From dipping strawberries in chocolate to shucking oysters, these date ideas will *seriously* turn up the heat.

Claire Harmeyer
May 21, 2021 @ 2:25 pm
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aphrodisiac foods
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Some dates are undeniably romantic: sunset dinners on the beach or drinks overlooking a city skyline—who isn't going to feel butterflies flutter around their stomach during these intimate moments? But do you know what can really crank the sensual energy up a notch on date night? Like, even more than a candlelit table for two near the ocean? Aphrodisiacs.

If you're thinking, "Aphro-huh?", let us explain.

What is an aphrodisiac?

The word "aphrodisiac" stems from Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and passion. And according to the FDA, an aphrodisiac is "any product that claims it will arouse or increase sexual desire, or that it will improve sexual performance." In layman's terms, aphrodisiacs turn you on, get you in the mood, skyrocket your horniness level, or amp up your orgasms. Count us in.

Aphrodisiacs can be scents, foods, or substances that get you going in those places—you know where we mean. But how do aphrodisiacs work their sexual magic? Doctors broke it down for us—and it turns out, the effect of aphrodisiacs is proven by science (but we'll still call them magical.)

How do aphrodisiacs work?

Both men and women have a hormone called oxytocin, which is commonly referred to as "the bonding hormone," because it's associated with childbirth and sex. "Oxytocin is involved with libido in several ways, eliciting sexual arousal and contributing to the culmination of pleasure, as it's released during orgasm for both men and women," nutritional psychiatrist, professional chef, and nutrition specialist Dr. Uma Naidoo tells HelloGiggles. "Giving both men and women extra oxytocin has been shown to heighten arousal while watching erotic films."

So, if you're wanting to get in the mood, amp up the oxytocin, stat. "While you can't get oxytocin directly from food, there are foods that can help you raise oxytocin levels," she explains. "Think extra dark chocolate and magnesium-rich foods like leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and unprocessed grains."

MD and consultant for Oh So Spotless Dr. Lizz Kinyua explains another aspect at play in our bodies when we eat aphrodisiacs. "Once ingested, aphrodisiacs promote relaxation of blood vessels, improving blood flow to the genitals," she says. "For example, Quercetin, which is found in berries and wine, has anti-inflammatory properties which lead to increased blood flow. Cocoa found in dark chocolate increases blood flow in the lower abdomen and pelvic region."

So, what foods are aphrodisiacs?

aphrodisiac foods
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Although oysters are undeniably one of the most well known aphrodisiac foods, if the salty, slurpy seafood doesn't appeal to you, don't fret. There are tons of common aphrodisiac foods out there; in fact, you probably already eat some of them unknowingly. Below, Dr. Naidoo and Dr. Kinyua list popular aphrodisiac foods.

Aphrodisiac foods:

  • Oysters
  • Strawberries
  • Dark chocolate
  • Red wine
  • Champagne
  • Coffee
  • Pistachios
  • Papaya
  • Honey
  • Chili peppers
  • Ginger

Date ideas with aphrodisiac foods:

If you're looking to spice things up with a partner, look no further than adding aphrodisiacs to your date nights. Aside from spritzing an aphrodisiac scent before date night (which is sure to turn your partner on), try incorporating these aphrodisiac foods on your next date, too. Your sex life will thank you.

1. Go to an oyster bar.

aphrodisiac foods
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Oyster bars are sleek, sophisticated, and yes—sexy. Particularly if you live on the East Coast, oyster bars seem to be on every other block, and typically have great happy hour deals. Order up a platter of oysters on ice and get to slurping the slippery aphrodisiacs down. Plus, pop a bottle of bubbly, which pairs well with oysters (and is an aphrodisiac on its own).

If you're new to oyster culture, watch a YouTube tutorial first so you can impress your date.

2. Dip strawberries in chocolate.

Kill two birds with one stone by dipping fresh strawberries (aphrodisiac #1) in dark chocolate (aphrodisiac #2) at home. The activity is romantic regardless, particularly when you and your boo feed them to each other after the chocolate has hardened. (It won't be the only thing that's hard, TBH.)

3. Pack a picnic filled with aphrodisiac foods.

aphrodisiac foods
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You can never go wrong with a picnic date during the spring and summer. If you're hoping for a post-picnic party (the sexual kind), pack your basket with multiple aphrodisiac foods. Okay, we're not saying stuff your cooler with a full tray of oysters, but opt for aphrodisiac foods that are already picnic staples, like apples, celery, almonds, and watermelon.

"In 2014, a research team enrolled several hundred Italian women in a study to see if eating an apple a day affected the sex lives of healthy, young, sexually active women," Dr. Naidoo shares. "Around half of the women reported regular daily apple intake while the other half did not consume apples regularly. The study determined that women in the apple group had significantly better overall sexual function and lubrication scores than those who didn't eat apples."

You know what they say: An apple a day keeps the doctor away. (And apparently also keeps the sex coming.)

4. Visit a winery.

aphrodisiac foods
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You could argue that alcohol is an aphrodisiac in its own right, since it tends to make us feel looser and, ahem, hornier. However, red wine in particular is an aphrodisiac, so go all out and visit a winery, soaking up the romantic views. Or, get straight to the point and share a bottle with your boo somewhere you can get down to business.

5. Share a cup of coffee.

This is perhaps the simplest date idea but can be one of the most romantic. Who doesn't love breakfast in bed? Drink some coffee with your partner in the morning, and you won't want to slip out of the covers for a while. Or, cap off your night with coffee and dessert (before the real treat at home).

"Research on coffee has shown that caffeine intake reduced the odds of erectile dysfunction, especially when subjects drank approximately two to three daily cups of coffee (170 to 375 milligrams of caffeine per day)," Dr. Naidoo says. "Another study demonstrated that 100 milligrams of caffeine prior to intercourse improved sexual satisfaction." Bottoms up!