Plant-based foods are not just great for your body, mind, and overall well being, there are also plant-based aphrodisiacs that can boost your libido!
Most of us think of these stimulants as special occasion boosters or natural aids for keeping the spice your relationship, yet aphrodisiacs can also be used to naturally increase libido, treat sexual dysfunction, and relight a flame for those that have lost interest in sex. These compounds also work to arouse sexual desire, enhance pleasure, and even hone sexual instinct. Many aphrodisiacs are super easy to come by as well and they may even be foods that you already have in your kitchen, but you never knew!
What are Aphrodisiacs?
The term aphrodisiac stems from two Greek roots, aphrodisiakon — meaning “sexual, aphrodisiac” and aphrodisios — “pertaining to Aphrodite.” Aphrodite was infamously the Greek goddess of love. These entomology roots hit upon both aspects of aphrodisiacs: first, they are meant to boost libido and inspire sexual pleasure and two, they are meant to reignite passion and ensnare the heart with desire.
Yet, when we’re seeking a definition in regards to what exactly an aphrodisiac is, well, it gets a bit sticky depending on where you get your definition.
For example, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) labels aphrodisiacs as any “product that bears labeling claims that it will arouse or increase sexual desire, or that it will improve sexual performance, is an aphrodisiac drug product.” On the other hand, according to trusty Wikipedia, aphrodisiacs — also referred to as love drugs — are substances “that increases sex drive when consumed,” but are “distinct from substances that address fertility issues or secondary sexual (dys)function such as erectile dysfunction.”
With that said, no matter which you chose, any reference to an aphrodisiac compound has one thing in common — they are natural substances that enhance sexual drive.
Do Plant-Based Aphrodisiacs Really Work?
Yet another topic that, depending on where you get your information, it gets a bit sticky.
Aphrodisiacs are “steeped in history and long-held cultural beliefs,” which relegates the effectiveness of these plant-based compounds to the holistic realm of health. On the flip side, there’s “little scientific evidence [that] actually exists to show that they have the desired effects.” With that said, there hasn’t really been any serious research conducted to show these effects.
Another important note is that, due to the lack of research, the FDA has not recognized these substances as safe in regards to using them as a treatment for sexual function or dysfunction and cautions that “there is a lack of adequate data to establish general recognition of the safety and effectiveness of any […] ingredients […] for the OTC [over-the-counter] use as an aphrodisiac.”
So, it’s a very contradictory two-sided coin.
Lucky for us, as the health world shifts towards raw, unprocessed plant-based diets, researchers are beginning to take note of the desire to use these agents and a “number of good-quality studies” are beginning to set up shop in order to “get to the bottom of which [aphrodisiac] compounds are safe and how they work.”
What does this mean for you, the consumer? Talk to your doctor!
This is the case for any dietary changes you want to make, yet it’s even more important when consuming substances that are still emerging as holistic treatments. Once again, always talk with your doctor or nutritionist or other health professional about integrating these substances into your diet!
10 Plant-Based Aphrodisiacs
Most of the time, our minds go straight to traditional aphrodisiacs, such as oysters. So, what about us plant-based eaters out there? Or, what if you just don’t like oysters? We are all in luck! There is a slew of plant-based, vegan-friendly aphrodisiacs. On top of stimulating sexual desire, many of these aphrodisiac foods are also nutrient-dense, rich in antioxidants, and possess anti-inflammatory compounds. Why? Because they are plant-based! Plant-based foods are simply the worlds natural antidote, offering many of the basic components that we need to stay healthy.
Avocado makes the list in almost any plant-based article I write. And yes, it has done it again, because, as it turns out, avocado also has aphrodisiac qualities!
These nutrient-packed fruits “boast [a] famous feminine shape and are high in omega-3 fatty acids and potassium, as well as vitamin B6, which is known to increase male hormone production.” The myth of aphrodisiac avocados goes far back in history. One such historical reference found that “Spanish priests used to forbid their parishioners from eating them.”
If you’re looking to create a special meal that’s avocado-rich start out with this super-simple and light Basil Mustard Salad (rich in both avocado and aphrodisiac-friendly basil), move to the main course of this Green Chickpea and Avocado Bhel, Tamarind Chutney, and Puffed Black Rice, and end the night with this super sexy and aphrodisiac-rich Chocolate Avocado Pudding.
