Thanksgiving is a holiday for celebration, for over-indulgence and football, for awkward conversations with your Great Aunt Sally as she probes your love life, asking when you’re finally going to settle down and pop out a few offspring. We gather ‘round the table to give thanks to our Heavenly Father and to those first pioneers who braved the harsh conditions of the New World to build the America we know and love today. And as we stuff our stomachs full of all the traditional fixings—turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes—sex is probably the furthest thing from our minds.
But if in between the belly aching and cold sweats from an afternoon of decadence that rivals even that of the Roman Empire you begin to feel the familiar tingling of lust in your nether regions, fear not. Chances are that turkey leg you downed an hour earlier is working its aphrodisiacal magic.
Throughout history, people in all corners of the globe from all walks of life have turned to certain foods, beverages and drugs in hopes to procure some sort of libido-boosting powers. And even though, according to the Food and Drug Administration, no alleged aphrodisiac has yet been scientifically proven as effective, certain foods, including those found in the typical Thanksgiving smorgasbord, are believed by some within the scientific community or otherwise to help put us in the mood when ingested.
“Named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, and fertility, aphrodisiacs are substances that supposedly elicit sexual desire and arousal, enhance sex drive and sexual ‘performance,’ and extend sexual energy,” according to Go Ask Alice, a peer-reviewed online health resource produced by Columbia University. “The fact that some well-known aphrodisiacs look similar to men’s and women’s genitals, or are derived from animal sex organs, was no accident.”
Typically, when we think of aphrodisiacs, oysters and chocolate come immediately to the mind, but apparently even the archetypal holiday get-together with its run of the mill, average Joe dishes can make us feel a little naughty.
The scent of cinnamon and the history of its use as an aphrodisiac dates back to Biblical times. In the book of Proverbs in the Bible, it, along with myrrh and aloe, was used to perfume the bed of lovers. Cinnamon was also employed in the Queen of Sheba’s seduction of King Solomon. And in a 1994 study done by the Smell and Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago, researchers found that the smell of cinnamon buns had the greatest impact on sexual arousal, as measured by penile blood flow, in male participants.
In the 1995 follow-up study, the penile blood flow increased by an average of 40 percent in male participants between ages 18 and 64 after they smelled a combination of lavender and pumpkin pie. So feel no shame in hitting the dessert table this Thanksgiving. You can always work those extra calories off with some sexercise.
Continuing the trend of sugary goodness, according to Men’s Health Magazine, sweet potatoes are high in potassium, which helps reduce stress and is a “great way to curb performance anxiety.” But the sweet potato has a long history as a supposed aphrodisiac. In his 1597 “Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes,” John Gerard wrote about the sweet potato, and along with a description of the plant and how it is eaten, he also wrote that it “comforts, strengthens, and nourishes the body,” and produces “bodily lust,” according to the Library of Congress’ website.
Celery is a staple that can be found in most stuffing recipes, and, according to modern science, it contains androsterone, a human pheromone naturally produced in males that apparently stimulates sexual arousal in females. It’s still unknown whether or not the androsterone in celery has the potential to affect the body, but what’s there to lose? If nothing else, at least you can find comfort in the fact that you’re eating something healthy.
And what would Thanksgiving be without some good ‘ol cranberry sauce or salad? In addition to tasting like a spoonful of tart heaven, these little red dew drops are chock full of nutrients beneficial to sexual health, so says Eatsomethingsexy.com. Cranberries are a good source of Vitamin C, “which has been clinically proven to keep sex glands running,” and they also contain Vitamin A, which is “important for reproduction,” according to the website.
To round it all out, the ever-faithful holiday turkey is sure to send us straight to bed, but it might be for reasons other than the notorious sleep-inducing Tryptophan. “Turkey and other lean meats which are rich in zinc encourage blood flow and are thought to boost your libido,” according to Holidaydish.com. “Tryptophan is the added bonus because it produces serotonin, usually causing that blissful contentment experienced right after taking your last gravy drenched bite.”
Regardless of whether aphrodisiacs really do work, sometimes the power of suggestion is all you need to ignite a sexual spark. In any case, celebrate with all the vigor of the American spirit this Thanksgiving, and if an engorged belly doesn’t stop you from scoring some holiday booty, you’ll have even more to be thankful for.