Chocolates, oysters and wine are things of the past. If you are looking for something to spice up your meal this Valentine’s Day, why not choose a natural aphrodisiac as a sweet treat? Aphrodisiacs are named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. So if you are feeling adventurous, try these foods not only to stimulate the feel-good hormone, but also to boost energy, sharpen memory, and even fight flab.
Some say the forbidden fruit of the Bible was not an apple, but the more robust-looking pomegranate. In mythology, Aphrodite is credited with planting the first pomegranate tree. In addition, Hades, the god of the underworld, is said to have seduced the goddess of fertility, Persephone, with pomegranate seeds. A prominent player in aphrodisiac lore, these bright gems owe their passion power to antioxidants that support blood flow, and are also able to increase testosterone levels. These stunning seeds, high in vitamin C and potassium, and low in calories, also feature in sonnets by the likes of Shakespeare, besides finding mention in Homer.
This Valentine’s Day, add these ruby jewels of the Middle East to your dishes for a colourful splash. Add a splash of pomegranate juice to your cocktail to infuse the fruit’s uniquely sweet, acidic flavour, or try dropping a few of those seeds into a glass of champagne. If your night revolves around eating healthy, then garnish your salads with the kernels, or use the juice to add some zest to your dressings. You could also use them in a filling for stuffed dates, or add the seeds to a delectable dessert, and they’re even more appealing.
While arugula might not seem to be a likely aphrodisiac, its qualities have reportedly been noted since the first century A.D. Arugula, or the “rocket seed” was a popular aphrodisiac among the ancient Egyptians and Romans, and was associated with a lesser-known Roman god of fertility. For centuries, it has been used as a sensual enhancer in many regions of the world, and in ancient times, love potions were made using arugula and other herbs such as lavender and chicory. It was one of the prime herbs used to help with anxiety, fertility and performance; these dark, leafy greens contain trace minerals and antioxidants that block absorption of environmental contaminants thought to negatively impact the libido.
These peppery and slightly bitter oak-shaped leaves are rich in Vitamins A and C, and in iron, and apparently clear the mind while simultaneously increasing power and energy. Unusual for a leafy vegetable, arugula is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. This toasty, earthy-flavoured lettuce from the Mediterranean region is generally used in salads, but is also cooked as a vegetable with pastas or meats. But you don’t need to limit yourself to salads and pastas when it comes to arugula. Try adding arugula to pizzas, grains, sandwiches, wraps and soups, or blend it into a delicious spicy pesto!
High in energising zinc, which aids in both male and female potency, pine nuts have reportedly been used since the Middle Ages to stimulate libido. These nuts that contain the magic mineral have been used in medieval European love potions, and the history of pine nuts as an aphrodisiac is extensive. Second-century Arabian scholar Galen recommended a tonic of honey, almonds and one hundred pine nuts before going to bed. And the first-century Roman poet Ovid in his work The Art of Love selected ‘the nuts that the sharp-leafed pine brings forth’ as an effective and powerful aphrodisiac.
With their soft texture and sweet, buttery flavour, pine nuts are also a good source of thiamin, iron, magnesium, and manganese. They also can improve cardiovascular function which, when combined with increased testosterone production, can yield beneficial results in the bedroom. For a delicious Valentine’s meal, grind them up with some Parmesan, basil, garlic and olive oil for a delicious pesto. Add them to salads for a little crunch, or go for a pine nut cake for dessert.