Rye Bay Scallop Week starts immediately after Valentine’s Day this February. Registered dietitian Bryony Campion MSc RD explains why romantic couples should choose to come to Rye and check into one of its beautiful hotels, guest houses or holiday cottages.
Marine molluscs have long been reputed in folk-lore to help increase libido and have been eaten for their aphrodisiac properties since Roman times. The ancient physician Galen prescribed oysters as a cure for declining sexual desire and Cassanova himself was said to have breakfasted on 50 a day. Scallops too have long been associated with passion with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, legendarily floating ashore on a scallop shell.
But can shellfish really help to pep-up a romantic weekend? Studies reported in 2005 certainly show that oysters (a relative of scallops) are high in amino acids called D-aspartic acid (D-Asp) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). These chemicals have previously been shown to increase sex hormone production when administered to animals which could in turn increase sexual activity. Although by no means conclusive, Professor George Fisher of Barry University, Miami, who carried out the study has been reported as saying this may be “the first scientific evidence of some substance” in this area. It has been stressed, however, that the shellfish would need to be consumed raw to be most effective as cooking them would reduce the quantity of the D-Asp and NDMA molecules!
Beyond their reputed aphrodisiac properties, scallops are known to be a good source of lean protein and omega-3 fatty acids, both important as part of a healthy diet, and are high in essential vitamins and minerals such as B12, phosphorous, magnesium and potassium. They are also a moderately good source of zinc, a mineral important for the production of healthy sperm, with a four ounce portion providing over 20% of the daily requirement.
So, although the scientific jury is still out as to whether shellfish can directly improve your sex-life scallops can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet to help you feel and stay well.
Bryony Campion MSc
Bryony Campion is a local dietitian from Rye, providing care for people in areas such as IBS, IBD and weight management. Enquiries to ukdietitian.co.uk/contact.