Vegan aphrodisiacs could be just what your body's starving for this Valentine's Day, whether you consider yourself an herbivore or not. Even the most devout steak-eater may want to partake in a meat vacation to enjoy the wonderful side effects of plant-based foods that fuel the libido.
No blood flow to the heart? The end result is drastic—cardiac arrest. Lack of blood to the brain increases the risk of a stroke. "And if blood can't flow to our nether regions, performance may be hindered," explains veteran cookbook author Colleen Patrick Goudreau. "Though we tend to indulge in rich, decadent foods when we dine with our beloved on Valentine's Day, we would be better off focusing on foods that encourage blood flow, such as plant foods like vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices, rather than foods that hinder it, such as meat, dairy, and eggs."
For Goudreau, a vegan Valentine's Day goes beyond libido. She believes the holiday presents the perfect time to experiment with vegan foods because the holiday is synonymous with love and compassion. "I can't think of a better Valentine for our loved ones than to serve food that heals rather than harms, food that is life giving rather than life taking, food born of compassion rather than violence," she says. "My hope is that with each meal we eat, we realize we have the opportunity to create peace, optimal health, and deeper intimacy."
Whether your motives include unleashing compassion, love, your libido—or all three—we invite you to dabble with the vegan aphrodisiac list Goudreau, creator of the 30-Day Vegan Challenge, whipped up for Rodale News readers.
Her list consists of foods that spark internal and sensory effects, thanks to naturally occurring chemicals or just sensory aspects of the experience of eating them.
Dilating the blood vessels, cayenne pepper increases blood flow throughout the body (as do other hot peppers), and let's face it, a healthy libido is all about increased blood flow.
Phenylethylamine, one of hundreds of chemicals contained in chocolate, arouses the same feelings we experience when we're in love.
Because it increases blood flow to the genital region, ginseng has been shown in clinical trials to improve sexual desire and arousal in both men and women.
Recent clinical studies indicate that it may indeed be a natural Viagra—less potent, but with none of the side effects.
The color red has always been associated with passion, heat, and love and can be found on Valentine's Day menus in the form of beets, cherries, cranberries, pomegranates, and strawberries.
The combined effect of caffeine and heat in hot drinks like coffee, tea, cocoa, and mulled wine or cider is to increase blood circulation, a known factor for libido.
The juiciness and succulence of apricots, mangoes, peaches, and tomatoes, aka "love apples," have earned them a place on the list of sensual foods.