Photographed by Ruby Yeh.
Researchers at Santa Chiara Regional Hospital in Trento, Italy may have taken the tale of Eve and the forbidden fruit a bit too literally. In a new study published in the Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics, the aforementioned scientists suggest that regular daily apple consumption can better women’s sex lives.
The logic behind this apple aggrandizement? Like red wine, chocolate, and other supposed aphrodisiacs, these fruits contain polyphenols and antioxidants, which can stimulate blood flow to your sexual organs and help (ahem) set the mood. In addition, their skins are rich in phloridzin, a phytoestrogen (plant-based compound similar to the female sex hormone estradiol) that could, theoretically, either mimic or inhibit this sex drive determinant.
In order to support the theory that an apple a day helps get women laid, the researchers analyzed 731 “healthy young sexually active Italian women” between ages 18 and 43. “Healthy,” among other factors, was ascribed to women with no history of sexual disorders or depression who were also not currently taking prescription drugs.
Subjects reported their daily apple consumption and eating habits and completed the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI), which features questions such as “Over the past four weeks, how often did you feel sexually aroused (‘turned on’) during sexual activity or intercourse?” and “Over the past four weeks, how often did you maintain your lubrication (‘wetness’) until completion of sexual activity or intercourse?”
The researchers divided the women into two groups: those who ate apples on a daily basis and those who averaged less than one apple per day. Analysis of each groups’ FSFI responses led the scientists to conclude "daily apple use is associated with higher FSFI scores in sexually active female patients, thus increasing their…overall sexual function."
Now, before you make a beeline for your local produce stand, the scientists themselves noted that this is a potential, not definite, link. First of all, the sample size in question is fairly small. Second, it’s likely the women with fruit-heavy diets led healthier lifestyles overall. Third, the impact of phytoestrogen on health is difficult to delineate. Research shows the compounds may even pose a health risk — just think of the controversy over soy products. (And, what if the apple lovers also bore a deep appreciation of grapes? The study was conducted in one of the wine capitals of the world, after all.)
In brief, correlation does not equal causation. However, it is a well-known fact that apples boast a myriad of health benefits, so libido booster or no, why not hedge your bets?