Ask Keri: Are oysters really an aphrodisiac, and will eating them boost my libido?
Keri Says: Unfortunately, there’s no solid scientific evidence that shows a link between eating oysters and a healthier libido. But sexual desire is complicated, and so is how what you eat affects how often you want to jump into bed.
Here’s what you need to know.
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Oysters as an Aphrodisiac
The connection between oysters and sex is usually traced back to Casanova, an 18th century intellectual who became known for an erotic memoir he wrote about his sexual exploits. Apparently, he ate a lot of oysters and assigned them all kinds of credit for his appetites.
Oysters are a great source of zinc, and studies in both animals and people have shown a link between zinc deficiency and erectile dysfunction. In 2005, researchers claimed there might be even more to it than that, after discovering that oysters contain amino acids like D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate, which have been found to increase production of testosterone and progesterone in male and female rats, respectively.
The problem is that their logic relied on many leaps. First, the studies that showed increases in sex hormones were in animals only. Research in human men on how D-aspartic acid impacts testosterone is all over the place, showing increases in some groups and decreases in others. And even if supplementation with the amino acid did raise levels, it’s unclear how that raise would impact sexual desire (especially if you’re just eating a few oysters on a date, as opposed to regularly taking a supplement).
Human sexual desire and response is incredibly complex and involves much more than just a simple hormone tweak. In fact, a lot of it has to do with what’s going on in your fascinating, complicated brain.
Of course just like stress and sleep, what you eat can have an impact, because feeling healthy and energized (part of which means getting adequate vitamins and minerals!) can make you want to get busy. I mean, who wants to have sex when you’re tired, cranky, and bloated?
The Bottom Line
Basically, what we know is that adequate zinc may support arousal in men, so that’s a good thing. And remember my point about sexual desire being rooted in your brain? If oysters remind you of romance and get you in the mood, why not eat them? They’re incredibly delicious and rich in omega-3s, vitamin B12, and zinc and selenium, which support thyroid health.
In other words, I’m a big fan of the health benefits of both sex and oysters, so feel free to combine them however you see fit.