Since the beginning of time, humans bestowed a reputation on some foods and drinks as making sex more attainable or more pleasurable. These are known as natural aphrodisiacs, substances that increase libido when consumed.

Ancient Greeks worshipped Dionysus, the god of the grape harvest, wine and wine-making, fertility and ritual madness. The Romans named him Bacchus, and Bacchic rituals were considered outrages against Rome’s civil and religious morals, as uninhibited men and women of all age and class indulged in a sexual frenzy several times each month.

Red wine is known to get blood pumping, and the avocado has had a reputation as a natural aphrodisiac since the Aztecs. But who knew pesto could offer pep? This pocket guide looks at some well known, and not so well known, natural aphrodisiacs.

One of the most notorious natural aphrodisiacs is oysters, which are high in zinc and have a reputation for sparking romance. Urban legend states that Casanova once seduced a virgin by sliding an oyster from his lips to hers. Zinc is an important mineral in the production of testosterone and sperm and contain dopamine, a chemical that triggers increased desire.

Next on our list is asparagus. Aside from its phallic shape, it contains high levels of potassium, linked to the production of sex hormones, and the vitamin E it contains can increase blood flow to the genitals.

Salmon is not just good for heart health with its omega-3 fatty acids, it also provides the building blocks for the production of oestrogen, testosterone and progesterone.

Chilli peppers not only look red hot, they stimulate nerve endings on your tongue which release adrenaline: your heart rate speeds up and you sweat, just as you do when aroused.

Since the Aztecs, avocados have been known as natural aphrodisiacs. It could be the sensuous shape or the rich flavour and creamy texture, but these pears also contain high levels of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B9, which provide energy and increase testosterone, and vitamin E for vigour. Incidentally, the Aztec word for avocado is ahuacatl, which means testicle.

Another sensual-looking sexual stimulant is the fig, high in amino acids which boost stamina and increase libido. Chocolate causes a spike in dopamine, which induces feelings of pleasure.

Bananas contain bromelain enzyme, which is believed to increase a man’s sex drive, as well as energy-giving potassium, riboflavin and vitamin B2.

The word honeymoon derives from mead, an alcoholic drink made from honey that was given to a new bride and groom. This liquid gold contains boron, which helps to regulate hormone levels as well as nitric oxide, which helps blood flow to all important areas.

Apples have also been associated with increased sex drive, and a study in 2014 suggested that an apple a day correlated with better quality sex lives of young women.

Strawberries are said to originate from the heart-shaped tears cried by Aphrodite when she learned her lover, Adonis, had died. They’re packed full of vitamin C which helps produce sex hormones and increase  libido, as are cherries, which also contain anthocyanins which help maintain a healthy sex drive.

Watermelon, reminiscent of summer flings, is high in citruline which increases the amount of nitric acid in the body, acting like a natural Viagra. Pomegranates are known to increase blood flow and some studies suggest that pomegranate juice may help with erectile dysfunction.

Nuts have long been symbols of fertility and they’re are full of fatty acids and energising zinc. The aroma of almonds is said to arouse passion in women.

There’s even scientific evidence to support the cliché of inviting someone up for coffee. The caffeine is a stimulant that increases the heart rate and makes blood flow, as well as increasing dopamine levels in the brain that stimulate desire and pleasure.

And on top of all this, it will keep you awake.

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