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It’s February and love is in the air. And it’s also on your plate—that is if you subscribe to the belief that certain foods are natural aphrodisiacs. The science is a little light on whether foods can actually lift your libido, but a spicy pepper that quickens your pulse and makes you sweat or a suggestively shaped menu item could certainly put sex on your brain.
“Aphrodisiac foods sometimes have antioxidants and other qualities that can alter our body chemistry during that meal and post-meal time, thus leading to the sense of being turned on,” explains Jenni Skyler, Ph.D., LMFT, a certified sex therapist and director of the Intimacy Institute in Boulder.
Even if you don’t buy into the theory completely—or fail to feel the impact from a food that falls into the aphrodisiac category—just the placebo effect of a special meal possibly turning you on could be powerful, Skyler explains.
Intrigued? Here’s where to find aphrodisiac foods in (and around) Denver.
Before there was Viagra, there was drinking chocolate. The Aztec emperor Montezuma drank large quantities of cacao spiced with chile and vanilla before his sexual trysts during the 15th century, according to historical accounts. Then, in the 1600s, German theologian Franciscus Rausch claimed that drinking chocolate was provoking a “blaze of passion” in monasteries and chocolate was considered a threat to sexual abstinence. Steamy, right? Here’s what we do know: Chocolate contains phenylethylamine, which increases the release of our feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine.
Where to go: RiNo-based Temper Chocolates inside Denver Central Market sells six- and 12-piece boxes of assorted Valentine’s-themed bonbons ($18-$36). Gourmet bonbons (which could inspire a Spotify list, too) include the Queen Bey lavender-infused dark chocolate ganache in a dark chocolate shell and the Joan Jett blood orange and chai ganache in a milk chocolate shell. 2669 Larimer St.
Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed honey to treat pain, heal wounds, soothe sore throats, heal scars and even for contraceptive purposes and to counteract baldness. According to folklore, he also recommended a mixture of honey and milk before sex to invoke feelings of love and euphoria. Some small studies have suggested that the antioxidant-rich nectar can, indeed, soothe sore throats and help treat scrapes and burns. But studies don’t go so far as to confirm any sex-drive-boosting effects of the sweet stuff.
Where to go: St. Julien Hotel and Spa’s rooftop is home to two bee colonies, with each hive housing between 20,000 to 60,000 bees depending on the season. The hives produce honey for the property’s restaurant and bar and the flavors are determined by the nearby plants. Get a taste of the honey at the Boulder hotel’s on-property restaurant, Jill’s Restaurant and Bistro, which, for instance, drizzles the sweet stuff on its Brussels sprouts. 900 Walnut St., Boulder
Legendary lover Casanova was known to down 50 raw oysters from their half shelves in a single sitting to help fuel his sexual escapades. The bivalves are a rich source of zinc, a nutrient that’s indeed important to male fertility. And, a small study in 2009 showed zinc supplements increase male testosterone levels. So can a plate of oysters put you in the mood? The answer is a resounding maybe—but as they’re also delicious, we recommend ordering them anyway.
Where to go: The new Water Grill opened in LoDo this month and the upscale seafood restaurant is an ideal spot for a date night. Fittingly, there’s a $13 Honeymoon Oyster on the menu. Uni roe, tobiko, ikura and quail egg share the iridescent shell with a plump and briny fresh-shucked oyster. Casanova would surely approve. 1691 Market St.
The key to spicing up your sex life could very literally be your spice rack, with a 2011 study showing that saffron is a performance booster. A vivid shade of yellow-orange, the spice comes from the Crocus sativus flower which only blooms once a year, with each flower producing only three threads of saffron.
Where to go: Savory Spice is now selling a Saffron Salt that combines the aphrodisiac with salt and a touch of vanilla. The spice shop recommends sprinkling the sexy salt on poultry, fruit, or even desserts like bananas foster and caramel beignets). Multiple locations, including 1537 Platte St. (find more Colorado stores on the store locator)