The key to a woman's heart is chocolate, or more specifically, phenylethylamine.
A number of foods, including dark chocolate, contain compounds that boost that lovin' feeling in the heart and in the brain. So this Valentine's Day, cozy up with that special someone for some surprising heart-healthy treats that will get you ready for love.
In-the-Mood Dinner Food
Oysters have long been considered an aphrodisiac. Their appearance might be part of the appeal. But oysters are also a great source of libido-lifting zinc, according to Amy Jamieson-Petonic, a registered dietitian at the Cleveland Clinic.
Zinc has been linked to improved testosterone production, which can help men get in the mood.
Another hormone-heightening food is avocado.
"Avocados are high in vitamin B6, which increases hormone production and tends to reduce erectile dysfunction in men," Jamieson-Petonic said.
Avocados have also been shown to lower the "bad" low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and raise the "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) variety, which can help keep the heart healthy long term.
Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids -- so-called "heart-healthy fats" that can help reduce blood pressure and improve circulation.
Garlic might not be ideal for kissing, but it's great for sex.
"Garlic is high in a chemical called 'allicin,' which tends to increases blood flow to the sex organs," Jamieson-Petonic said.
Guys might also want to consider a sausage and sauerkraut, Jamieson-Petonic said, citing a study that found eating sauerkraut made men feel sexier.
Get Closer Over Dessert
It might be hard to get close right after garlic and sauerkraut. But a chocolately, nutty or fruity dessert can cleanse the pallet and sweeten the mood.
"Dark chocolate contains serotonin, which is a chemical that helps to increase your mood," Jamieson-Petonic said. And chocolate's other mood-lifting compound, phenylethylamine, can "mimic the feeling of being in love."
Boost Blood Flow
Nuts are a great treat for the heart. But almonds are an especially great source of zinc, selenium, vitamin E, and arginine, which can help increase circulation and improve erectile function, Jamieson-Petonic said.
Strawberries and citrus fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, are high in folic acid and vitamin C, making them a great choice for reproductive health.
A glass of red wine with Valentine's Day dinner can also help get blood flowing.
"When you're looking at being in love and getting a little close, you want to make sure blood flow is really good," Jamieson-Petonic said.