We know that mussels were among the seafoods consumed in ancient Greece. It was a time and place in which it was believed that all seafoods were the emblems of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. And, as such, the ancient Greeks believed mussels’ benefits to include potent aphrodisiac powers.
Are mussels an aphrodisiac?
We know that the ancient Greeks weren’t the only people to celebrate aphrodisiac mussels. A tradition of eating mussels as a prelude to making love continued through many cultures.
So the answer to the question “are mussels aphrodisiac?” is yes, if folklore is your guide. But modern science has found some even better ways to prove a natural link between mussels and sex, including nutrients in mussels that might give your sex life a boost.
A scientific study naming mussels an aphrodisiac food
In 2005 a group of Italian and American researchers presented their findings to the American Chemical Society that a Mediterranean variety of mussels contained amino acids linked with boosting sexual hormone production. And it turns out that these amino acids, D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartic acid, are found in all bivalves.
More aphrodisiac seafood
This means whatever potential effect mussels have on libido, the same goes for scallops, oysters and clams. (Clams offer some other key nutrients to support men’s sexual health. Check out why we named them to the 10 Best Foods for Men.)
Unfortunately, there have never been any follow-up studies on to what extent D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartic acid raise sexual hormone levels in humans or how many mussels you would need to eat to give your sex life the desired boost.
Mussels benefits for fertility
In 2012, some of the researchers making the initial discovery that bivalves contain amino acids linked with sexual hormone production did eventually conduct a follow-up study on D-aspartic acid. But this research was focused specifically on the potential to improve sperm quality.
The results showed the potential for mussels to improve sperm quality and perhaps aid couples trying to conceive.
Additional studies have examined D-aspartic acid’s potential to increase testosterone. But the work is still inconclusive, according to this 2015 paper.
Additional mussels benefits for sexual health and overall health
But we don’t need to wait for lab studies to show us how the health benefits of mussels can make a positive impact on sexual health.
For starters, mussels provide lean protein, essential for the kind of sustained energy you need to run a marathon…or enjoy a long night of passionate sex.
Mussels nutritional information
Mussels not only offer about 20 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving, according to the USDA FoodData Central, but these gifts of the sea are also rich in nutrition to support sexual function including vitamins C and B6.
These mollusks are also an excellent source of iron, at about 30% of the daily value per serving. And they are considered a source of magnesium, selenium and zinc, all of which are nutrients considered essential to sexual health.
Mussels recipes and serving suggestions
Since our site is all about the pleasures of aphrodisiac foods, I would be leaving important details about mussels out if I failed to give you advice on how to enjoy these nutritious shellfish.
Mussels may seem intimidating to prepare but don’t be fooled. Steaming mussels is one of the most low-key cooking techniques you can possibly master. And once you learn how to steam mussels, they may become your go-to date night dish. (You can also bake or grill mussels but steaming helps them release their juices and creates a simple but elegant, self-saucing dish.)
As you can tell if you’ve ever looked through our index of seafood recipes, mussels are our favorite shellfish to cook. The only real trick to making mussels is learning how to clean them. Epicurious has a good guide to cleaning and debearding mussels.
They are incredibly easy to prep and steam. And with every bite, you’ll enjoy this aphrodisiac seafood and its potential sexual benefits.
More of our favorite recipes include:
This article was written in 2010 and most recently updated in 2021.
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