Want Your Valentine's Day To Be Sexy, Try These Foods

February 09, 2023

Want Your Valentine's Day To Be Sexy, Try These Foods

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend a record-breaking $25.9B on the holiday this year, a 23% increase compared to 2022.

Originally published on Forbes.com.

Valentine’s Day is just a few days away, and if you want to make this year special here’s some foods that will elevate your Valentine’s Day beyond the flowers, a card and that heart shaped box of chocolates; although, chocolate is a very important ingredient for the day.

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers will spend a record-breaking $25.9B on the holiday this year, a 23% increase compared to 2022. That equates to more than the $175 per person that NRF reported for 2022 sales for the holiday. Prices for just about everything for Valentine’s are up, so it’s more important than ever to spend wisely, even on this special day that celebrates love – so think about how you can make this day even more special in the kitchen!

According to Lending Tree, people who spend the most on Valentine’s Day tend to be those early in their relationship and male. Those who have been in relationships for less than two years typically spend more than couples who have been together longer. It’s a day to impress and what better way than with those foods that might put your significant other in a more romantic mood?

We have all heard of aphrodisiac foods so what are they and where did the notion come from, and most importantly do they live up to their supposed reputations? The word aphrodisiac actually comes from the name Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, and although medical science has never substantiated claims that certain foods actually kindle desire, the belief in the power of aphrodisiac foods dates back to ancient times. Science is clear that increased blood flow and enhanced moods are brought on by some foods — and combined with the look, mouth feel and aroma of certain, have been used as aphrodisiacs throughout time.

Thousands of years ago, Egyptian priests were forbidden to eat onions. Onions? Were the authorities worried about bad breath in the palace? No, the pharaohs were concerned that the temptation for sex might become too great! One of the most celebrated aphrodisiacs, onions have been served to French newlyweds on the morning after their wedding night to restore their libidos and during the reign of the Pharaohs, so the Egyptian priests were prohibited from eating them as well as other religious sects. Folklore suggests that an aphrodisiac drink of onion juice when mixed with honey is the original Viagra. Onions contain the amino acid alliin, which when the onion is crushed and the plant tissue reacts, transforms it into allicin [which creates the onion aroma]. Onions also stimulate blood flow.

So let’s head to the supermarket and stock those kitchen shelves with some of our favorite food and beverages for that special celebration. Before you run to the store to make this year's Valentine's the most romantic ever, remember that most researchers who have looked into the romance-inducing qualities of various foods all agree on one thing: that the mind is the most powerful aphrodisiac.

Naughty ol’ chocolate
Ever wonder why Valentine's has become synonymous with chocolate? Well consider this: Chocolate is a source of quick energy and can even elevate some people’s moods. So start your Valentine’s dinner with a beautiful piece of chocolate. Chocolate contains two related alkaloid stimulants — theobromine and caffeine. It is also rich in PEA, or phenylethylamine, a naturally occurring compound that has effects similar to an amphetamine. While research hasn't proven that chocolate is a true aphrodisiac, many would suggest that being happier and in a better mood leads to better romance. Chocolate contains more antioxidants than red wine. The secret for passion is to combine the two. Try a glass of your favorite red wine with a bit of dark chocolate for a sensuous treat.

The most recent study, published in May 2006 in the Journal Sexual Medicine, looked specifically at women, who are thought to be more sensitive to the effects of chocolate. The researchers, from Italy, studied a random sample of 163 adult women with an average age of 35 and found no significant differences between reported rates of sexual arousal or distress among those who regularly consumed one serving of chocolate a day, those who consumed three or more servings or those who generally consumed none. The study relied on self-reports. But it reflected what many researchers believe: if chocolate has any aphrodisiac qualities, they are probably psychological, not physiological.

The ingredients for a potent love potion
Caffeine is a well-known stimulant that helps improve blood flow in both body and mind (but be careful, as too much caffeine, like alcohol, can also be a depressant). Vanilla, according to Mexican lore, is a powerful romance-enhancer. Legend has it that Xanat, the young daughter of the Mexican fertility goddess, transformed herself into a vanilla plant when thwarted in the desire to marry a mere human. As a vanilla plant, the tale goes, she would provide pleasure and happiness for evermore. Aromatic and seductive, the smell and flavor of vanilla is believed to increase feelings of lust. Some studies have shown that vanilla can raise levels of catecholamines, or adrenaline, in the blood.

