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What Foods Produce Pheromones in the Body?

author image Jean Jenkins
Jean Jenkins has been writing professionally since 1994. She has written medical research materials for the American Parkinson's Association, the Colorado Neurological Institute and the Autism Society of America. Jenkins has specialized in neurology, labor and delivery, high-risk obstetrics and autism spectrum disorders. She holds a Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Colorado.
What Foods Produce Pheromones in the Body?
What attracts humans is chemistry.

Sexual attraction may be more science than seduction, making “chemistry” between people a reality. National Public Radio reported that scientists in 1959, first identified chemical triggers sent and received by living organisms, and named them pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals sent from one body to another, within the same species, and are used to communicate danger, marking territory or attracting a mate. The good news is you may have control over how you attract a mate by the foods you eat.

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Natural Pheromones

Pheromone research in humans has primarily focused on natural chemicals and odors that are concentrated in the skin, the largest organ of the human body. According to the December 31, 2008 "Journal of Neuroscience," an MRI study of female brains, conducted by Dr. Chen from Rice University in Houston, showed a strong, unconscious response to male sexual sweat vs. little to no response to other types of male sweat, such as through exercising. Dr. Chen concluded that “findings provide neural evidence that socioemotional meanings, including the sexual ones, are conveyed in the human sweat.”

Replicating Pheromones

Pumpkin pies sexy? Who knew?
Pumpkin pies sexy? Who knew?

Research cannot yet guarantee that food produces pheromones per se, but evidence is clear that certain foods increase libido and stimulate attraction. Dr. Hirsch and Dr. Gruss of the Smell and Taste Research Foundation in Chicago investigated the impact of smells on arousal of men. One study clearly showed a 40 percent increase in penile blood flow when lavender and pumpkin pie were smelled together. Thirty odors were tested and “the direct connection between odors and sex response cannot be denied.”

Since the senses of smell and taste are so closely related, certain foods could trigger sexual appetites, even through the skin.

Olfactory Pheromones

Olfactory pertains to the sense of smell. According to the Smell and Taste Research Foundation, the following smells caused a reaction in men worth noting: lavender and pumpkin, black licorice and donut, orange, cola, buttered popcorn, and vanilla especially enticed older men.

Aphrodisiac Pheromones

Some like it hot.
Some like it hot.

Oysters have long been suspected to have an aphrodisiac effect. According to Discovery Health, it may be due to their high level of zinc, which is essential for a healthy reproductive system; they also increase testosterone and libido. Almonds and asparagus are high in Vitamin E, which affects sex hormones. Chocolate contains phenylamine, associated with raising mood and libido. Chilies contain capsaicin, the substance in hot peppers, spicy foods and curries; this releases endorphins, which in turn, can arouse sexual desire.

Brain-Food Connection

Love potion number pine
Love potion number pine

Sexual response begins in the brain, your largest sex organ. In "Psychology Today," Dr. G. Frank Lawlis points out other foods that stimulate sexual response in the brain, as well as increase sex hormones: bananas, granola, oatmeal, peanuts, cashews, walnuts, dairy, green vegetables, root vegetables, garlic, ginseng, chickpeas and seeds. Papaya has compounds that act like estrogen in women. Before bed, try eating pine nuts, which have been ground up and used for centuries to make love potion.

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