Whether it’s your mom’s chicken soup when we’re sick or a heart shaped box of chocolates on Valentine’s day, it seems that human beings have associated food with love since the dawn of time. Cultures all over the world embrace sacred beliefs about the power of food to bring us romance, beauty, fertility and comfort.
This link is so strong that the very jargon and terminology associated with food conjure up thoughts of love and intimacy. For instance, “I’m taking her out to dinner” or “cooking a meal for two at home” imply a date or anticipation of time spent together.
Consider what goes on in your mind when you think of oysters, strawberries, wine or chocolate. Some of this foods are said to have, let’s just say, mood-enhancing properties. As a doctor trained in nutrition, I tend to look to science and fact to support any such myth. With insight and experience of my clinic’s resident dietician, I offer this short list of foods have properties that directly support good health and perhaps something more:
ASPARAGUS-Our love affair with this member of the Lily family dates back hundreds of years. In 19th century France, bridegrooms were served three courses of the sensuous spears at their prenuptial dinner. Asparagus is a great source of potassium, fiber, vitamin B6, vitamins A and C, thiamin and folic acid.
ALMONDS-Almonds were regarded as fertility symbols throughout the ages, are an excellent source of vitamin E magnesium and fiber. Research by The Smell and Taste and Treatment Foundation found that the aroma of almond arouses passion in females-while the smell of lavender, orange and pumpkin pie will do the same for males.
AVOCADO-In some cultures, avocados are seen as voluptuous and female shape. The creamy texture and high fat content make them indulgent and yet very healthy. Avocado is especially good for pregnant women for its high content of folic acid, as well as vitamin B6 and potassium.
BASIL-This fragrant member of the mint family has an alluring aroma; so alluring, in fact it can help soothe headaches. Its name is Greek, meaning “to be fragrant.” Basil has a warming effect on the body and promotes circulation. In some parts of Italy, a basil plant is given as a token of affection.
CHOCOLATE-Why does eating chocolate make us so happy? It’s a chemical thing. Chocolate contains theobromine that helps the brain produce the feel-good hormone, serotonin. Be sure to indulge in the dark variety-it contains antioxidants, whereas milk chocolate is just that: milk, trace amounts of cocoa and sugar.
EGGS-The egg is enjoying a strong comeback in the American diet. Eggs are high in B6 and B5, which help you balance hormone levels and fight stress. The egg is one of the most ancient symbols of a fruitful life, renewal and fertility.
VANILLA-Before a vanilla is even tasted its aroma triggers a relaxing response from the hypothalamus gland that controls memory and emotion. Don’t feel like baking it into something? Get the same effect by dropping a pod into bath water.
FIGS-Said to be Cleopatra’s favorite food, are high in natural and simple sugars, minerals and fiber. They contain moderately high levels of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper. Dried figs contain an impressive 250mg of calcium per 100g. A number of Asian and Mediterranean cultures associate figs with fertility.
OYSTERS-These mouthwatering mollusks are a classic aphrodisiac. They are very high in zinc, which promotes a natural increase of male hormone production and therefore, libido. Oysters contain omega-3 fatty acids and dopamine which help maintain brain function and mood. No wonder Casanova ate 50 raw oysters every day!