How many times have we heard or repeated the saying, "A way to a man's heart is through his stomach?"
And how many times has it worked?
If your answer is "lots" and "always", then you know first-hand the secret powers that lie within certain foods.
Whether this claim has been scientifically proven or not, we are physiologically affected by the look, taste, and smell of food and the environment we eat in. Certainly, sinking your teeth into a warm slice of Valrhona chocolate cake, or sucking down an oyster on the half shell in a candle lit room evokes a sensual response.
Conversely, eating previously frozen and flavorless foods off a plastic tray in a crowded office cafeteria is less than inspiring.
But why is this?
According to many ancient cultures, including the Greeks who coined the term "Aphrodisiac" after Aphrodite the Greek goddess of sensual love, certain foods are reputed to increase libido, cure impotency and create a stronger desire for sex.
But not all foods do this. Only a small handful of foods possess just the right combination of look, feel, taste and nutrients to "turn us on." Studies show that Zinc, Potassium, Vitamin C, E, and B6, are all vital nutrients for a healthy and vibrant sex life.
"Foods such as pumpkin seeds, pine nuts and oysters are all high in Zinc which are needed to produce healthy seminal fluids", claims Danny Arguetty, a health counselor and nutritionist at the Kripalu Health Center in Lenox, Mass. He also recommends adding small amounts of chili to your food, which is high in Vitamin C, stimulates circulation, and "spices up your love life.
"On the contrary, a diet high in trans-fats, refined carbohydrates and alcohol lowers men's sexual response and decreases their testosterone levels," Arguetty says. "Men, especially, need to be mindful of maintaining a healthy diet high in vegetables, fruits and whole grains if they want to keep their libido up and partners happy and satisfied."
With that said, this Valentine's Day keep your aphrodisiac food list handy, and cook your way into a passionate night of pure bliss that you and your loved one will never forget.
Here are ten of the top aphrodisiac foods guaranteed to light your partner's fire:
-- Raw Oysters: This is one of the most popular and well-known "sexy" foods on the aphrodisiac list. High in Zinc, which increases sperm and testosterone production, oysters also contain a hormone called dopamine, which increases libido.
Squeeze some fresh lemon juice onto them for extra zest.
-- Asparagus: Loaded with vitamin E, a key nutrient for a healthy sex life and treating impotence.
-- Eggs: Hard boil them and spread a little caviar on the top, and you have an aphrodisiac bomb that is guaranteed to make waves long after the meal is finished. Eggs are rich in B6 and B5, both crucial for libido and balanced hormone levels.
-- Almonds: Both the smell and nutrient make-up of almonds make these crunchy morsels a "must eat" on Valentines Day. Full of essential fatty acids, they are particularly important for male hormone production. To get her in the mood, light an almond scented candle during dinner and she will never know what seduced her.
-- Figs: Known as a food fit only for the gods and goddesses, figs are high in amino acids and improve sexual stamina. Flambé fresh figs and serve them over vanilla ice cream with a balsamic reduction-- a sure way to sweeten anyone's mood.
-- Avocados: Avocado trees were referred to as "testicle trees" by the ancient Aztecs, and rightfully so. Moreover, avocados are bursting with folic acid, a type of vitamin B that helps turn protein into energy, and potassium that helps boost men and women's libidos.
-- Chili: Spice up your night and get a good hit of vitamin C at the same time, by incorporating some chili into your Valentine's Day dinner.
-- Bananas: Packed with bromelain enzymes, potassium and riboflavin, eating one banana a day is guaranteed to keep you energized.
-- Garlic: Perhaps known more as a "turn off" than a "turn on," garlic is actually a very effective aphrodisiac. Garlic contains a potent ingredient called Allicin that increases blood flow and libido. But don't forget to bring the breath mints or you will be sent home early.
-- Chocolate: Finally, what we have all been waiting for, the chocolate! This is the surest way to a women's heart. Nibbling on a piece of dark chocolate immediately produces a chemical called phenylethylamine, which is believed to produce the feeling of "being in love." So, a gift a chocolate should, in fact, sweep your beloved off his or her feet and into your arms.
For Valentine's Day, what could be more romantic than dipping bananas into a shared pot of chocolate fondue?
Using food to spark your sexual appetite is a creative and fun way to woo your loved one, stay healthy, and indulge in some of the foods that we sometimes overlook on the menu. With a little help from our aphrodisiac friends, this Valentine's Day you can have your chocolate cake and eat it too!
Reviewed by Dr. Manny Alvarez
For more great information on living healthy through every decade of life, click here to check out Dr. Manny's book The Check List (Harper Collins, 2007).
Dr. Manny Alvarez is the managing editor of health news at FOXNews.com, and is a regular medical contributor on the FOX News Channel. He is chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Science at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. Additionally, Alvarez is Adjunct Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at New York University School of Medicine in New York City.