More than chocolate can fan the flames of Valentine's Day romance. Strawberries, with the highest vitamin C content of all berries and only fruit to have seeds on the outside, also are thought to have aphrodisiac qualities.
Photo by Sue Ade/Morris News Ser
There's not a lot of scientific data to prove that certain foods contain aphrodisiac qualities, but you can't ignore the impact some foods have on those of us who believe in their magic.
Whether "deep, dark chocolate," "succulent strawberries," "juicy grapes" or "sweet oysters" is whispered in our ears, presented on a plate or pressed between parted lips, they all conjure up thoughts and feelings of pleasure.
My valentine, Mack, so believes in the magic that he brought me home a box of strawberries with a second layer of chocolate-champagne truffles hidden beneath the ripe, luscious berries.
Knowing how much I love culinary books, he also gave me a cookbook titled, "The New InterCourses: an Aphrodisiac Cookbook," by Martha Hopkins and Randall Lockridge. It's brimming with seductive recipes and amazing photographs of stunning bodies tastefully wearing beautiful food.
Some believe the link between "aphrodisiac" foods and the body is all in the mind, while others remain convinced the makeup of the food proves otherwise.
As an example, oysters, rich in protein and zinc, possess nutrients known to increase the sexual health of both men and women. And chocolate releases mood-lifting substances (phenylethylamine and serotonin) into the body's nervous system, the same chemicals let loose by the brain when we are feeling "in love."
Many other foods, some lesser known than others, are also considered aphrodisiacs, including: asparagus, artichokes and avocados; grapes, strawberries and figs; almonds, pine nuts and walnuts; black beans and chiles; honey and ginger; rosemary, basil and edible flowers; coffee and wine.
Whether the benefits of eating aphrodisiac foods are all in our heads or not, hopefully the end result will be the same for you and your own valentine.
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