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11 Impressive Health Benefits Of Saffron

12 Aug 2022 0 comments
11 impresionantes beneficios para la salud del azafrán

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Now, in 2021, the retail price of a good Spanish saffron can cost between 8 and 10 euros per gram, that is, between 8,000 and 10,000 euros per kilo.

The reason for its high price is its labor-intensive harvesting method, which makes it expensive to produce. Saffron is harvested by hand from the Crocus sativus flower, commonly known as saffron. The term "saffron" is applied to the flower's thread-like structures called the stigma.

Here are 11 impressive health benefits of saffron.

1. A powerful antioxidant

Saffron contains an impressive variety of plant compounds. These act as antioxidants, molecules that protect cells against free radicals and oxidative stress. Notable antioxidants in saffron include:

  • Crocina
  • Crocetina
  • Safranal
  • Kaempferol

Crocin and crocetin are carotenoid pigments responsible for the red color of saffron. Safranal gives saffron its distinctive flavor and aroma. Research shows it can help improve mood, memory, and learning ability, as well as protect brain cells against oxidative stress

Lastly, kaempferol is found in the petals of saffron flowers. This compound has been linked to health benefits such as reduced inflammation, anticancer properties, and antidepressant activity.

2. Can Improve Mood and Treat Depressive Symptoms

Saffron is nicknamed the spice of the sun. This is not only because of its distinctive color, but also because it can help improve your mood.

In a review of five studies, saffron supplements were significantly more effective than placebos in treating symptoms of mild to moderate depression

Other studies found that taking 30 mg of saffron daily was as effective as fluoxetine, imipramine, and citalopram, conventional treatments for depression. Also, fewer people experienced side effects with saffron than with other treatments.

Both crocus petals and the 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 experts can recommend saffron as a treatment for depression.

3. May Have Cancer-Fighting Properties

Saffron is rich in antioxidants, which help neutralize damaging 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 healthy cells unharmed.

This effect also applies to skin, bone marrow, prostate, lung, breast, cervix, and various other cancer cells.

Test-tube studies have also 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, saffron's anticancer effects are poorly studied in humans and more research is needed.

4. May Reduce PMS Symptoms

Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a term that describes the physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms that occur before the start of a menstrual period.

Studies show that saffron can help treat PMS symptoms.

In women ages 20 to 45, taking 30 mg of saffron daily was more effective than placebo in 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 reduced levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

5. It can act as an aphrodisiac

Aphrodisiacs are foods or supplements that help increase libido. Studies have shown that saffron may have aphrodisiac properties, especially in people taking antidepressants.

For example, taking 30 mg of saffron daily for 4 weeks significantly improved erectile function compared to placebo in men with antidepressant-related erectile dysfunction.

Additionally, an analysis of six studies showed that taking saffron significantly improved erectile function, libido, and overall satisfaction, but not semen characteristics.

In women with low sexual desire due to taking antidepressants, 30 mg of saffron daily for 4 weeks reduced sex-related pain and increased sexual desire and lubrication, compared with placebo.

6. May Reduce Appetite and Help You Lose Weight

Eating between meals is a common habit that can cause you to gain weight. According to research, saffron can help prevent snacking by curbing your appetite.

In an 8-week study, women who took saffron supplements felt significantly fuller, snacked less frequently, and lost significantly more weight than women in the placebo group.

In another 8-week study, taking a saffron extract supplement helped significantly reduce appetite, body mass index, waist circumference, and total fat mass.

However, scientists aren't sure how saffron curbs appetite and helps with weight loss. One theory is that saffron lifts your mood, which in turn lowers your desire to snack.

7–10. Other possible health benefits

Saffron has been linked to other health benefits that have not yet been extensively studied:

  • 7. May reduce risk factors for heart disease. Animal and test-tube studies indicate that saffron's antioxidant properties may lower blood cholesterol and prevent blood vessels and arteries from becoming clogged.
  • 8. It can lower blood sugar levels. Saffron can lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity, as seen in test-tube studies and diabetic mice.
  • 9. May improve eyesight in adults with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Saffron appears to improve vision in adults with AMD and protects against free radical damage, which is linked to AMD.
  • 10. May improve memory in adults with Alzheimer's disease. The antioxidant properties of saffron may improve cognition in adults with Alzheimer's disease.

11. Easy to add to your diet

In small doses, saffron has a subtle flavor and aroma and goes well with savory dishes such as paellas, risottos, and other rice dishes.

The best way to extract the unique flavor of saffron is to soak the threads in hot, but not boiling, water. Add the strands and liquid to your recipe for a deeper, richer flavor.

Saffron is readily available in most specialty markets and can be purchased in string or powder form. It's best to buy the threads, if possible, as they can be used in many different ways and are less likely to be adulterated.

Although saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, a small amount goes a long way. Often you won't need more than a pinch in your recipes. In fact, using too much saffron can give your recipes an overwhelming medicinal flavor.

Additionally, saffron is available in supplement form.

Risks, precautions and dosage

Saffron is generally safe with few to no side effects.

In standard cooking amounts, saffron does not appear to cause any adverse effects in humans.

As a dietary supplement, people can safely take up to 1.5 grams of saffron per day. However, just 30 mg of saffron per day has been shown to be enough to reap its health benefits.

On the other hand, high doses of 5 grams or more can have toxic effects. Pregnant people should avoid high doses, which can cause miscarriage.

Another problem with saffron, especially powdered saffron, is that it can be adulterated (mixed) with other ingredients, such as beets, red-dyed silk fibers, turmeric, and paprika.

Adulteration reduces costs for manufacturers, as real saffron is expensive to harvest. It is important to purchase saffron from a reputable brand to ensure you are getting an authentic product. If saffron seems too cheap, it's best to avoid it.

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