Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.The reason for its hefty price is its labor-intensive harvesting method, making the production costly.
Saffron is harvested by hand from the Crocus sativus flower, commonly known as the “saffron crocus.” The term “saffron” applies to the flower’s thread-like structures, or stigma.
It originated in Greece, where it was revered for its medicinal properties. People would eat saffron to enhance libido, boost mood, and improve memory.
Here are 10 impressive health benefits of saffron.
1.Promotes learning and memory retention: Recent studies have also demonstrated that saffron extract, specifically its crocin, is useful in the treatment of age related mental impairment. In Japan, saffron is encapsulated and used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, memory loss and inflammation.
2.In delayed puberty: In under developed girls, saffron has an overall stimulant effect. A pinch of saffron crushed in a table spoon of milk is useful to stimulate hormones and bring about desired effect.
3.To increase vitality: In low libido saffron aids as a sexual stimulant and can be consumed in a dose of a pinch in a glass of milk at bed time.
4.In patchy baldness: Saffron mixed in liquorice and milk makes an effective topical application to induce hair growth in alopecia.
5.Protection against cold: Saffron is a stimulant tonic and very effective to treat cold and fever; saffron mixed in milk and applied over the forehead quickly relieves cold.
6.Food Additives: Saffron is an excellent replacement for synthetic food additives- for eg: instead of FD and C yellow no 5: a synthetic food coloring agent that is a very common allergy trigger, Saffron’s glorious yellow could be an acceptable hypoallergenic choice.
With these kesar benefits known to us, this culinary treasure has to be used and especially in the winter months. Here are some serving ideas:
- For a wonderful marinade for fish, add saffron threads, garlic and thyme to vinegar.
- Use saffron to give cakes, pastries and cookies a buttery golden hue and a rich aroma.
- Cook biryanis with saffron combined with cloves, cinnamon, Indian bay leaves and nutmeg for a memorable treat.
- Crush a tiny piece of saffron into a glass of champagne or sparkling apple cider and turn the drink into a golden elixir.
- Coffee spiced with saffron and cardamom is a soothing and heart healthy drink.
- Add saffron and cinnamon to whole milk or yogurt and honey for a simple version of the famous Indian yogurt drink, lassi.
7.May Improve Mood and Treat Depressive Symptoms
Saffron is nicknamed the “sunshine spice.”
That’s not just due to its distinct color, but also because it may help brighten your mood.
In a review of five studies, saffron supplements were significantly more effective than placebos at treating symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression .
Other studies found that taking 30 mg of saffron daily was just as effective as Fluoxetine, Imipramine, and Citalopram — conventional treatments for depression. Additionally, fewer people experienced side effects from saffron compared to other treatments.
What’s more, both the saffron petals and thread-like stigma appear to be effective against mild-to-moderate depression.
While these findings are promising, longer human studies with more participants are needed before saffron can be recommended as a treatment for depression.
Saffron may help treat symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression, but more studies are needed before definite recommendations can be made.
8.May Have Cancer-Fighting Properties
Saffron is high in antioxidants, which help neutralize harmful free radicals. Free radical damage has been linked to chronic diseases, such as cancer .
In test-tube studies, saffron and its compounds have been shown to selectively kill colon cancer cells or suppress their growth, while leaving normal cells unharmed.
This effect also applies to skin, bone marrow, prostate, lung, breast, cervix, and several other cancer cells.
What’s more, test-tube studies have found that crocin — the main antioxidant in saffron — may make cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy drugs.
While these findings from test-tube studies are promising, the anticancer effects of saffron are poorly studied in humans, and more research is needed.
Saffron is high in antioxidants, which may help kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. However, more human research is needed.
9.May Reduce PMS Symptoms
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a term that describes physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms occurring before the start of a menstrual period.
Studies show that saffron may help treat PMS symptoms.
In women 20–45 years of age, taking 30 mg of saffron daily was more effective than a placebo at treating PMS symptoms, such as irritability, headaches, cravings, and pain.
Another study found that simply smelling saffron for 20 minutes helped reduce PMS symptoms like anxiety and lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Both eating and smelling saffron appears to help treat PMS symptoms, such as irritability, headaches, cravings, pain, and anxiety.
10. Easy to Add to Your Diet
In small doses, saffron has a subtle taste and aroma and pairs well with savory dishes, such as paella, risottos, and other rice dishes.
The best way to draw out saffron’s unique flavor is to soak the threads in hot — but not boiling — water. Add the threads and the liquid to your recipe to achieve a deeper, richer flavor.
Saffron is readily available at most specialty markets and can be purchased as threads or in powdered form. However, it’s best to buy the threads, as they give you more versatility and are less likely to be adulterated.
Though saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, a small amount goes a long way, and you often won’t need more than a pinch in your recipes. In fact, using too much saffron can give your recipes an overpowering medicinal taste.
In addition, saffron is available in supplement form.
Saffron has a subtle taste and aroma, which makes it easy to add to your diet. It pairs well with savory dishes and should be soaked in hot water to give a deeper flavor. Alternatively, you can purchase saffron in supplement form to reap its benefits.