From the day early man realized that seasoning could make a meal taste better, spices have been a thing of desire both for the kitchen and the bedroom. I’m not sure why the story of so many spices became tied with sexual prowess and fertility. But their early reputation sparked men to risk their lives and travel the world to obtain the most potent and flavorful spices. And for saffron aphrodisiac benefits put the ingredients near the top of the list of the world’s most legendary spices.
Is saffron an aphrodisiac?
In many cultures, golden saffron was considered most effective as an aphrodisiac when used on women. According to one Greek myth, eating saffron for a week would make a woman irresistible to her lover. But the Romans adopted a slightly differing opinion, using saffron to scent the baths of both aristocratic gentlemen and their female lovers.
Saffron health benefits
Saffron’s benefits go well beyond seductively scenting a bath. The many health benefits of saffron might surprise you. Let’s start with safranal, the compound that gives saffron its unique aroma. Studies show it may help improve mood and memory. (And if the Romans are to be believed, it might also put you in the mood.)
So powerful is saffron’s mood elevating ability that multiple trials have found this spice successful in treating clinical depression. Although results showed some positive effect, the trials are all preliminary studies so don’t go reaching in the spice drawer to treat clinical illness just yet.
The link between saffron and weight loss
Some researchers also believe that nutrients in saffron may be successful in supporting weight loss. Studies, like this one from Nutrition Research, demonstrate that saffron extract is useful in curbing snacking. The randomized, placebo controlled study relied on overweight but healthy women to self record daily in nutrition journals. According to the journals, the saffron reduced snacking frequency.
The theory behind the study was that the mood-boosting effects of saffron would naturally curb urges to snack. Results of clinical trials like this one are certainly promising. But to the best of my knowledge at the time of writing, there is no prescribed amount of saffron to take to support weight loss. However, I have read multiple accounts of enthusiasts of this spice drinking saffron tea as an aid in controlling weight. I highly recommend checking with your doctor before starting a saffron tea weight loss plan.
Saffron aphrodisiac benefits
Earlier I touched on saffron’s historical aphrodisiac reputation, which was based mainly on the spice’s aroma, golden hue and relative scarcity. But aphrodisiac saffron may have more to offer from a nutritional standpoint. In fact, thanks to a study in 2011 at Canada’s Guelph University, we now know that there’s something to the folkloric claims. The research showed that saffron, (along with ginseng), improves sexual function in both men and women.
Saffron benefits for men
But there may be additional benefits of saffron for men. It may not be impactful for all men but a study published in 2012 demonstrates that nutritional benefits of saffron improve sexual function in men on antidepressants. In this double blind, placebo controlled trial, men diagnosed with a major depressive disorder complaining of erectile dysfunction were assigned to take 15mg of saffron, twice each day. The International Index of Erectile Function was used to assess any changes in sexual function. By week four, those administered saffron showed a significant improvement in sexual function and sexual satisfaction over the control group. (It is believed that treatment with saffron may also improve sex drive in women on certain antidepressants.)
Saffron milk benefits
You may have heard of the Indian drink Kessar Doodh or saffron milk. It is a drink made from saffron steamed in warm milk and sweetened or blended with additional spices. Users say the benefits of saffron with milk include improving skin health. It is possibly true, since a noted property of saffron nutrition is an abundance of antioxidants. But although saffron is commonly used for skin health, I’ve yet to hear this beauty regime endorsed by a medical professional. Nevertheless, it makes a delicious and exotic drink!
Cooking with saffron
The slightly pungent, herbal taste and stunning hue dominate in the cuisines of the Middle East But its allure crosses cultures, adding spice to Europe’s glamorous Mediterranean coast. It provides that certain something that gives bouillabaisse and paella their unique flavor.
Saffron aphrodisiac recipes
Although it is expensive, saffron is a fun spice to experiment with in cooking. It adds depth of color to pale broths–and cocktails. Here’s my favorite Champagne cocktail, which uses saffron to give the pale gold wine a glowing, golden hue.
From an alluring ingredient in a seafood paella to the earthy element in a healing tea, (this is our closest recipe to saffron milk), saffron uses are wildly varied and limited only by imagination…and maybe your wallet!
This article was written in 2010 and most recently updated in April, 2021.
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