of truly finding and living in a state of pleasure and arousal.

 

  1. FIGS:

    A perhaps unsurprising addition to this list, given their undeniably sensual feel, taste, and appearance, figs contain sex hormone-supporting amino acids believed to regulate and boost sexual drive and stamina. Plus, again, they’re just a very sexy fruit.

 

  1. HONEY:

    Honey, nature’s gift that just keeps on giving. Widely used for pretty much everything from immunity, to skin, hair, and bodycare, to wound-healing, and more, honey is also believed to provide hormonal support, specifically for libido-regulating hormones estrogen and testosterone. It also supports blood flow, an essential physical component of sex and pleasure.

 

  1. SAFFRON:

    Last but certainly not least, saffron, historically used throughout parts of the Mediterranean, Asia, and the Middle East, is a well-regarded superfood that’s been linked to sex, sexuality, and sensuality for centuries. More recently, Western science has connected the consumption of saffron to sexual pleasure and desire, the ability to reach orgasm, and more.

 

Of course, these are only a few of the many aphrodisiacs out there, but some of our favorites nonetheless. Maybe make yourself a sexy, sensual saffron-honey beverage or dessert, or maybe have some figs and chocolate before a date — with someone else, or with yourself. Enjoy, be present, and explore.

 

This article is by Maggie Harrison-- a rural Pennsylvania-raised, currently New Orleans-based writer and creative whose work covers everything from wellness to social media to grief and loss. Head to her website to learn more about her work, or follow along on Instagram or Twitter.

  

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