Fenugreek has been the go-to botanical for Near-East shamen and healers since the Bronze Age, and science is finally catching up with what the tribal priesthood knew all along – that fenugreek may have benefits for testosterone levels, skin conditions, blood sugar, breastfeeding and more.
The versatile plant comes in many forms: an herb, appearing as dried or fresh leaves; a spice, in the form of seeds; and as a vegetable proper, in sprouts and microgreens. In the wild it's a white flowering plant that grows upwards to 3 feet tall.
Breast milk is unquestionably the best food to serve a newborn, but some women may be unable to produce a sufficient amount. Fenugreek tea, a staple of midwives, was shown through a 14-day study in 77 new mothers to increase breast milk production. In another study, the volume of pumped breast milk increased from around 1.15 ounces in the control and placebo groups to 2.47 ounces in the fenugreek group.
Fenugreek provides a special bonus for men, as well. One study tracked testosterone levels across an 8-week weight lifting program by 30 men. One half of the group were provided 500 mg of fenugreek daily, and the other a control. At the end of the two-month test, the fenugreek group showed an increase in testosterone – and a 2 percent reduction in body fat! That increase in testosterone appears to carry over into the bedroom, as well: a separate study provided 30 men with 600 mg of fenugreek daily for 6 weeks, and showed a marked increase in strength and sexual function in the majority of participants.
And both sexes can benefit from how fenugreek affects metabolic conditions such as diabetes. In a study of type I diabetics, subjects who consumed 50 grams of fenugreek daily demonstrated a capacity to improve urinary blood sugar levels by 54 percent, and reduce total and LDL cholesterol. Fenugreek also reduced fasting blood sugar levels by an average of 38.05 mg/dl in a meta-analysis, and by 13.4 percent in another study.
There is one small caveat: it's not exactly low-calorie. One tablespoon of whole fenugreek seeds is 35 calories.