Saffron – the spice famous for its distinct flavor, color and pleasant aroma. Besides giving an exotic touch to your favorite dishes, it is also savoured across cultures for its medicinal properties. Saffron is extracted from the dried stigma of the purple blue saffron flower. It is widely grown in Iran, Turkey, Greece, France, Italy and our very own Jammu & Kashmir.
Nature has bestowed this royal spice with various essential vitamins and minerals, and a host of exceptional antioxidants. It contains various bioactive compounds such as crocin, crocetin, picrocrocin, and safranal. All these constituents, together in these small threads, makes saffron perfect to fight various health problems and diseases like asthma, cough & cold, stomach ailments, insomnia, uterine bleeding, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, infertility, depression, cholesterol, flatulence, etc.
Some of it’s top health benefits are:
1. Beautiful skin
Beauty benefits of saffron are well established and it’s not without reason that saffron reigns over the cosmetic industry. It not only lightens and brightens your skin, but it also serves as an effective treatment for acne, blemishes and blackheads. It exfoliates and improves the texture of your skin. It stimulates blood circulation by providing oxygen to your skin, giving you a healthy, glowing and even skin tone.
2. Relieve Upset Stomach
From simple digestive issues like constipation, flatulence, heartburn, cramping etc. to serious conditions like gastric ulcers, liver enlargement and spleen enlargement, saffron provides natural and effective cure to a wide range of health problems related to our stomach. It is a natural anti-convulsant. It has sedative and anti inflammatory properties, which help to calm down the stomach, soothe the burning sensation and reduce inflammation.
3. Analgesic Properties
Saffron has superb analgesic properties, which is why it has been widely used by warriors in the past and sportsmen in the current times. It is a great home remedy for arthritis and gout. High on antioxidants, it not only relieves the pain but also speeds up the topical healing of wounds and bruises. Saffron oil is commonly used in massage creams for alleviating aches and pains throughout the body. It stimulates the production of collagen in our body, which is responsible for wound healing, muscle growth, blood vessel repair and tissue production.
4. Mental Health
We have all heard from our moms and grand moms that saffron can bring wisdom to you and guess what it is not a fairy tale. Saffron is actually very good for our mental health. It is a natural antidepressant, can reduce stress, cheers you up and is even good at fighting with the appalling Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, it can be your saviour from the growing menace of insomnia in modern lifestyle.
5. Saffron for Pregnancy:
Traditionally in many countries, saffron milk is given to pregnant mothers with the belief that it will give fair and glowing skin to the one in their womb. Medically it has been proven that saffron enhances blood circulation to the pelvic region and relieves cramps. Its anti depressant qualities help expectant mothers in fighting stress, mood swings and depression during pregnancy.
6. Deal With Premenstrual Syndrome
Saffron helps in alleviating various PMS symptoms. It perks up your spirits by increasing the serotonin levels in the body. The anti inflammatory properties of saffron provide relief from menstrual pain. High content of iron in saffron prevents anaemia and regulates heavy bleeding as well.
Saffron has high amount of manganese which aids in optimizing the blood sugar levels in our body. This characteristic of saffron makes it a super food for the pre-diabetic and diabetic patients. It also contains Crocetin as a major component to combat insulin resistance.
8. Cardiovascular Health
Richness in potassium makes saffron valuable for cardiovascular health. Potassium is good at controlling the heart beats and maintaining the blood pressure. It reduces stress and pressure on blood vessels and arteries and thus protects us against several heart diseases like atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes. Moreover, its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties ensure healthy arteries.The high concentration of iron in saffron increases your RBC, which thereby stimulates circulation and oxygenation of body organs and systems. This improves efficiency and vitality of our tissues and organs prevents the symptoms of anaemia.
9. Preserve Your Sight
Age-related muscular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of blindness among elderly people. With two of its major components namely Crocin and Crocetin, saffron protects light sensitive cells from retinal stress and regulates cell death as well. Consequently, saffron supplements can provide long-term and stable benefits to retinal function in AMD patients.
10. Weight loss
People across the globe use saffron oil to fight obesity and to get back in shape. It enhances blood circulation and increases metabolism. Moreover, high levels of serotonin in saffron suppress your appetite. It also keeps your mood elevated and saves you from indulging in overeating due to stress.
11. Bone Strength
Saffron helps in optimizing the nutrient absorption of calcium in human body thereby resulting in higher bone density. Consequently, it improves bone health and protects our bones from various degenerative age related bone diseases like osteoporosis.
12. Immunity Booster
High concentration of antioxidants in saffron makes it a great immunity booster. It contains special antioxidants called carotenoids which work as immune modulators and protect human body against oxidant-induced stress, infections and Cancer. It stimulates the white blood cell count and acts as a good detoxifier for the whole body. Saffron is also commonly used as an expectorant in the treatment of various respiratory ailments.
13. Nerve Function
Saffron has high content of Vitamin B6, which is responsible for smooth functioning of our nervous system. Thus including saffron in your diet will save you from deadly and dangerous disorders that arise due to poor nervous system function.
14. Improves Sexual Health
Saffron has been used as an aphrodisiac to stimulate sexual desire since ages. It is one of the rare herb which is even mentioned in Ayurveda to fight all sort of sexual health disorders in men as well as women. Even science has backed saffron in fighting erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and impotence. There are proofs which shows that saffron can even outperform Viagra performance vise if taken in appropriate quantity on regular basis.
Phew!! the list seems endless to me. It motivates me enough to incorporate this incredible spice in my daily diet. The price tag on it is only barrier it seems.
An easy way to consume Saffron is by adding a few strands of it in the milk/tea you drink. And if you wish to apply it on your skin from outside, you may add a few strands into your cream and then apply it on your face overnight and see the magic happening everyday.
However, one needs to consume it in very small volume and as per own requirements. A final word of caution though – always store saffron inside closed airtight container and keep it in cool, dark place (preferably inside the refrigerator) as light rays oxidize the pigments in saffron and offset its aroma.
Happy Living!! Happy Eating !!
A full time work from home mother, she utilises her spare time to contribute insightful articles around day to day lifestyle challenges and their remedies, that all can relate to. Trust Aafiya to provide apt advice on diet mechanism, nutritional facts and common home remedies.
Away from writing, Aafiya is statistics post graduate, has worked earlier in the field of Research & Education and loves travelling.