5 Aphrodisiac Foods to Fall in Love With
Whether you believe the hype or not, these foods certainly make date night delicious!
PeachDish nutritionist Katie explores the wonderful world of aphrodisiacs in this episode of PeachDishcovery
If you're anything like us, coupling food with love is a no-brainer. Named after Aphrodite, the goddess of love herself, foods can be classified as "aphrodisiacs" for several reasons: they can boost energy, encourage blood circulation, trigger the release of endorphins, affect hormone production and promote a general feeling of happiness and wellbeing. The belief in certain foods to have the ability to enhance romance can be traced back to early civilizations, a time where there was likely a higher pressure for procreation either from a religious or social side. It's certainly true that specific compounds and nutrients play a role in energy metabolism, blood circulation and neurological function, and many modern scientists have set out to explore the efficacy of foods for a healthy love life. In general, the studies have come up scant on evidence for any romantic benefits, but perhaps Virginia Woolf states it best with "One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well". In any case, here are five "aphrodisiac" food we've fallen for:
The spiciness in chili peppers comes from capsaicin, a naturally occurring compound that the plant produces to ward off insects and animals. As it turns out, many of us like the heat - in fact, the burning sensation from eating spicy foods triggers a release of neurotransmitters like dopamine, which is responsible for your sense of reward and pleasure. Additionally, the heat from capsaicin triggers the release of epinephrine, which results in elevated heart rate and an increase in circulation. It's worth noting that mild peppers lack capsaicin, but like all peppers, are one of the best sources of vitamin C, an antioxidant that has been shown to have a positive effect on blood circulation. Coupled together, you're armed with the feel-good energy to dance the night away with your sweetheart!
Ancient Romans believed this spicy green to be a powerful aphrodisiac, using it in love potions and consecrating it to Priapus, a minor god of fertility. While arugula, also called rocket, doesn't exactly have the romantic power of say, Cupid's arrow, it does contain several nutrients that will do your body good. It's high in vitamins C, K and carotenoids, as well as magnesium, zinc and potassium. As a cruciferous vegetable, like broccoli or kale, it contains glucosinolates, which are sulfur-containing compounds that benefit your immune system and help prevent cancer. One our favorite things about arugula is how well it pairs with Filet Mignon!
The heart wants what the heart wants... and it wants to be healthy! It's no coincidence that Valentine's Day falls in American Heart Month. Among the major ways to boost your heart health (like not smoking and exercising regularly) is incorporating omega-3 rich foods, like salmon, into your diet! While replacing saturated for unsaturated fats in your diet generally promotes healthy cholesterol levels, omega-3s in particular have an anti-inflammatory effect, which further reduces the risk for heart attack or stroke. Furthermore, omega-3 fatty acids help the brain to produce serotonin, which may explain why scientific studies have shown that consuming more of it can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve cognition. Aphrodisiac? If it means that we should enjoy more salmon for dinner, then yes!
Is there anything garlic can't do? While its pungent aroma may not be the most charming, garlic has a flavor that's bold, spicy and savory and comes with plethora of nutritional benefits. Allicin is the major active compound in garlic and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-mutagenic, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal properties, and positively affects the immune and cardiovascular system. Indeed, cooking and consuming garlic with your loved one regularly will certainly benefit your health, if not your romance as well!
Chocolate makes you happy, not just emotionally, but on a chemical level; the compound phenylethylamine found in chocolate is often called the "love-drug" because it helps to stimulate the release production of endorphins, specifically dopamine. Another endorphin, Serotonin, is present in dark chocolate along with its precursors; it plays a key role in appetite and sleep cycles, and positively impacts mood and happiness. The combination of theobromine, a weak stimulant, and caffeine also work to boost positive mood and energy while increasing your heart rate and blood flow. All chemical compounds aside, the combination of fat and sugar in chocolate is attractive and deeply satisfying to the human palate, and the act of quenching your craving with a bite of chocolate is enough to put us in a happy place. Don't believe us? Try Kathleen McDaniel's Flourless Chocolate Cake... you're sure to feel a jump of joy.
Psst- remember to order your 3-course Date Night meal kits by Sunday, February 10th at midnight. Enjoy it just in time for Valentine's Day!