According to the History Channel, there are many theories about the origins of Valentine's Day. One is that Saint Valentine was a priest who lived in Rome during the third century when Claudius II outlawed marriage, believing that single men made for better soldiers than married ones. Valentine went against Claudius and married couples in secret. He was subsequently put to death. Whatever the history of Valentine's Day, it is a holiday that is all about romance, and certain foods and meals are ideal for amorous occasions. While some foods have chemical effects on sexual urges, others simply have symbolic ties to romantic figures.
The chemical zinc stimulates sexual urges, especially for men, according to Aine McAteer, a writer for Oprah.com. Not only do oysters contain high levels of zinc, they are also considered to be romantically stimulating because they physically resemble the female sex organ. Per the website Eat Something Sexy, Giacomo Casanova, the promiscuous 18th-century Italian adventurer, reportedly ate 50 oysters daily to keep up his libido. Sandro Botticelli's painting "The Birth of Venus," which depicts the goddess of love rising from a clam shell, also enhances the oyster's romantic symbolism.
Chocolate is a Valentine's Day standard. To the ancient Aztecs, chocolate was a gift of nourishment from the Gods, says SheKnows.com. It was a particular favorite of Montezuma's who reputedly drank up to 50 cups of hot cocoa a day before stepping into his harem. Because of the endorphins that chocolate releases in the brain, it makes a person feel happier, hence its reputation as a comfort food. Since it contains magnesium, it also makes a person feel relaxed. The upshot of chocolate is that it comes in a variety. From dark chocolate and milk chocolate candies, to ice cream and hot chocolate, it's a food that can treat almost any palate.
Since they are heart-shaped, strawberries make for an idea Valentine treat, especially when dipped in chocolate. Upping their romantic quality is the fact that ancient Romans associated strawberries with Venus. The fact that they're red -- a color associated with love -- makes them all the more appropriate.
Hummus is a dish made from pureed chickpeas and a variety of spices. In the Middle East, especially, mashed chickpeas were said to cure impotence while also acting as sexual stimulants, according to writer Habeeb Salloum in his novel "From the Lands of Figs and Olives." Hummus has also proven to increase circulation.
Thanks to its phallic shape, the banana has long been considered a food that acts as an aphrodisiac. According to Gourmet Sleuth, there is an Islamic myth that states that Adam and Eve used banana leaves, not fig leaves, to conceal their nudity. In addition, bananas are stocked with B vitamins and potassium, both of which bolster sex hormones.