The Food of Love: Is It Working?

      December 07, 2007 08:28

      Many Koreans believe that certain foods like dog meat and eel boost sexual potency. How much truth is there in such old beliefs? Widely known as "stamina food," dog meat, eel, snake and venison are all rich in energy, protein and fat, making them good health supplements. When consumed with discretion, the fats contained in these foods can help the production of steroid reproductive hormones like DHEA and male hormones.

      But it depends on the context. "In the past, when malnutrition was rampant in Korea, people consumed these foods like supplements, and as men's sexual capacity is influenced by their overall health, people came to believe that they indeed have aphrodisiac properties," says Dr. Kwon Yong-uk of AG Clinic. "When pork and beef were rare, snake and dog meat, which was more easily available, may have helped to enhance sexual potency. But not anymore."

      In fact, excessive intake of stamina foods can diminish men's sexual capacity since the cholesterol they contain can damage blood vessels, which are critical to erections. Vegetables like garlic and leek are also regarded as stamina food when, as a matter of fact, they are good for blood vessels.

      Then what about oysters? They are high in zinc, known as the "sex mineral" as it partially forms the semen and facilitates sperm activity. Zinc also inhibits the aromatase enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen, assisting the secretion of male hormones. Two to three oysters contain the daily recommended intake of 11 mg of zinc, which positively affects sperm production. "But taken excessively, zinc can accumulate in the body and turn into toxic substance, so people should be careful," said Lee Geum-ju, the head of the nutrition team at East-West Neo Medical Center in Kyunghee University.

      As for ginseng, the Saponin contained in the root inhibits the formation of lipid peroxidation, preventing hyperlipidaemia, high blood pressure and arteriosclerosis. There is also clinical evidence supporting the correlation between Saponin and the number of sperm, sperm activity and erection.

      Nevertheless, even oysters and ginseng with their proven effectiveness are no miracle cure. Depending on the person and the amount of intake, they can even cause problems. "If a person consumes these foods for a long time, he may benefit from them to a certain degree, but too much intake in a short period can backfire. Be careful," warns Prof Moon Du-geon of Korea University's Urology Department.

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