Oysters are a type of shellfish that many consider a delicacy. Others may also consider them an aphrodisiac, that is, a food that stimulates sexual arousal. Although scientists have not proven their effects on libido, oysters contain several compounds that may improve sexual performance or desire.
Oysters are bivalve shellfish that are very nutritious and may provide some health benefits. There is a long history of people associating oysters with craving. The 18th century Italian author, Giacomo Casanova, is said to have eaten large quantities of oysters in particular because of their stimulating properties.
However, some controversy remains as to whether oysters are aphrodisiacs. Although they may contain nutrients, like zinc, that play a role in sexual function, oyster consumption is unlikely to specifically influence a person’s libido. A person can achieve a similar effect by following a healthy, varied and nutrient-dense diet, which may include oysters. In this article, we will see what aphrodisiacs are, if oysters are one, and their potential impact on libido and sexual performance.
What are aphrodisiacs, and how do people use them?
An aphrodisiac generally refers to a food or drug that arouses sexual desire. The term comes from the Latin name aphrodisiaca, which 17th century physicians used to describe a new class of pharmacological substances. According to a 2020 study, the medical profession has widely discredited aphrodisiacs since the late 1800s. However, by exchanging information about aphrodisiacs between the 16th and 19th centuries, people around the world improved their medical understanding of sex. .
An old review classifies aphrodisiacs into three types based on their mode of action:
- those that increase libido, potency or sexual pleasure.
The review explains that aphrodisiacs can act through several mechanisms:
- by increasing nitrous oxide to stimulate blood flow to the penis
- increased hormones such as testosterone
- stimulation of the nerves involved in sexual pleasure.
Aphrodisiacs can be taken in the form of tablets, foods or extracts from plants. If people consume excessive amounts of aphrodisiac foods or buy herbal products or medicines claiming to be aphrodisiacs, there may be a risk to their health.
Nutritional value of oysters
100 grams (g) of raw oysters contain:
calories: 81 kilocalories
lipids: 2.30 g
zinc: 16.6 milligrams (mg)
copper: 1.58 mg or 176% of a person’s daily value (DV)
vitamin B12: 16 micrograms (667% of the DV)
iron: 5.11 mg (28% DV)
magnesium: 22 mg (5% DV)
potassium: 168 mg (4% of DV)
selenium: 77 mcg (140% of DV)
Oysters are nutritious and contain many vitamins and minerals that can benefit your health. Here are some examples:
Protein: Oysters are a high source of protein and are relatively low in calories, which means they can help people feel fuller. Research suggests that higher protein diets may help reduce obesity. Protein is present in every cell, and an adequate supply is vital for maintaining healthy muscles, bones and tissues.
Zinc: Supports several body functions, such as immunity, wound healing, growth and development. This substance also plays a role in sexual function, which could explain why many people consider oysters an aphrodisiac.
Vitamin B12: A B vitamin that is important for healthy nerve tissue, brain function, and red blood cell production. When levels of this vitamin are low, people can suffer from nerve damage and fatigue.
Omega-3 fatty acids: Evidence indicates that these fatty acids may play a role in heart health, brain function, growth and development. They also have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
Iron: This mineral is vital for the proper functioning of hemoglobin in the blood. It is also an important safe source for growth, neurological development and the production of certain hormones. Other research suggests that low iron levels may contribute to sexual dissatisfaction, again indicating possible sexual benefit.
Magnesium: This mineral has many functions in the body, including muscle and nerve function, blood pressure regulation, and immune system support.
Potassium: An essential macromineral that supports key processes in the body, such as the functioning of the kidneys, heart, muscles and nervous system.
Selenium: An essential trace mineral that plays a key role in thyroid function and metabolism. It also contains antioxidant properties, which may help protect against cancer, heart disease, and cognitive decline.
Do oysters boost libido?
Oysters are saltwater molluscs that people eat like seafood. They contain or promote the production of nutrients and compounds that may enhance sexual performance, desire, or arousal. It can be:
One of the reasons people may associate oysters with sexual performance is because of their zinc content. A single oyster contains 5.5 milligrams (mg) of zinc, which is half the recommended daily amount for adult men and more than half for adult women. Some research indicates that zinc is essential for maintaining sexual health and testosterone levels. Also, it can have a positive effect on fertility. While many people associate testosterone with male libido, some evidence also suggests that small amounts of testosterone can positively influence female libido.
Oysters also contain D-aspartic acid, an amino acid that may have a role in boosting testosterone production. As such, it may play a similar role to zinc in stimulating sexual arousal.
Zinc may also help support levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that studies have shown is involved in sexual behavior. Dopamine is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward. According to research, it can improve erectile dysfunction in men and sexual response in women. However, no studies directly measure the effect of zinc, D-aspartic acid, or dopamine from oysters on libido. Therefore, their aphrodisiac effects are inconclusive.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Seafood, like oysters, is a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Some research suggests that omega-3s may help improve sexual performance. Scientists have studied the effects of omega-3s on the heart and cardiovascular system. For example, a 2020 review concluded that there is some evidence that these beneficial fats may help prevent heart disease.
She also adds that omega-3s are anti-inflammatory and improve vascular endothelial function, which controls blood flow through blood vessels. As such, they could theoretically improve blood flow to the genitals. Using a rat model of erectile dysfunction, a 2016 study found that omega-3 fatty acids decreased oxidative stress, thereby reducing damage to muscle cells and blood vessels in the penis, which restrict blood flow.
Although studies do not show that the omega-3 fatty acids in oysters directly boost libido, they may improve sexual performance, which could have an aphrodisiac effect in some people.
Other possible aphrodisiacs
An older study suggests that herbal aphrodisiacs could be an alternative to pharmacological drugs for some people. Although more research is still needed, some research supports the following herbal compounds as possible aphrodisiacs:
Aphrodisiacs are generally foods that stimulate sexual arousal. Although many people consider oysters to be an aphrodisiac, few studies confirm this. However, oysters contain nutrients, like zinc, that may help improve sexual performance. Although more research is needed to determine if oysters can boost libido, they are a good source of nutrition and possibly health benefits that people can include in their diets.