Are oysters really an aphrodisiac?

It’s a tale as old as time, one that seemingly has its origins as far back as the Roman Empire.

Legendary 18th century lover Giacomo Girolamo Casanova claimed to eat 50 oysters for breakfast, and credited his sexual prowess to this supposed virility-booster.

Whether you eat them raw, undressed or dressed up, are oysters truly an aphrodisiac? Sadly, we’re about to burst your bubble – the answer is a bit more complicated!

To date, scientists have not scientifically proven oysters to be an aphrodisiac (or any other fruit or plant, for that matter).

In 2005, a team of researchers appeared to have vindicated Casanova’s claims when publications reported that a study had proved bivalve molluscs (which include clams, oysters, mussels and scallops) to have desire-enhancing properties.

That study, presented at the American Chemical Society by George Fisher from Miami’s Barry University, found that mussels contained the amino acid, D-Aspartic acid, which increased the level of sex hormones in lab rats.

The effect of this amino acid is still being studied, but experts believe that it may increase the level of testosterone in sedentary men - although it's not clear what other impact that would have.

A 2015 paper in the journal Sexual Medicine Reviews written by Michael Krychman found that the bivalves contain zinc – linked to testosterone production and spermatogenesis – as well as "specific amino acids and serotonin, which are integral in the neural pathway of the pleasure response,” The Smithsonian quoted him as saying.

But that still does not mean oysters _actually _have an aphrodisiac effect - although it could be a beneficiary of the placebo effect.

Desire is a complicated process, and it is highly unlikely that sexual desire can be influenced by just one food.

So, while the experts are still out to lunch on the matter, nothing is stopping us from indulging in a succulent oyster at Gauteng’s 12th Oyster, Wine and Food Festival.

This three-day festival at Montecasino offers an array of mouth-watering gourmet food, wine and, live entertainment.

Featuring 40 wine estates with a selection of over 300 wines, craft beer breweries, a Wine Theatre, live music and, the star of the show - the oyster, festival-goers are in for a treat. In addition to the festival’s variety of tantalising oysters, foodies will be spoiled for choice with delicious braaied prawns and a selection of culinary treats from over 50 gourmet outlets.

For more information and to get your tickets, visit www.montecasino.co.za.

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