For centuries, man has attempted to boost his sex drive with outlandish potions, lotions and dubious pills. But a simple trip to the supermarket alone could do wonders in spicing up your sex life.
Not only is good nutrition vital to the stamina, mood and wellbeing needed for a healthy libido, but certain foods also contain specific enzymes and vitamins (think zinc and omega-3) that increase circulation, stimulation and the production of hormones to optimise sex drive - making them prime material for some seriously good hanky panky.
From peanut butter to porridge oats and chocolate to chilli, these natural aphrodisiacs could work wonders in bringing an added dose of va va voom to the bedroom...
Peruvian maca root
Known as the "Peruvian Viagra", the sex-enhancing power of this radish-like root is legendary in its native country and beyond. Cherished by the Incas back in the day and now used as dietary supplement around the world, a 1998 study by PureWorld Botanicals found maca root to contain two unique compounds, macamides and macaenes, which are directly related to its aphrodisiac effect - including a lift in energy and libido.
The scent of basil has long been associated with arousal, with women rubbing basil powder and oil in their bodies back in the day to attract the guys. Granted, we're more likely to spice up a linguine with it these days, but the fact remains that basil is great in boosting circulation for a super-revved libido and its uplifting fragrance is a natural aphrodisiac.
Porridge is the master of wake-up foods, not least because of its turn-on potential. Research has found oats help to unlock testosterone production in the body, kick-starting the libido. Porridge marketing gurus have been quick to cash in on the connection: one brand is titled Morning Glory while Rory McCann, the former lumberjack seen on boxes of Scott's Porage Oats famously proclaimed: "Porridge keeps me frisky."
When Baby talked about carrying a watermelon in Dirty Dancing, she perhaps wasn't aware of its sexual potency. Both the rind and flesh of this glorious fruit are packed with amino acid citrulline, which relaxes the blood vessels and increases blood flow to the genitals, in an effect similar to Viagra.
The avocado's phallic outline has not gone unnoticed over the centuries with the Aztecs dubbing the fruit tree "ahuacatl" or "testicle tree". These tasty starters are high in vitamin b6, which helps boost male libido, and also potassium, which regulates the female thyroid gland. They're also rich in folic acids, which is good for the heart and energy levels.
It's not a great aid for getting you to bed but once you're there, garlic is a bit of a hero. It's packed full with allicin, a compound that increase blood flow to the sexual organs. Make sure you have chopped garlic rather than chewing it raw (allicin is only produced via an enzyme reaction when garlic is cut up), but all in all it's a nice little antidote to bad breath.
The king of aphrodisiacs, dark chocolate with high levels of cacao contains a host of sex drive-inducing compounds, including phenylethylamine, the "love chemical" which triggers the release of dopamine in the brain and anandamide, which is linked to motivation and pleasure. Need more proof? A study by the Journal of Sexual Medicine found women who ate a single piece of chocolate every day enjoyed a more active sex life than those who didn't.
Ancient Romans used beetroot to improve their sex drive and the vegetable's libido-lifting qualities remain true to this day. As well as containing trytophan, a chemical that contributes to wellbeing, beets also have high levels of the trace mineral boron, which is directly related to the production of sex hormones.
Good news for fans of the gooey paste: peanut butter is high in monounsaturated fats, which increase dopamine - and this, in turn, can heighten female sexual arousal. So treat yourself to an extra serving next time you have it on toast.
Research suggests liquorice is actually a bit of a mixed blessing when it comes to libido. A study by the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago found women who were exposed to the scent of liquorice reported a 13% increase in blood flow to their genitals (compared to a 1% reduction from the scent of men's cologne). However researchers from Iran found men who ate too much liquorice could risk lowering their testosterone levels. So good news for girls, not so much for the guys.
Nuts in general contain high levels of fatty acids which are key to the production of hormones needed to maintain a healthy sex drive. Almonds are especially good; studies indicate their scent arouses women and they contain an amino acid called arginine, which helps to relax blood vessels and circulation to increase sexual potency in men.
Its phallic outline suggests asparagus may be a natural contender for an aphrodisiac - and indeed it is. This sophisticated veg contains high levels of "sex vitamin" E and foliate, which is necessary for histamine production - and histamine is related to easy sexual orgasm, both male and female. The Vegetarian Society recommends "eating asparagus for three days for the most powerful affect."
Next time your reach guiltily for the vanilla ice-cream, rest assured that it could do wonders for your sex life. Not only is the scent of vanilla a powerful mood-enchancer (some claim that inhaling it alone can increase libido) but when consumed, it aids the central nervous system leading to heightened stimulation.
The erotic connotations of a banana are fairly blatant, but this fruit is potent on the inside too. Bananas are rich in the enzyme bromelain, which has been linked to increased libido in men, and contain high levels of potassium and Vitamin B. These help in the production of sex hormones in both men and women, as well as optimising energy levels.
Granted it's not the sexiest of vegetables, but raw celery boosts production of androsterone, the odourless hormone released via male perspiration. This in turn is thought to act as a pheromone to turn women on. Something to bear in mind the next time you deliberate in the supermarket aisle...
Eggs Florentine makes a great breakfast in bed treat, and one with sexual benefits. Eggs contain high levels of vitamins B6 and B5, which help to balance hormone levels, and also vitamin B12, which is key to healthy testosterone production. Little wonder they're traditional symbols of fertility and rebirth.
There's a reason why red hot chilies have long been associated with a spicy sex life. The hot flavour comes from a massive dose of capsaicin, a chemical which releases mood-enhancing endorphins and increases blood flow and heart rate to stimulate nerve endings.
Goji berries grow abundantly in the tropical environment of Asian countries and are traditionally used there as a sexual tonic. The "super food" red berries increase testosterone production, which stimulates sex drive in both men and women. And they're great for overall mood and wellbeing, too.
It's an oldie but a goldie and there's good reason why we associate oysters with romance and arousal. These slimy molluscs are packed full of zinc, which is vital to the production of testosterone and healthy sperm. They also contain elevated levels of mood-enhancing and libido-lifting dopamine.
As erotic ingredients go, pumpkin seeds are hardly top of the list - but it would be a mistake to underestimate their sexual power. Like almonds, they contain high levels of the essential fatty acid omega-3 and like oysters, they're packed with zinc - both of which trigger the production of hormones required for a healthy sex drive.
Nutmeg can imitate the effects of "happy hormone" serotonin, allowing for greater relaxion and elevated mood. And studies have indicated that extracts of the spice have the same effect on mating behaviour among animals as Viagra. Food for thought for when you next decorate your cappuccino...
Like oysters and almonds, salmon is positively oozing with omega-3 essential fatty acids to optimise the production of sex drive hormones and maintain healthy circulation for nerve stimulation. In fact, if you dined out on salmon, oysters and almonds - topped off with vanilla ice-cream - who only knows what might happen...
Good old ginger is great for the immune system and even greater for your libido. Ginger root acts as a stimulant to circulatory system, increasing blood flow to the genitals. A steaming cup of ginger tea will also heat you up and get your heart rate going, which is all good news when it comes to sex.