Off the Wall

The Truth About Aphrodisiac Foods, or, Do Oysters Really Make You Horny?

It is said that Giacomo Girolamo Casanova, the notorious 18th-century lover, ate 50 oysters each morning for breakfast to increase his sexual stamina. Earlier, herbalist Nicholas Culpepper wrote that asparagus "stirs up lust in man and woman." And back before we even had a word for aphrodisiac, the Aztecs named avocados ahuacuatl, or "testicle tree." The belief in foods as sexual stimulants is not a modern myth.

It's not entirely based upon science either, though. Though some foods possess chemical properties that could increase testosterone or estrogen levels, thereby increasing sex drive, others are considered sexy purely because of their appearance. The Food and Drug Administration maintains that aphrodisiacs are myths with no basis in science.

Still, some people swear by them. So, in honor of Valentine's Day, we bring you some of the foods commonly believed to have aphrodisiac powers, and a bit of research to determine whether or not you're wasting your time by stuffing yourself silly with walnuts.

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Kaitlin Steinberg