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Wellness consultant Naini Setalvad lists simple foods that double as aphrodisiacs

While there’s no real expiry date on a satisfying sex life, the stress of daily living can be a bit of a downer, as can health problems that come with age. Problems like vaginal dryness and erectile dysfunction further diminish sex drive. However, rather than turning to your medicine cabinet for drugs that boost the libido, stock your kitchen with foods that do the trick—naturally!

What are aphrodisiacs?

The word aphrodisiac comes from Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty; it is said she emerged from a clamshell. Aphrodisiacs are foods that increase the flow of blood and sexual fluid to the genitals and release natural bio-chemicals in the body. They provide nutrients that improve the health of your sex organs, increase your body energy, boost temperature and heart rate, and enhance the mood for sex. They can also boost semen count and help counter vaginal dryness. The best part: they need not always be fancy foods like oysters; even simple, everyday foods can double as aphrodisiacs.

Food for love

Sunflower seeds, avocados, almonds and olives contain Vitamin E that helps regulate sexual hormones, boosts libido and testosterone levels in men, and aids in the treatment of sterility for men and women. A deficiency of this vitamin could lead to loss of sexual potency. Further, for a healthy sex drive, both men and women require foods that contain zinc. Pumpkin seeds are high in both zinc and Vitamin E. In men, they pump zinc into the prostate gland and increase sperm count; in women, they build hormones, activate sexual organs and increase sexual fluid secretions. Zinc is also found in peanuts, eggs, brown rice and pine nuts.

Sea foods—especially oysters—are one of the most recognised aphrodisiacs to date. Oysters are high in zinc and improve dopamine levels, which boost libido in men and women. Sea foods help in the production of testosterone and healthy sperm.

Cocoa—in the form of chocolate—is another popular aphrodisiac and a favourite across the globe. It contains phenylethylamine which stimulates the hormone that is released during sex. However, the regular chocolate available in the market is highly processed and high in fat and sugar. Try organic chocolate, preferably dark, instead. You can also have cocoa in other forms—for instance, cocoa powder can be combined with other aphrodisiacs such as bananas to make a milkshake.

Indeed, bananas, whole grains and fresh figs are other common aphrodisiacs. Bananas enhance Vitamin B levels, thus converting carbohydrates into energy. Vitamin B helps increase testosterone production. Eating whole grains such as wheat and barley also increases Vitamin B levels. Fresh figs are good for prostate health and contain minerals that help enhance sexual function in women.

Interestingly, despite the association of garlic with ‘bad breath’, it actually serves as a great aphrodisiac, especially for men. It increases blood flow to the groin and helps boost the libido. Garlic is a common addition in Indian cuisine and can be included in vegetables, soups, chutneys and dals. Vegetables such as asparagus, chilli peppers, celery and avocados are also good aphrodisiacs. Asparagus is high in Vitamin B or folate that increases the production of histamine, which is important for a healthy sex drive. Chilli peppers contain capsaicin that revs up your libido and celery increases pheromone levels that enhance your sex appeal. Avocado also helps to maintain a healthy sexual system for men. The folic acid, calcium and vitamins C and E in them generate nitric oxide that helps to dilate blood vessels and erectile function.

Further, food grains such as barley and pulses and nuts like pistachios, walnuts and almonds prevent erectile dysfunction by managing cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Unhealthy food habits clog the blood vessels, leading to restricted blood flow. This causes mismanagement of blood sugars and cardiovascular disease, which in turn contributes to erectile dysfunction.

So open your fridge, raid your kitchen, and find simple, healthy foods that will bring you closer to your partner. Improvise and enjoy—sprinkle cocoa into your smoothie, coffee or yogurt; snack on nuts, figs and seed mix through the day; and munch on bananas and strawberries for a warm, fuzzy feeling. It’s never been easier to up your love quotient.




  • Peanuts: 50 gm
  • Pumpkin seeds: 1 tbsp
  • Tomato: 1 tbsp; finely chopped
  • Onion: 1 tbsp; finely chopped
  • Red chilli powder: ½ tsp
  • Coriander: 2 tsp; finely chopped
  • Green chillies: ¼ tsp; finely chopped
  • Salt and lemon juice to taste


Mix peanuts, pumpkin seeds, tomato, onion, red chilli powder, green chillies and coriander together. Add salt and squeeze lemon on top. Mix well and serve.



  • Strawberries: 10-12
  • Banana: ½
  • Cocoa powder: ½ tbsp
  • Ice cubes: 3-4


Chop the bananas and strawberries into small pieces. Blend the chopped bananas and strawberries along with ice cubes and cocoa powder. Serve chilled with ice and a pinch of cocoa as garnish.



  • Jav atta (finger millet): 100 gm
  • Water: 100 ml
  • Chilli paste: ½ tsp
  • Coriander: ½ cup; chopped
  • Salt to taste


Take water in a vessel and put it on medium flame. As it starts boiling, add the jav atta, chilli paste and coriander and leave for 2-3 minutes. Do not stir. Take off the flame. Stir with a wooden spoon so no lumps are formed. Once it is mixed, cool it for five minutes and transfer to a flat plate. Knead well and roll it into rotis; cook them on a griddle with ¼ tsp ghee, if desired.



  • Garlic: 1 head
  • Olive oil: 2 tbsp
  • Sea salt to taste


Preheat the oven to 220°C. Chop the top off the garlic head and place the garlic in a piece of foil. Drizzle olive oil over the garlic head until it is completely filled. Wrap tightly with foil, place on a baking tray and bake for roughly 35 minutes until tender and fragrant. Remove from the oven and let it cool. Peel off the bulb and gently squeeze each garlic clove out. Sprinkle sea salt on top and enjoy.



  • Avocados: 2
  • Tomato: 2-3 tbsp; deseeded and finely chopped
  • Onion: 2 tbsp; finely chopped
  • Garlic: 1 tsp; finely chopped
  • Coriander: 1 tbsp; finely chopped
  • Green chillies: 1 tsp; finely chopped
  • Salt and lemon juice to taste


Cut the avocados into halves, remove the seeds and scoop out the centre portion. Put the scooped flesh into a bowl and mash well with the back of a fork or masher. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Refrigerate and serve.

Setalvad is an obesity and lifestyle disease consultant who offers diet counselling at Health for You, a wellness clinic in Mumbai, as well as online. Visit for more details or write to if you have any queries for her

Featured in Harmony — Celebrate Age Magazine
February 2018