Special for DiettoGo.com
by Susan Burke March, MS, RD, LD/N, CDE
Author of Making Weight Control Second Nature
Are you looking for love in all the wrong places? If it's food for love and sexual desire, your corner Italian bistro is your best bet. Select these foods, some red wine, definitely some soft lighting, and perhaps a misty rain and voila... romance is on the menu.
An aphrodisiac is a food, drink, drug, scent, or device that can arouse or increase sexual desire, or libido. When looking at the list of foods that have traditionally been considered "foods of love, it's apparent that traditionally Italians enjoy these foods on a daily basis. In additional to the potency potential, these foods are delicioso!
There is often some science lurking behind every old wives' tale. Eating these foods regularly won't necessarily make you a Casanova, but you'll surely benefit from the good nutrition. Come to the table with a firm and toned body, and that will also enhance desire, for both parties. Mangia!
Tomatoes are known as "The Apples of Love" in French, and if heart health is a turn on, tomatoes are the ultimate aphrodisiac. Tomatoes contain antioxidant vitamins A and C, plus lycopene, which is enhanced when the tomatoes are cooked, as in marinara sauce. Italians have a special touch with tomatoes.
The ancient Greeks, Romans, Chinese and just about every culture has considered garlic an indispensable part of their cuisines. The active ingredient, allicin, is a powerful antioxidant, contributing to bacterial and viral protection. Although the Greeks considered garlic an aphrodisiac, garlic's ability to excite food flavors can certainly be considered a lifestyle enhancer. Don't eat it raw, it will undo all the romance.
Spicy foods are thought aphrodisiacs because they increase body heat and heart rate, somewhat to similar to what happens in the bedroom (we hope!) Chilies contain capsaicin, good for lowering high blood-pressure, and are high in vitamins A and C, and bioflavinoids (all necessary nutrients for healthy cell growth). Order Fra Diavalo...that means "spicy" in Italian.
The Romans used basil, a fragrant member of the mint family, to symbolize love. The Greeks used it to ease nervous tension and cure headaches (no doubt important before making love). The Italians still consider basil a token of love. Combine basil leaves, pine nuts, (see below) and olive oil, and you have lovely pesto, delicious on pasta.
These little seeds, found in pine cones, in ancient times were prescribed to increase male fertility. While there is no scientific evidence that pine nuts increase libido for men and women, they are a good source of zinc, which, like oysters, is linked to male sexual potency; what's good for one is great for the other.
Ancient Romans and Greeks prized oysters as an aphrodisiac, possibly because of their high zinc content, related to the production of testosterone for men. Oysters are good source of protein and are very low in fat, and a good source of calcium, vitamin B12, iron, and copper. Order Cioppino, the Italian fish stew made with fresh tomato sauce, which traditionally contains oysters.
Besides the sweet and soothing, silky and creamy texture that so delights the palette and improves mood, chocolate contains favonoids and other chemicals that helps keep the heart healthy; some research shows a correlation between satisfying sex and enjoyment of chocolate.
A perfect accompaniment to your Italian dinner, but remember... more is not better. For most, a glass of wine enhances the experience, but too much has the opposite effect. Wine aids digestion, can stimulate the appetite, and has antioxidant and heart-healthy properties.
Susan Burke March is a dynamic speaker, accomplished author, enthusiastic media representative, and committed professional counselor dedicated to helping people learn strategies to improve their health and accomplish their weight goals. Susan is the author of Making Weight Control Second Nature: Living Thin Naturally, eDiets Pocket Guide of Dieting & Weight Loss, eDiets Dining Out Guide, as well a contributing author for the eDiets Weight Loss Solutions magazine.