Can tofu really spice up your sex life?

Lia Grainger
Shine On
November 23, 2012

Every day it seems there is a new study suggesting this or that food can either increase or decrease your sex drive. This time, it's soy.

A team of scientists from University of California at Berkeley spent 11 months studying a group of red colobus monkeys in Uganda, reports the Daily Mail. They noticed the monkeys that ate more of a plant containing estrogen-like hormones, similar to those found in soy, had the most sex.

They watched what the monkeys ate, and paid close attention to their behaviour — how much time they spent chasing and fighting, mating and grooming. They also collected stool samples and analyzed the hormone levels of the animals.

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The results, published in the journal Hormones and Behavior, reveal that the male monkeys that ate more leaves of a particular plant called Millettia dura, had elevated levels of estradiol and cortisol -- hormones respectively linked to sex and stress. The leaves they were eating contain estrogen-like compounds similar to those found in soy, which is what tofu is made from.

The scientists also found that the monkeys with the altered hormone levels spent more time having sex and less time grooming.

And baddabing! The "Tofu will spice up your sex" headline is born!

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Since it may be a bit of a streatch to compare this research to human behaviour, let us  listen wisely to the interpretation of the guy who actually did the research, grad student Michael Wasserman.

"By altering hormone levels and social behaviors important to reproduction and health, plants may have played a large role in the evolution of primate, including human, biology in ways that have been underappreciated," he says a press release.

Um, okay, so that's not as headline friendly as "Tofu will make you randy!", so we're just going to go with the latter. We're sure that PETA, with their recent promises that a vegetarian diet equals increased sexual virility, will also happily jump on the "monkey sex means humans should eat more tofu" bandwagon.

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