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  • Writer's pictureIrene

Fanning the Flames of Romance with Food!

With love and romance high on the agenda this week, a trip to your local grocery shop could be the recipe for love you are looking for! While an active lifestyle, nutritious diet and self-confidence are the best routes to feeling sexy, there a few good foods that can give you the extra edge in the bedroom department!

Since ancient times men and women all over the world have been wolfing down copious amounts of aphrodisiac foods in the hope to boost their libido and enhance fertility. Named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, aphrodisiacs were originally used to cure impotency and infertility. Later, with the sexual revolution and less emphasis on producing offspring, the use of aphrodisiacs shifted to focus on libido, stamina and addressing impotency problems. However, many of the well-known aphrodisiac foods, such as oysters, asparagus, avocados and nuts gained their reputation because of their nutrient content rather than any physiological effect they may have on the male or female sex organs.

For men, zinc is vital to the prostate gland, a male reproductive organ whose main function is to secrete prostate fluid, one of the components of semen. The prostate contains the highest concentration of zinc in the body; it uses 10 times more zinc than any other organ. Zinc deficiency is commonly associated with prostate enlargement and researchers believe that a diet rich in zinc may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Zinc deficiency is widespread as over-farmed soil and food processing has depleted much of the zinc from our foods. Zinc is very much associated with protein foods such as beef, lamb, pumpkin seeds, poultry and seafood. Oysters, incidentally, are one of the richest sources of zinc so it is no wonder that they are at the top of the sexy food charts!

Chocolate is the undisputed food of love and as always, Mother Nature was right on the mark long before the Milk Tray man came along. Dark chocolate (above 72% cocoa) and cocoa are one of the most heart-friendly treats available. For centuries chocolate was consumed as a drink rather than a bar and was hailed as a "cure all" because of its restorative and life sustaining properties. More recently, studies have confirmed that dark chocolate and cocoa support the heart and the entire circulatory system due to its powerful antioxidant content. Compounds found in dark chocolate and cocoa can lower blood pressure, dilate arteries for increased blood flow as well as reduce the stickiness in blood. Chocolate comes from the cacoa bean - the seed of the cacoa tree. As with all things in Nature - the health benefits of chocolate are greater in foods closest to their origin. The therapeutic effects of chocolate are greatly reduced in processing - the added sugar, milk solids and other ingredients negate the health benefits of real chocolate. Ground cacoa bean powder and raw cacoa butter are also available in shops and make delicious treats when used in cooking.

Frisky fruits include pineapples, pomegranates, raspberries and strawberries which are rich in vitamin C. Vitamin C is essential for building collagen, a structural component of all tissues. No heart, blood vessel or any other organ could possibly function without collagen so for centuries, those lacking lustre in the bedroom department were often told to go home and have a fruit salad! The reputed claims of bananas and asparagus have as much to do with their suggestive shape as their nutrient content. These are rich in potassium and B vitamins, vital for energy, stamina and regulating blood pressure. Vitamin E and essential fatty acids are crucial to hormone production and healthy circulation so make room in your love cupboard for raw almonds, pumpkin seeds, avocados, sunflower seeds and olives.

If you are thinking of opening a nice bottle of Malbec on Valentine’s, the kettle might be a better bet as the secret to a hotter nightlife starts with a hot cup of tea. Green tea is rich in compounds called catechins, which can boost desire by promoting blood flow to your nether regions. Catechins kill off free radicals that damage and inflame blood vessels, increasing their ability to transport blood. Catechins also cause blood vessel cells to release nitric oxide, which increases the size of the blood vessels, leading to improved blood flow.

To knock the socks off your significant other, add aromatic flavours from garlic, ginger and basil to spice up more than your meal. Remarkably, celery, though not usually associated with romance, contains andresterone, which is the hormone that gives men a subtle smell, known to drive lovers wild! The aromas of almonds, rose and vanilla, often used in perfumes, mimic female pheromones and pair nicely with the dark chocolate. The old saying “the way to one’s heart is through the stomach” still rings true so throw on the apron, grab a spoon and cook up some real passion in the kitchen!

Happy Valentine's Day, folks x

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