You've probably heard that oysters are an aphrodisiac, known to improve libido and get those sex hormones raging. Slurping a plateful over a glass of wine or two can certainly feel sexy, but do these shellfish have any legit powers? That's the question we posed to two dietitians, and the answer is complicated at best.
The rumors about oysters have been swirling since Roman times, Dana White, RD, a certified athletic trainer and author of Healthy Instant Pot Cookbook, told POPSUGAR. "Today they remain a delicate, elegant, and downright romantic food, but the facts to support them being an aphrodisiac are lacking."
That said, "oysters are an amazing source of zinc. Three ounces of cooked oysters contain almost 500 percent of the daily recommendation," Dana noted, in addition to nutrients like magnesium, iron, and vitamin B12. All of these can help keep your energy up on date night, but the benefits of zinc may go beyond that. In animal studies, zinc has been shown to improve sexual performance and libido — a small but potentially significant link between oysters and sexual health.
"While many say the aphrodisiac claims of oysters are just a placebo, zinc is important for testosterone synthesis — a fundamental aspect of male libido," Maggie Michalczyk, RD, told POPSUGAR. Still, "the jury is out on whether an increase in consumption would actually make a difference when it comes to stimulating sexual desire."
Dana agreed. "While a deficiency of zinc can have a negative impact on sexual maturation and performance, slurping a ton of oysters won't enhance this or get you in the mood," she said. If you're deficient, your physician can help you up your intake with supplements and other whole food sources. Otherwise, if you enjoy oysters, go ahead and share some with a partner — "as long as they are fresh," Dana said. "Food poisoning is not romantic!"