Maca is a “sweet root vegetable” native to South America, specifically the Andes of Central Peru.
Over the last decade, maca has grown in popularity as a plant-based diet staple and a holistic health component. Maca root is not only nutrient-dense, but it has also been linked to a variety of health benefits including managing menopause symptoms, improving mood, boost in energy and athletic performance, possibly sun protection, and improvement of brain function. Yet, maca root is most well-known for its ability to boost libido in both men and women, as well as increase fertility in men. In fact, these uses are so well-known and document that maca root is known as “the Peruvian Viagra.”
Maca root is a wonderful ingredient to have on-hand in the kitchen. Due to its sweet profile, maca is a healthy alternative to use in sweet treats such as this Maple Maca Amaranth Porridge, these Apricot Maca-Roon Cookies, this Strawberry Maca Milkshake, or this super-rich Hot Chocolate with Maca and Tonic Herbs (also uses aphrodisiac-friendly chocolate).
3. Red Ginseng
Ginseng is a well-known herb that has been traditionally used in Chinese medicine, yet has made its way into the Western world as a holistic health compound use to treat a variety of symptoms.
When it comes to inspiring sexual desire, red ginseng is the ticket!
This particular type of ginseng “is commonly used to treat a variety of ailments in men and women, including low libido and sexual function.” Red ginseng is one of the few compounds to also have sound science backing its effectiveness. In fact, a few different studies “have investigated its use in men and observed that red ginseng was at least twice as effective as the placebo at improving erectile function.” With that said, as with other aphrodisiacs, more research is necessary to look at long-term use.
While ginseng is most commonly used in supplement form — such as this vegan-friendly Nature’s Answer Korean Ginseng Root for $11.15 — you can also use it in plant-based cooking — such as in this Healing Turmeric Smoothie. Plus, ginseng also happens to be an adaptogenic herb — plant compounds that “balance, restore, and protect the body,” while also helping the “hormone cortisol … respond to stress.” Try this NOW Panax Ginseng supplement for $17.65 supplement — a non-GMO and vegan ginseng supplement that upholds the health benefits of this ancient Chinese herb.
Pistachio nuts are not only nutrient-dense — filled with healthy fat, dietary fiber, and protein — but they are also purported to have possible libido-boosting effects, making them another vegan-friendly aphrodisiac option. Along with affecting libido, pistachios have been linked to other health benefits including ” helping lower blood pressure, [controlling] weight, and [reducing] the risk of heart disease.”
When it comes to the effects of pistachios on sexual health, a small study found that these tasty, healthy fat-filled nuts “may also help reduce symptoms of erectile dysfunction,” by increasing the flow of blood to sexual organs.
Getting your weekly dose of pistachios is more a treat than a chore! Make a tasty dessert, — such as this Pistachio Avocado Ice Cream (which includes purported aphrodisiac avocado) — create a healthy sauce, — such as this Easy Peasy Pine Nut and Basil Pesto (which includes purported aphrodisiac basil) — or go for savory — such as this Maple and Mustard Glazed Tempeh with Crunchy Pistachios and Scallions.
Much like chocolate, strawberries are a symbol of love — probably because they’re brilliantly red, juicy, and heart-shaped. It may also have something to do with the Romans who were “said to have considered the strawberry a symbol of Venus, the goddess of love.”
When it comes to its actual aphrodisiac effects, look to the vitamin C. This vitamin not only boosts the immune system and helps stave off common colds, but it’s known to “keep blood flowing to all regions of the body.” Strawberries also contain “ingredients important to sex hormone production” and aid in your overall health.
Eating strawberries raw is one of my all-time favorite treats! Of course, strawberries may not be your ultimate sweet treat, therefore combining them into recipes is a great way to get those wonderful health benefits, while not being too overwhelmed by their sweetness.
Go for a super healthy recipe, like these Strawberry Chocolate Chip Buckwheat Muffins, or go decadent, like these Pink and White Dipped Strawberries or this .
You may love figs, but what are they?
These fruits are part of the Mulberry family and “grow on the Ficus tree (Ficus carica).” Most figs are dried, “either by exposure to sunlight or through an artificial process,” but either way the end result is a “sweet and nutritious dried fruit that can be enjoyed throughout the year.”
