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Grading Nature's Aphrodisiacs

Which sexy food gets Pepper's only A+?

Grading Aphrodisiacs

Foods spiced with chili peppers can turn up the heat for some couples. — Henrik Sorensen/Getty Images

We humans share some basic drives with other mammals: We need to sleep, we need to procreate, and we need to eat. These behaviors can be done at a minimal level or they can be done luxuriously—and with maximum pleasure. Let's discuss the latter. Why shouldn't sex be as glorious as possible? And if we can have wonderful foods that accelerate our sexual pulse, what's not to love about that?

See also: 5 myths about sex after 50.

Lest you think this enthusiasm over edibles with aphrodisiac effects is only the obsessional thinking of a modern-day sex expert, I'll refer you to ancient writings, such as the Japanese Pillow Books, the Kama Sutra, and lesser-known pamphlets by people who spent a lot of time thinking about how to combine food and drink together to optimize sexual pleasure. Some of the specific suggestions have been pure fantasy, others have a little bit of truth to them, and many will work — if you believe they will. For instance, thousands of hapless rhinoceroses have been killed because of an ancient Asian myth about the medicinal impact of ground-up rhino horn on men's sexual potency. Is there any science to this assertion? Absolutely not. Does that matter to the guy who thinks it helped him? Again, no.

So what foods are supposed to help our sometimes flagging sexual powers, and what is the real scoop on their efficacy?

The Condiment Group

Of the many spices that are supposed to help arouse men and women, I'd say the most likely is the chile family. Certainly it gets blood rushing, and a little sweat is kind of a turn-on for some people. Chile earns a B+

The other contestant in this class is ginger, which wakes up a person's mouth. It is a known blood thinner that helps flow get to the parts of the body that need it the most for sexual arousal. It's right up there with chiles. Ginger gets a B+

We need to include honey in this list. Honey's properties vary depending on the local pollen, but it is sensual on the tongue. It was used in ancient Egypt as an aphrodisiac. In medieval times (and today), honey was a prime ingredient in mead, a fermented drink that was often part of marriage ceremonies. Honey is sensual and sticky, and eating it on just about anything is kind of sexy. It is also a quickly usable form of sugar, so it ought to give a rush of energy. Honey deserves an A

Coffee gets a high mark — at least the caffeine keeps you awake long enough for sex. Also, "having a coffee" has become a first-date tradition, so the smell might be just enough to feel a whiff of romance. On the other hand, it produces coffee breath. Coffee gets a B–

Next: Pepper's favorite sexy foods. »

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