For centuries, raw oysters have been touted as aphrodisiacs, and now, research indicates it may be true. A team of chemists from the US and Italy say that mussels, clams and oysters contain compounds (D-aspartic acid and N-methyl-D-aspartate INMDAD that have been shown to be effective in releasing sexual hormones such as testosterone and estrogen.

"We found there might be a scientific basis for the aphrodisiac properties of these mollusks," says researcher George Fisher, a professor of chemistry from Barry University in Miami Shores, Florida.

Where’s The Proof?

But one expert isn't so convinced. "The findings are certainly interesting, but we still have a ways to go before saying that there is scientific evidence that clams, oysters and scallops boost libido," says food-myth expert Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

He says important questions still remain, such as: Do D-aspartic acid and NMDA still lead to the release of sexual hormones when they are digested? And, do they release enough estrogen or testosterone to matter?

"Testosterone is thought to play a more major role in libido in men and women than estrogen alone; in fact, estrogen release could reduce libido in women. And while it's hard to predict what, if anything, mollusk-induced estrogen release would do in men, it probably would not increase sex drive," he says.

In addition, Shmerling wonders if animal studies linking D-aspartic acid and NMDA to the release of sex hormones is even relevant to humans.

"This is a good example of the headlines getting well ahead of the science," Shmerling says. "It will take much more compelling evidence—with human subjects—to prove a link between seafood and libido."

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