Aphrodisiac foods from around the world

Since the best way to the heart is through the stomach, we're spending Valentine's Day exploring aphrodisiac foods from one corner of the globe to the other
Aphrodisiac food tour: Chocolate is a must. Photo: Shutterstock
Aphrodisiac food tour: Chocolate is a must. Photo: Shutterstock

Chocolate is a must on an aphrodisiac foods tour around the world. Photo: Shutterstock 

Food and travel go hand in hand. Let's face it: There's no better way to experience the culture of a new place than by tucking into the local cuisine. Aphrodisiac expert Amy Reiley is here to share the best dishes and drinks to enjoy on a romantic evening. From Europe to Central America, here's a food tour you won't want to miss.


"All seafood is tied to the Goddess Aphrodite and is therefore considered aphrodisiac," says Reiley. "However, mussels have a special distinction that an amino acid they contain may directly raise sexual hormone levels. (More research will need to be done on exactly how many mussels it will take to reap this reward.)"

Best place to get them: Prince Edward Island, Canada. Visitors flock to PEI for its exceptional, freshly caught mussels and oysters, which are rumoured to be the best around. To sample some for yourself, locals suggest a jaunt over to The Water & Prince Fish Mart.


Fine Champagne is the staple of any romantic dinner. According to Reiley, blanc de blanc champagnes have actually been found to replicate the scent of the female pheromone.

"Simply put, Champagne makes you warm and giddy," she adds. "Thanks to the steady stream of bubbles, you feel the alcohol sooner than you would with most wines and spirits. This also means you're satisfied more quickly and are less likely to overindulge."

Best place to get it: France's Champagne wine region, just northeast of Paris. Sip on the finest bubbly at decadent tastings throughout the historic province. Add a stop to Champagne on any one of Insight Guides' trips to France or speak to our experts to create your Champagne trip from scratch. 

A bottle of fine champagne is a romantic must.A bottle of fine champagne is a romantic must on your aphrodisiac foods tour around the world

A glass of Burgundy

"Red wines with aromas that include violets, truffles, mushrooms, leather, sweat or damp earth can actually replicate the scent of a human pheromone," says Reiley. "Good news, these are all typical aromas in red Burgundies!"

Best place to get it: Côte de Nuits, France. If you're a lover of red wine, this region is known the world over for its spectacular Burgundies. For couples looking to kick off their Valentine's Day with a glass of earthy red, Insight Guides' local experts can help you create the perfect wine-fuelled, French holiday itinerary.

Coconut-based soup

Coconut is another universally recognised aphrodisiac. To infuse it into your Valentine's meal, try a coconut-based soup. Tom Kha Gai, available at most Thai restaurants, is a fragrant, light soup full of rich flavours and subtle undertones. Ginger, coconut, cilantro and lemongrass all make an appearance without leaving you too full.

Best place to get it: This traditional Thai dish is best experienced in, you guessed it, Thailand. Bangkok is especially known for its outstanding food stalls, but Thailand also has no shortage of great restaurants. Taste the full flavours of Thai cuisine on Insight Guides' Bangkok Gourmet holiday

Coconut Thai soup, perfect for a romantic meal.Coconut Thai soup is perfect for a romantic meal


“There are almost as many legends about honey’s aphrodisiac powers as there are varieties of this sweet syrup,” says Reiley. It is traditionally offered at Indian weddings to symbolise the sweetness of life. In addition, the word honeymoon stems from a wish for a sweet marriage. Furthermore, it has been used as a symbol of fertility. And Hippocrates, the famed Greek physician, proscribed it for sexual vigour. He was also fond of administering a drink of milk and honey to educe sexual ecstasy.”

Best place to get it: New Zealand. This is one of the few places in the world that produces Manuka honey, the most beneficial form of honey. What makes it so special? It has a higher content of enzymes that produce natural hydrogen peroxide which act as an antibacterial too. 


"Chocolate contains chemicals that have the ability to elevate mood and a caffeine-like boost of energy," Reiley shares. "But it would take more chocolate than most of us are willing to eat in one sitting to actually feel the benefits."

Still, chocolate and Valentine's Day are pretty much synonymous.

Best place to get it: Switzerland. Step away from your typical boxed chocolate and discover the heavenly sweet treats created in Switzerland. Teuscher is considered one of the top chocolatiers in the world, famous for their natural ingredients and high-end creations. Dark champagne truffle, anyone?

An assortment of fine chocolates in white, dark, and milk chocolate. Photo: ShutterstockAn assortment of fine chocolates in white, dark, and milk chocolate. Photo: Shutterstock

Chilli pepper 

“A tiny nibble can have an aphrodisiac effect. A pinch of chilli pepper can raise body temperatures and get you in the mood to tear off your clothes,” says Reiley. “It also makes lips plump up with kissable softness and desirability. In fact, it is said that all the heat can telegraph the visual cues of a sexual flush.”

Best place to get it: The Caribbean, which is home to some of the hottest chile varieties on earth. To heat up your relationship, have a taste of jerk chicken or pork, one of the region's well-known specialities.  


"[Coffee] offers many of the benefits chocolate is supposed to give, but in a single serving. The perfect ending to a romantic meal, coffee can elevate mood, give a burst of energy at just the right moment and, bonus, it's acidity can help aid digestion," shares Reiley.

Best place to get it: Costa Rica. For native Costa Ricans, coffee reigns supreme. And the industry itself, which is steeped in history, is a driving factor. This Central American country is absolutely brimming with premium coffee. Sample they best of the best and even stay on a coffee plantation on Insight Guides’ Costa Rica Eco Adventure

A cup of Cafe' latte. Photo: ShutterstockA creamy cup of caffé latte is the ideal way to end a romantic dinner. Photo: Shutterstock


“The oyster just may be the most evocative culinary symbol of passion,” explains Reiley. “They’re loaded with zinc. And zinc is a key nutrient for testosterone production. It’s important for stimulation libido in both men and women.” 

Best place to get it: Denmark. Limfjorden in Denmark has the largest remaining wild oyster bed of the European oyster – oysters that Julius Caesar allegedly invaded Britain for. 


“Even without knowing its nutritional impact, it’s easy to see why watermelon is a food of seduction. It is valentine pink in colour. And watermelon’s flesh is an emblem of summer, hot days in the sun and lots of skin. Even in the manner in which it can be eaten, watermelon is sexy,” adds Reiley.

Best place to get it: South Africa. It is believed this is where the watermelon originated as it is the only country where watermelon reaches its maximum genetic diversity, giving sweet, bland and bitter forms. For some of the sweetest and juiciest watermelon, visit South Africa on Insight Guides’ South Africa: Cape Peninsula to Victoria Falls trip