Sex and the Ziti

Read more

The concept of aphrodisiac foods has fascinated the world for approximately 5,000 years.

According to lore, certain foods increase sexual desire and potency, mostly based on their provocative shapes and textures. For instance, the word “avocado” comes from the Aztec “ahuactl” (which translates to “testicle”), hence the belief that avocados are a great form of culinary foreplay.

In reality, there are no foods worthy of an x-rating.

That said, here are some thoughts to keep in mind when sharing dinner with a hottie you want to have for dessert.

– Avoid crucifeous vegetables (i.e.: broccoli and cauliflower), beans, and undercooked starchy vegetables, which will result in an increase of gas.
-B vitamins, iron, zinc, and healthy fats all help contribute to the production of sex hormones. Fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and lean meats are the best sources of these nutrients, so be sure to have them every day. The less processed your diet, the more of these nutrients you’ll get!
– Pineapples and bananas contain bromelain, an enzyme which some studies indicate helps increase male libido. In order to reap these benefits, though, these foods should be consumed several times a week.
– Avoid heavy foods (i.e.: cream-based sauces, rich stews) that take a long time to digest and lower your energy levels.
– For men concerned with their taste, having fruits like pineapple every day will sweeten things up. On the contrary, meat and dairy products tend to give a more acid, sour taste.

And to go back to those avocados (the “testicles” in Aztec,) here are the excellent properties of this fruit, albeit not necessarily sexual:

Half an avocado provides 160 calories, 14.7 grams of fat, 6.7 grams of fiber, and 487.4 milligrams of potassium.

To put it into perspective, that’s a banana’s worth of potassium and as much fiber as two slices of whole grain bread.

Many people get hung up on the fat (when eating a 2,000 calorie diet, the recommendation is that your total fat intake not surpass the 65 gram mark). The fat in avocados is a tremendously healthy one known as monounsaturated fat – the same one that largely makes up olive oil. Avocados even beat olive oil when it comes to their proportion of a specific monounsaturated fat known as oleic acid. Oleic acid (sometimes referred to as “omega-9”) has been shown to lower total and bad cholesterol while simultaneously increasing good cholesterol.  Even better, it is a great defense against the development of atherosclerosis (the collection of fatty deposits in our artery walls that restrict bloodflow).

Please do not fall prey to the notion that “eating fat makes me fat”. It is entirely untrue. Excess calories lead to weight gain.

Because there are 9 calories per gram of fat (as opposed to 4 calories per gram of protein or carbohydrate), it is a more concentrated source of calories, but, for example, if you eat copious amounts of rice (a fat-free food), you will most certainly gain weight.

Avocados not only already have vitamins A, E, and K, they are also a tremendous tool to help us absorb nutrients from other foods.

In fact, a team of researchers at Ohio State decided to study this, and the astonishing results were published in the March 2005 issue of the Journal of Nutrition.

When it came to eating a salad with high amounts of alpha and beta carotene (compounds found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables which our body converts into Vitamin A), people who included avocados in this salad absorbed 8.3 more times alpha carotene and 13.6 times more beta carotene than those who skipped the fat!

Avocados are also high in lutein, a fat-soluble pigment which helps keep eyes, hearts, and – in men’s case – prostates healthy. Our body does not make lutein, so it is imperative we get it from our diet.

Avocados, much like bananas, ripen very quickly. If you are planning to prepare a meal with the avocado you buy today, be sure lightly press your thumb against it to test for its softness. Otherwise, go for one that is a little hard and allow it to ripen in your kitchen – at room temperature – for a few days.

Even kitchen-phobes have no excuse for not enjoying this delicious fruit – all you need is a cutting board and knife.

NYRemezcla contributor Andy Bellatti is a Buenos Aires native pursuing his Master’s in Nutrition at NYU. He lives in Brooklyn with  his cat Tyler. This column is adapted from Andy’s nutrition blog Small Bites where he brings “fad-free nutrition to the web, one post at a time” in a fun, informative way.