Saffron or Kesar also known as golden spices a spice derived from the flower of Crocus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”.Saffron is a reddish-golden colored spice derived from the styles and stigmas of the flower of the saffron crocus (Crocus sativus). Used primarily as a seasoning agent for cooking and a coloring agent, Saffron also has numerous health benefits that make it one of nature’s most powerful herbs.
Saffron is actually a plant. The dried stigmas (thread-like parts of the flower) are used to make saffron spice. It can take 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound of saffron spice. Saffron is largely cultivated and harvested by hand. Due to the amount of labor involved in harvesting, saffron is considered one of the world’s most expensive spices. The stigmas are also used to make medicine.
Saffron has high manganese content, i.e. 400% of the daily recommended value, vitamin C 38%, magnesium 18%, and iron – 17%. Potassium and vitamin B6 both impart 14% of the daily recommended value.
Manganese helps regulate blood sugar, metabolize carbohydrates, and absorb calcium. It also helps form tissues, bones, and sex hormones. Vitamin C is an infection fighter; iron purifies your blood; and the vitamin B6 content helps form red blood cells and assures nerves will function as they should. Potassium helps balance fluids in cells, which, if low, can cause painful muscle cramps.
Beyond that, saffron contains more than 150 volatile compounds, among others. Picrocrocin, for instance, is the main substance responsible for the strong taste. Safranal brings saffron its characteristic odor and fragrance. Crocin, which delivers the intense orange color, is an indication of this spice’s medicinal qualities, i.e. its powerful carotenoids and antioxidants that can protect your body from free radical damage.
This golden spice has golden benefits too:
- Retards and/or inhibits the growth of cancer cells.
Researchers have determined that the carotenoids in saffron are toxic to cancer cells. When the cancer cell naturally absorbs saffron, the cell turns on itself and dies. Amazingly, saffron does not have this deadly effect on healthy cells. And saffron extracts can even delay certain types of tumor growth.
- Helps relieve depression
Saffron is a powerful antidepressant that rivals medications often prescribed by doctors. The advantage of saffron over those drugs is that saffron is neither addictive, nor does it carry with it all the warnings of nasty side effects.
- Lowers blood pressure
Crocetin, a carotenoid found in saffron, works as a powerful blood pressure-lowering agent. So consuming saffron daily will keep a check on blood pressure and it is beneficial also because it is also known to reduce cholesterol level.
- Treats Macular degeneration
Macular degeneration is a condition that affects the cells in the eyes thus causing vision disability. Saffron not only slows down the degeneration process but also helps to heal the damaged cells completely and reverse age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and retinitis pigmentosa.
- Saffron During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, women are generally advised to consume saffron milk as it enhances pelvic blood flow. Furthermore, saffron has carminative properties- this means that it helps to suppress cramps. Gas and bloating during pregnancy are common problems and a glass of saffron milk can help to ease digestion and reduce flatulence. Pregnant women also experience mood swings, anxiety, and depression. Saffron stimulates the production of serotonin in the body and so a glass of warm saffron milk is perfect for gloomy days.
- Prevents premenstrual syndrome
Saffron also works as a pain reliever for women during their menstrual cycle. High nutritional contents at times provide nourishing to bones and tissues hence forth causing relieve in pain.
- Premature ejaculation & infertility in men
Saffron is also known to improve sexual power in men, by delaying the ejaculation. Saffron taken with milk regularly is known to increase the number of testosterones (sex hormones)
Saffron contains antioxidants that protect the skin from free radicals and this makes it very valuable in anti-aging natural treatments. It is also known to lighten the skin complexion that is why it is used in facial creams and various facial treatments.
Saffron is an effective treatment for asthma as well as conditions of the kidney and liver. Asthma mainly occurs due to inflammation of lung tissue and the narrow airways. Saffron helps in clearing the airways since it reduces the inflammation. This facilitates easy breathing that helps reduce the severity of an asthmatic attack.
Apart from the above mentioned benefits of Saffron, it has many other uses and benefits like in foods, saffron is used as a spice, yellow food coloring, and as a flavoring agent. It is also a super strong dying agent. Saffron is also used for asthma, cough, whooping cough , and to loosen phlegm. It is also used for sleep problems (insomnia), cancer, “hardening of the arteries, intestinal gas , depression, Alzheimer’s disease, fright, shock, spitting up blood, pain, heartburn, and dry skin. Saffron is also used for to increase interest in sex and to induce sweating. Some people apply saffron directly to the scalp for baldness.
There are also a few serious side effects of saffron; so, if you notice any of the following symptoms, you need to seek immediate medical attention.
- Bloody stools
- Blood in urine
- Persistent vomiting
- Feeling of vertigo
The side effects of saffron could be dangerous when its intake is not properly monitored. Saffron could also cause allergic reactions in certain individuals and therefore one need to be careful of such situations. Doctors also advise breast feeding mothers to avoid medium to large doses of saffron, as the effects on a newborn baby are unknown.
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