After the whipped dalgona coffee sent social media into a frenzy, a new trend has emerged in the world of lattes. If nothing else saffron gives your beverage a beautiful and Insta-worthy yellow, but is it actually good for you? Our dietitian explains.
If you, like most of us, are obsessed with coffee, chances are you’d happily drink it all day long (I know I would, if there were no repercussions). But sadly, that’s not the most sensible thing to do, given its high caffeine content and all.
So, is there anything you can turn to that will hit that buzz-giving warm spot your beloved brew does, instead of diving into your third (or fourth or fifth or sixth…) cuppa? Turns out, saffron lattes might just let you have your cake – and eat (or drink) it, too.
What is a saffron latte?
Think: a spicy cup of warm milk… sounds absolutely delicious, right?! There’s a bunch of different recipes online, but the general gist of the ingredients list is saffron, other herbs and spices like turmeric, cinnamon and peppercorns, the occasional sweetener and your milk of choice. In the US, you can even skip the hard work and buy premade saffron latte powder – but this convenience is yet to hit Aussie shores.
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How healthy is a saffron latte?
On the health front, I think saffron lattes have a lot of potential. Just like many other herbs and spices, saffron is packed with the good stuff, including beta-carotene for healthy eyes, magnesium for muscle function and iron for oxygen transport. It has even been studied for its effect on brain health and PMS – so watch this space.
As a whole, herbs and spices are packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, so anything else you choose to throw into the mix will be a good thing, too.
The catch, however, is that the quantity of saffron you’d use in a latte (or any other herb or spice, for that matter) is likely to be miniscule, so it wouldn’t have a great influence on your overall health.
The milk you choose to base your latte on is a key factor in the healthfulness of your cuppa. Many recipes online call for trendy plant-based alternatives like coconut milk or almond milk – but these aren’t exactly my first preference in the milk department.
You see, coconut milk is packed with saturated fat, which isn’t good news for your ticker. Almond milk, on the other hand, isn’t much more than water, with a very low percentage of actual almonds. Neither choice live up to the protein-packed goodness of plain old dairy and usually don’t come fortified with calcium, either.
Something else to consider when whipping up your at-home saffron latte is the addition of sweeteners. You might be surprised to learn that while honey and maple syrup seem like a healthier solution than table sugar, they’re still counted as added sugar and so should be minimised in a healthy diet.
The verdict on saffron lattes
All in all, saffron lattes could be a brilliant solution to minimising non-stop trips to the coffee machine. For the healthiest brew, I’d suggest opting for a base of reduced-fat cow’s milk or calcium-fortified soy, and packing it with flavour not only from saffron, but any other spice that takes your fancy. That way, you’ll get maximum flavour and nutrition without the addition of any type of sugar – and your health will thank you for it.
Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practicing dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.