Saffron is the most costly spice in the world, with a pound (450g) costing between $500 to $5,000.
Its labor-intensive harvesting process, which results in high production costs, is the reason it has a high price.
Hand harvesting of saffron from the crocus sativus flowers is possible. This flower is also known as the saffron-crocus. Stigma, the thread-like structure found in flowers, is called “saffron”.
Although it is not clear where saffron came from, it is most likely that it originated in Iran. It was revered in Iran for its medicinal properties. Saffron was used to improving memory, mood, and libido.
Saffron is rich in a variety of plant compounds. These compounds act as antioxidants, protecting your cells from free radicals and oxidative stresses.
The following are notable saffron antioxidants:
Crocetin and crocin are carotenoid pigments that give saffron its red color. Both compounds may:
Kaempferol can also be found in saffron flower petals. The health benefits of this compound include reduced inflammation, anti-cancer properties, and antidepressant activities.
Saffron is known as the sunshine spice. Its unique color and ability to brighten your mood are some of the reasons why Saffron is called the sunshine spice.
A review of five studies showed that saffron supplementation was significantly more effective than placebos in treating mild-to-moderate symptoms of depression (6Trusted Source).
Another study found that 30mg of saffron was as effective as Fluoxetine and Imipramine — traditional treatments for depression. Side effects of saffron were less common than with other treatments (8Trusted Source), 9Trusted Source, and 7Trusted Source).
The saffron flowers and the thread-like stigma seem to be effective against mild-to-moderate depression.
These findings are encouraging, but more human studies are required before experts recommend saffron for treating depression.
Saffron is rich in antioxidants that help to neutralize harmful free radicals. Free radical damage has been linked with chronic diseases such as cancer.
Test-tube experiments have shown that saffron, and its compounds, selectively kill or suppress colon cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells intact.
This effect is also applicable to skin, bone, bone marrow, and prostate, as well as breast, breast, cervical, and many other types of cancer cells.
In test-tube experiments, crocin, the main antioxidant in saffron, was also shown to make cancer cells more responsive to chemotherapy drugs.
These promising results from the test-tube study are encouraging, but more research is needed to determine if saffron has anti-cancer properties in humans.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS), is a term used to describe physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms that occur before menstruation.
Studies have shown that saffron can be used to treat PMS symptoms.
Women aged 20 to 45 years old found that 30mg of saffron was more effective than a placebo in treating PMS symptoms such as irritability, headaches, and cravings.
Another study showed that saffron aromatherapy for just 20 minutes can reduce PMS symptoms such as anxiety, and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Aphrodisiacs foods and supplements that increase your libido. Studies have shown that saffron has aphrodisiac qualities, especially for people who take antidepressants.
For instance, taking 30 mg of saffron daily over 4 weeks significantly improved erectile function over placebo in men with antidepressant-related erectile dysfunction.
Six studies were also analyzed to show that saffron had a significant effect on erectile function, libido, and overall satisfaction, but not semen characteristics.
Women with low sexual desire because of antidepressants took 30 mg of saffron every day for 4 weeks. This reduced sex-related pain, and increased sexual desire, and lubrication.
You may gain weight by snacking. Research suggests that saffron might help curb your appetite and prevent you from snacking.
One 8-week study found that women who took saffron supplements felt more satisfied, ate less often, and lost more weight than those who were in the placebo group.
Another 8-week study found that saffron extract supplements significantly reduced appetite, body mass, waist circumference, total fat mass, and body mass index.
Scientists aren’t sure how saffron can curb appetite or aid weight loss. One theory suggests that saffron can elevate your mood and reduce your desire to snack.
Saffron can be used in small amounts to enhance the flavor and aroma of savory dishes such as paella and risottos.
To get saffron’s unique flavor, soak the threads in warm (but not boiling) water. To get a deeper and richer flavor, add the liquid and threads to your recipe.
Saffron can be bought in threads or powdered form at most specialty markets. The threads can be used in many ways and are more likely to be tampered with than the powdered form.
Even though saffron can be the most expensive spice, it is very affordable. You will rarely need more than a pinch for your recipes. You can make your recipes taste medicinal by using too much saffron.
You can also purchase saffron in supplement form.
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