Figs, along with dates, are natures gift to those practicing an unprocessed way of life. Avoiding refined and processed sugar is super difficult, yet figs offer a great source of sweetness without the processing behind it! Plus, figs also happen to be rich in “flavonoids and antioxidants” and are a purported, vegan-friendly aphrodisiac! The connection goes all the way back to the “ancient Greeks [who] associated them with love and fertility.” Yet, the actual science behind figs roots in their ability to “increase sexual stamina.” Therefore, mixing figs — stamina aids — with other aphrodisiacs that boost sexual desire, is a volcanic combination!
Due to their sticky nature, figs are a wonderful binder and can be used to create desserts such as these Fig and Almond Bars, this Carob and Fig Pie, this Golden Banana Milkshake, or these Fig Preserves.
Saffron is an incredibly uniquely flavored spice, often forgotten about in the vast options at the grocery store. This spice is “derived from the Crocus sativus flower,” which is “native to Southwest Asia.” Saffron also happens to be “one of the most expensive spices by weight.” Along with being a natural aphrodisiac, saffron is “often used as an alternative remedy to help treat depression, reduce stress and enhance mood.” In various studies, saffron has been found to improve erectile dysfunction in men and boost arousal and lubrication in women.
Saffron has a potent, savory flavor profile making it excellent for use in comfort foods — such as this Quinoa Mango Kheer or this Saffron Chia Pudding — yet saffron is also quite popular to boost the flavor of complex dishes — such as this Coconut Oil Crispy Rice or this Sage Purple Potato Cakes With Saffron Sauce and Turnip Greens.
8. Tribulus Terrestris
Never heard of this one? Me either!
Tribulus Terrestris is a plant in which both the root and fruit have “traditionally [been] used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, [and it] contains a compound that is converted to dehydroepiandrosterone, a natural steroid hormone.” It’s native to a variety of locations around the world, but can be found most abundant in “parts of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.” Along with being used to naturally boost libido and increase sexual function, this botanical is also “purported to have a variety of [other] health benefits, including reduced blood sugar and cholesterol, altered hormone levels,” improved immune system functionality, pain relief, decreased inflammation, and fluid balancing effects.
When it comes to using Tribulus Terrestris in your diet, you’ll want to rely on extract forms and supplements. These are not only potent, but they will also help you control dosage, which is an important part of using this botanical.
This NutraChamps Tribulus Terrestris 2000mg Supplement for $18.99 is vegan-friendly, designed for both men and women, and also includes maca powder (another aphrodisiac), as well as black pepper extract for maximum absorption. You can also try your hand at this Barlowe’s Herbal Elixirs Tribulus Terrestris Extract for $19.95, which is vegan-certified, kosher, halal, and contains no stearates, fillers, gluten, corn powder, rice, or artificial preservatives or flavors.
So, you’re probably a little skeptical of this one and so was I, but turns out there’s some sturdy evidence behind this vegan-friendly aphrodisiac!
Asparagus has been used as a desire stimulant since the 17th century, in fact, “bridegrooms in 19th century France were served three courses of asparagus at their prenuptial dinner.” Per VegNews, it’s believed that “asparagus boosts potassium and folic acid, the latter of which is said to boost histamine production—a necessary component in reaching orgasm for both sexes.”
Plus, it doesn’t hurt that asparagus is super tasty, easy to cook, and cheap!
Try a few simple asparagus recipes that are easy to integrate into your plant-based diet regimen such as this Asparagus Potato Salad with Tomato Caper Salsa, this Lemon-Chili Asparagus, this Lemon Sauteed Asparagus, or this super simple Asparagus Soup.
Saved the best plant-based aphrodisiac for last!
Chocolate is a traditional gift from one who is in love to the person they love. This isn’t just because chocolate is a delicious, decadent sweet and bitter treat. Turns out chocolate is also a purported aphrodisiac. Not only is this plant-based food rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and nutrients, but it specializes in making you feel good.
Per VegNews, chocolate is “full of compounds including anandaminde, a psychoactive feel-good chemical, and phenylethylamine, a chemical that releases dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain and produces feelings of excitement and happiness.” Plus, cacao — the raw base of chocolate — “contains tryptophan, which is essential for the brain to release serotonin, a ‘happiness’ chemical.”