What do figs, arugula and truffles have in common?
Figs have long been a symbol of love and fertility . (The breaking open of a fig and eating it in front of your lover is said to be a powerful erotic act, so be sure to eat figs with your fingers for the most sensuous effect.) Meanwhile, the musky scent of the truffle, the rarest of the fungi family, is said to stimulate us and to make our skin more sensitive to the touch. And arugula, the pungent salad green, is one of the first foods documented as an aphrodisiac (in the first century A.D.).

Groovy garlic
The ultimate aphrodisiac may just be the one that is the most surprising. Yes, GARLIC. Used for centuries in Europe and among the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Japanese, garlic was one of the most widespread aphrodisiac remedies. It is said to stimulate the secretion of gastric juices, thus aiding digestion and increasing the blood flow. Used for centuries in Europe and among the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Chinese and Japanese, garlic was one of the most widespread ancient aphrodisiac remedies. It stimulates the secretion of gastric juices, adding digestion and increases the blood flow.

Soothing Ginger 
Ginger helps soothe the stomach and for centuries in England, before modern day medicines, was used to help relieve menstrual cramping. Ginger wine was widely thought to be an aphrodisiac as it had the effect of relaxing the smooth muscles of the uterus and intestines. Ginger ale and candied ginger are also good folk cures for morning sickness.

The Greatness of Grapes
The Greek god Dionysus was the god of wine and the god of fertility and procreation — and even those unfermented grapes in your store’s produce department have stimulating properties. Many of the most romantic settings throughout history include feeding a lover individual grapes — and for the most intense relationships, peeling the skin off a grape was done not to enhance the grapes’ stimulating properties — but to show how much care and concern one partner had for the other.

Oooooh! Oysters…
Oysters get much of their love-enhancing reputation from their appearance and the mouth-feel of swallowing them whole. However, because they are rich in zinc and iron, there may well be some science behind the potency promise. Iron is known for its transport of oxygen through our systems, and zinc is an essential element for stimulating our metabolism, which in turn creates energy. Oysters contain on average 18 micrograms of Vitamin B12, another metabolism booster. (A word of caution: Shellfish spoils quickly, so be sure to buy oysters only if the shells are tightly closed. Oysters will show their freshness by "flinching" when you squeeze lemon juice on them. Also, the rule of only eating oysters in the months that contain the letter R is a good guide to follow — non R months mean warmer water temperature, which may promote bacterial growth. In addition, always buy fresh oysters from reputable retailers, and have them pack them in a plastic bag with ice for you to bring home.)

Lascivious Caviar
Caviar is from the Persian word khav-yar meaning cake of strength, because it was thought that caviar had restorative powers and the power to give one long life. Caviar is from the salted roe (eggs) of several species of sturgeon (it was originally prepared in China from carp eggs). A lot of the mystique of caviar’s aphrodisiac qualities might have more to do with its being an egg, and the way it’s served than anything else. Caviar, by the way, should be always refrigerated (never frozen) and always use pearl, glass or even plastic utensils. Silver, stainless steel or any other metal that easily oxidizes will impart a metallic taste. Caviar contains vitamins A, C, PP, B2, B6 and B12 and is low in fat and high in minerals, including zinc.

For those who just want to go out to celebrate
Restaurants often offer curated Valentine’s Day meals, which may be an enjoyable indulgence, but are often very overpriced. Get online and check before you make the reservation. Most major cities have local online listings for Valentine’s Day dinners; for example, here in Los Angeles Time Out has put together a list of the “best” spots with their prices (just do a search for your city name and add: best valentine’s day restaurant dinners). While the average price of a meal out depends quite heavily on location, the National Retail Federation estimated we Americans as a whole spent about $4.3 billion on dining out on Valentine’s Day 2022.

Before you run to the store or restaurant to make this year’s Valentine’s the most romantic ever, remember that most researchers who have looked into the aphrodisiac qualities of these and other foods all agree on one thing: that our mind is the most powerful aphrodisiac.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

According to Encyclopedia Britannica:

“The psychophysiological reaction that a well-prepared meal can have upon the human organism. The combination of the various sensuous reactions — the visual satisfaction of the sight of appetizing food, the olfactory stimulation of their pleasing smells and the tactile gratification afforded the oral mechanism by rich, savory dishes — tend to bring on a state of general euphoria conducive to sexual expression.”