Are Oysters Really Aphrodisiacs?

As far as aphrodisiacs go, the oyster is the closest thing we have to a natural, edible sex booster (sorry, chocolate).

Photo courtesy Corbis

I still smile whenever I see a green M&M. That's because from fourth grade to middle school, my hormone-fueled classmates and I—along with millions of other kids—perpetuated the rumor that the green ones, duh, make you horny.

Naturally, this inspired a pal of mine to serve only the green candies in a bowl at a middle-school mixer he hosted, and each time a girl innocently helped herself, all the boys snickered.

Oysters have long been the green M&M of adulthood. It's said that Casanova fueled his sex drive by scarfing down scores of them every day—50 at breakfast alone. But can eating a slimy mollusk really alter your body's chemistry to the point of arousal? And should you make it your go-to order on Valentine's Day (and maybe every other date night, too)?

As far as aphrodisiacs go, the oyster is the closest thing we have to a natural edible sex booster (sorry, chocolate). According to an American Chemical Society study, bivalve mollusks (like clams, oysters, and mussels) are teeming with two amino acids that, when injected into mice, show a significant spike in sex-hormone levels in both males (testosterone) and females (progesterone). Oysters are also packed with zinc, which can increase sperm count, making you more virile and ratcheting up the intensity of your climax.

But before you order a dozen on the half-shell, know this: No legit subsequent study has shown that those aforementioned amino acids have any effect on human hormones, let alone our libidos. And while zinc can multiply your swimmer population, oysters are hardly the only way to get it; grass-fed beef, shiitake mushrooms, and yes, even peanuts (hello, green M&Ms) all hold roughly the same levels of zinc.

—Mike Dawson is a magazine writer and editor and a regular contributor to Details.

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