Champagne, chocolate and oysters among the popular Valentine's Day aphrodisiacs. Which ones really work?

With love in the air, you might be looking for some foods to get you into the Valentine's Day mood faster. Champagne, chocolate, strawberries, pomegranates and oysters are among the most popular aphrodisiacs. But does it really work? Yahoo Life tried to answer the question with the help of experts.

Champagne is associated with romance. PHOTO Shutterstock

Over the centuries, many foods and herbs have been promoted as natural aphrodisiacs, believed to increase sexual desire, arousal or pleasure.

The main ways aphrodisiacs work are by increasing blood flow, balancing sex hormones and strengthening blood vessel walls, Lisa Davis, host and producer of the Health Power podcast and author of the book, explains to Yahoo Life Sensual Superfoods and Aphrodisiac Practices for Ultimate Sexual Health and Connection.”

However, research findings on the power of aphrodisiacs are divided.

“While some people may experience increased arousal or libido after consuming certain aphrodisiacs, their effectiveness is often subjective and influenced by factors such as the placebo effect, psychological thoughts and behaviors, and variations in individuals' physical reactions.”Julie Pace, a registered dietitian specializing in functional nutrition for women, tells Yahoo Life.

Do aphrodisiacs work?

According to the specialist, sexual desire is complex and can be influenced by numerous factors, beyond food choices or herbal supplements.

“Other factors such as stress levels, medical conditions, hormone levels, individual preferences and intimacy with a partner can impact sexual desire more than any potential aphrodisiac” explains Julie Pace.

Lisa Davis recommends including foods rich in antioxidants, flavonoids, nitric oxide, zinc, magnesium and healthy fats in your daily diet for sexual health.

What experts and science say about the most popular aphrodisiacs

The recommendation is based on the fact that antioxidants can increase testosterone, which is vital for sex drive and sperm production in men and plays a role in influencing mood and libido in women, while diets too low in fat can actually to lower testosterone levels in men.

Also, flavonoids and nitric oxide, with a neurotransmitter role, help to relax blood vessels and increase blood flow, increasing the chances of arousal.

Lisa Davis says that if you want aphrodisiacs to make a difference in your sex life, you need to incorporate them into your diet regularly, not just on Valentine's Day, but she says it doesn't hurt to have fun and add them to a romantic meal, occasionally.

The oysters

Oysters are probably the best known aphrodisiac. They are rich in zinc, which helps balance sex hormones, supports both sperm and testosterone production, and keeps the prostate healthy. In postmenopausal women, zinc has been associated with improved sexual function, desire, and satisfaction.

PHOTO Shutterstock

PHOTO Shutterstock


Chocolate seems to be the ultimate romantic food, if we go by sales. It's full of nutrients, including antioxidants, flavonoids, and phenylethylamine, a chemical that boosts serotonin (known to increase sexual pleasure) and endorphins.

However, research remains limited in supporting sexual arousal.

One study even found that women who ate more chocolate reported less interest in sex, possibly because chocolate satisfies their need for sex.

If you still want to try chocolate as an aphrodisiac, Davis recommends choosing dark chocolate with at least 70 percent cocoa for the most benefits.


Strawberries are often associated with romance.

Vitamin C, which they contain in abundance, helps increase blood flow for heart health and sexual arousal. Strawberries are also full of antioxidants and magnesium.

Champagne and wine

Champagne and wine are often associated with romance. And indeed, moderate alcohol consumption has been linked to feelings of arousal. But while alcohol can help you feel relaxed and more confident, too much alcohol has been associated with decreased sexual function and more difficulty reaching orgasm, especially for women.


Figs are rich in flavonoids, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, but they are also rich in magnesium and essential amino acids, both of which are linked to the production of sex hormones and improved circulation.

In addition, magnesium is known to help reduce anxiety and help improve sleep, leaving you more rested and relaxed.


Some research shows that honey can increase testosterone levels and reduce oxidative stress, which can damage cells and tissues, in men.

Hot pepper

The capsaicin in chili peppers may help increase libido because it improves blood circulation throughout the body, although there isn't enough research to support claims that it improves erections and orgasms.

The capsaicin contained in hot peppers can help increase libido.  PHOTO Shutterstock

The capsaicin contained in hot peppers can help increase libido. PHOTO Shutterstock

The apples

A study of more than 700 Italian women between the ages of 18 and 43 concluded that those who ate an apple daily reported higher levels of sexual function and lubrication than those who did not eat apples regularly. .


Pomegranates are high in antioxidants and have long been associated with fertility. A small study showed that drinking pure pomegranate juice increased testosterone levels and decreased cortisol, i.e. stress levels, in both men and women, helping to increase sex drive.

Is it recommended or not to try aphrodisiacs?

It should be emphasized that most studies on aphrodisiacs lack quality evidence and more research is needed on how effective they actually are as a sexual stimulant. But there are definitely health benefits to eating most of these foods.

You can start with a small amount that you can adjust based on your body's tolerance and response, Vandana Sheth, a registered dietitian/nutritionist, tells Yahoo Life.

The specialist recommends consulting a doctor when taking medications, to make sure they do not interfere with natural aphrodisiacs.

Whether or not they work for you, experts agree that food aphrodisiacs can be fun and tasty, says Maxine Yeung, registered dietitian and health and wellness coach.