Placebos or actual stimulators of sexual performance and lust? We cannot give you the scientific verdict, but cultures all over the world have used aphrodisiacs for centuries - and we have a hard time believing that they have all been wrong. The scientific evidence is questioned, but if you ask us, some food is definitely sexier than others. We haven taken a look at some of the most popular aphrodisiacs, and on the way, found that many of them have very European dimensions! 

EROTIC edibles - foods for increased lust

Image: eszter (CC-BY-SA 2.0)

What happens when we are turned on and want to have sex? Boiling it down to science, it's a game of hormones and our brains. When we experience something arousing (which can be triggered by anything, such as a visual image, a touch, smell, sound, taste or thought), several processes start in our bodies. Our brain releases hormones such as dopamine and norepinephrine, which make us feel pleasure and excitement, and get our hearts racing. Our blood vessels dilate, resulting in our genitalia becoming erect. Having sex releases even more chemicals, such as oxytocin aka "the love hormone", which makes us feel oh-so-good. With this very simplified chemistry lesson behind us, we can take a look at what aphrodisiacs are said to do.

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Aphrodisiacs are elements that increase the desire for sex, be it foods, drinks, scents, music or anything else. They do this by increasing the blood flow in our bodies or stimulating the production of the hormones and chemicals involved with sexual desire. Although cultures all across the world have used aphrodisiacs to enhance their libido, there is no consensus amongst scientists as to whether aphrodisiacs actually do work.

However, placebo is a mighty drug in itself. Simply believing that something awakens the sexy beast inside us might just do the trick. Maybe it's just that we feel better when we've eaten something we like, that we feel sexier when we eat foods that we associate with sex, or that our inhibitions are lowered when we drink a little alcohol. Here is a list of treats for both tastebuds and libido.

Image: vincen-t (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Chocolate: Although cocoa did not originate in Europe, many people around the world indulge in fine Belgian and Swiss chocolate today. Apart from having suggested positive effects against heart disease, it also is one of the world's most popular aphrodisiacs due to its phenylethylamine content, which is the same chemical that is released in our bodies when we feel happy and euphoric.

Oysters: Ah the oyster, the king of aphrodisiacs. They are full of zinc, a mineral that is associated with increasing sex drive. In addition, oysters are said to resemble the vagina, maximising the sexual connotations associated with this marine mollusc. Plus, Europe is home to a smorgosbord of oysters - French, Swedish, British, Irish.

Image: Kevandy (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Champagne: Only produced in the region of Champagne in France, it is uncertain whether it is just the alcohol going straight to our heads or whether champagne really is an aphrodisiac, but this bubbly drink definitely feels sexy. 

Asparagus: Perhaps not the first thing you would associate with sex, but asparagus, which is thought to originate in ancient Egypt and adopted by both the ancient Greeks and Romans, is brimming with vitamin E. Vitamin E stimulates the production of testosterone, oestrogen and progesterone in our bodies, hormones that affect the swelling of the clitoris and lubrication of the vagina.

Why not cook asparagus for starters, and serve oysters for main and chocolate and champagne for dessert at your next sexual encounter? Try it, and let us know if it works!

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