While oysters have enjoyed the status of being one of the best-loved aphrodisiacs known to mankind, much of their lust-enhancing fame was purely based on folklore. As the legend goes, the Greek love goddess Aphrodite rose out of the sea in an oyster shell, and the “guilty by association” rule kicked in for oysters. Centuries later, oysters are still benefiting from this association with Aphrodite and enjoy the reputation of enhancing the feelings of sexual desire and performance of those mortals who eat them.
Considered an aphrodisiac, and a symbolic food for romance, love and sexual prowess, men and women feast on oysters, considered a sensual delicacy from the sea, with the anticipation they will be taken to new passionate heights in the proverbial bedroom. Yet since there was no real scientific proof to back up the theory that oyster's are in fact an aphrodisiac, any positive, libido arousing results from consuming oysters was thought to be more from a placebo effect…than from an organic property in the oysters.
However, all that changed in 2005, when George Fisher, a professor of chemistry at Barry University, Miami, led a research team with graduate student Raul Mirza and Antimo D'Aniello, of the Laboratory of Neurobiology in Naples, conducted a series of experiments that ultimately led to one astonishing revelation (to paraphrase):
The amino acids found in oysters triggered a chain reaction of hormones in laboratory rats that ended with the production of testosterone in males and progesterone in females. According to document reports on the subject Fisher notes, "Increased levels of those hormones in the blood means you are more active sexually.”
Background: Using a process called high-performance li-quid chromatography to identify which amino acids were present and in what quantities, two unusual ones - D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) were found, which Fisher concludes, “are not the normal amino acids that Mother Nature uses, (…) you can't just find them in a vitamin shop."
Dr D'Aniello had found in earlier experiments that injecting these amino acids into rats triggered the above mentioned chain reaction of hormones that ended with the production of testosterone in males and progesterone in females.
With this knowledge also comes the realization that other molluscs such as mussels and clams may also contain similar “aphrodisiac” properties. In addition to having the above optimistic organic affects on one’s libido, oysters are also an extremely nutritionally balanced food with the following health benefits:
- Oysters contain protein, carbohydrates and lipids.
- Oysters are also extremely low in calories, with one dozen oysters containing approximately only 110 calories.
- Oysters are also full of vitamins, and contain omega-3 fatty acids – which are good for our skin, brain, and muscles.
To gain the proposed aphrodisiac benefits of oysters – they should be eaten raw, since cooking them reduces the quantity of D-Asp and NDMA molecules. According to oyster experts, spring is the best time to eat oysters, however, with the natural oyster farming practices here in the San Francisco Bay Area, oysters from Tomalas Bay, Calif. oyster farms such as Hog Island Oyster Co., Tomales Bay Oysters Company, and Drake's Bay Oyster Farm can be enjoyed year-round.
Still not a true believer in the aphrodisiac powers of oysters? There is also evidence to substantiate that the psychological impact of believing and/or “thinking” that oysters are an aphrodisiac can sometimes be strong enough to produce a greater sexual desire or performance - temporarily anyway.
It is also interesting to note that previous speculation about the aphrodisiac powers of oysters has centered on the refueling powers of their high zinc content. Zinc is found in sperm, and men reportedly lose between one and three milligrams per ejaculation. One could also conclude that some of the sexual powers of oysters lie in the fact that a 3 oz. serving of oysters provides approximately 76 mg (493% of the RDA) of the essential mineral zinc – which has been said to boost prostate health, and “anecdotally” boost or enhance sexual function as well. However, it is not recommended men overdue it on zinc supplementation, as research on zinc and prostate health reveals that while further investigation is warranted, “chronic zinc oversupply may play a role in prostate carcinogenesis.”
Until next time...keep the party going ~ Aprilanne