Valentine's Day is fast approaching and many couples could no doubt be looking to ramp up the romance by planning a meal with all the aphrodisiacs.
Named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, aphrodisiacs are said to increase libido, potency, and sexual pleasure.
"While research into the effects of aphrodisiac foods is minimal, the nutrients in certain foods have been shown to have a physiological effect that impacts sexual function," explains Kyle Crowley, a nutrition expert at Protein Works.
"The main benefits of the foods we know as aphrodisiacs are that they contribute to healthy blood flow and balance hormones, both useful in increasing libido."
As well as potentially giving your love life a boost, there's an additional bonus to serving up the foods of love in that many many of them are also great for your gut health.
"A key component that makes a lot of these so-called aphrodisiac foods good for gut health is fibre," explains Crowley.
"Adding fibre to your diet is essential for the health of the gut microbiome and the body's digestion. As well as fibre, foods containing prebiotics, lean proteins and antioxidants all help to improve gut health. The overall characteristic of these is that they work to improve digestive health.”
With that in mind here are some of the best aphrodisiacs, which could inject a little more romance and also have a positive impact on your gut.
Strawberries have to be up there as one of the most romantic fruits, with the red berries often coated in chocolate as a Valentine’s treat.
"Strawberries are a source of fibre, which is a great way to promote healthy digestion," explains Crowley. Studies have shown that strawberries can aid in reducing gut inflammation, specifically in people suffering from symptoms of IBS.
"Covering your strawberries in dark chocolate can also have extra benefits for the gut, with the sweet snack containing both high fibre and a number of antioxidants to help the gut lining."
Sure it makes your pee smell, but once you've got past that there are numerous gut health reasons to add asparagus to your Valentine's Day plate, regardless of its abilities to put you in the mood.
"Asparagus is not only delicious but also a great source of fibre, which plays an important role in digestion," Crowley explains. "The vegetable has a high nutritional value too, and its prebiotic properties work to feed good bacteria in the gut.”
Asparagus can also help to ensure you don't end your romantic meal feeling bloated. "Research has found that the vegetable may also help regulate the digestive system, thereby reducing inflammation and promoting repair," Crowley adds.
Spice up your love life in the kitchen as well as the bedroom this Valentine’s Day, by adding a touch of chilli to your plate.
"Not only does chilli act as an aphrodisiac, enhancing sensations and blood flow in the body, but it also benefits your gut," Crowley explains. "When consumed in moderation, chilli extract may improve gut health by increasing the number of good bacteria and in turn reducing the number of disease-causing bacteria."
Give your end-of-the-night cheeseboard an aphrodisiac upgrade by adding some delicious figs.
"Figs are full of fibre which provides the gut bacteria with prebiotics to feed on, improving digestive health," Crowley explains.
"Though these jammy fruits are incredibly more-ish when paired with your favourite cheese, be sure not to eat too many as figs have natural laxative properties."
Crowley notes that as there is little scientific evidence supporting the benefits of aphrodisiacs in food, it is worth consulting your doctor before making significant dietary changes to address sexual health concerns.
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