Saffron, also called Kesar, is a popular spice that has got wonderful color and taste. When added to any dish, it makes it flavourful and colorful. Besides its culinary benefits, saffron also has a high proportion of niacin, vitamin A, riboflavin, folic acid, and vitamin-C that provides medicinal benefits to a person. Regular consumption of saffron not just refreshes but also promotes optimum health. Read on to know more about the amazing saffron benefits for overall body.
What is Saffron And Its Types
Saffron belongs to the family of Lily. It is derived from the saffron flower that blooms in the Autumn. It has a thread-like structure. Each flower produces only three delicate threads. Talking about the history of Saffron, it began it’s cultivation in Greece. Other suitable areas for the cultivation of saffron are India (Jammu and Kashmir), Iran, Spain, Morocco and Eurasia. Iran is the largest manufacturer of saffron throughout the world. It accounts for 94% of global production.
Saffron is popularly consumed in the Mediterranean diet. It has an impressive nutritional composition and properties. About 28 grams of saffron provides only 87 calories. It has got plenty of antioxidants and vitamins. Saffron is a high price ingredient that is commonly called ‘red gold’ or ‘golden spice’. Being the storehouse of antioxidants such as crocetin and crocin it prevents your body from oxidative stress that is caused due to free radicals in the body.
Saffron is an effective aphrodisiac. It also has antidepressant properties that safeguard your brain cells against damage. Studies have shown that saffron has cancer-preventing attributes that inhibit the formation of tumors in the body. It also prevents DNA alterations that lead to the activation of cancer-causing genes in the body. Furthermore, saffron also shows remarkable benefits against the harmful effects of chemotherapy medication.
There are different varieties of saffron cultivated in India. Below are the three popular types of saffron cultivated in India.
- Aquilla Saffron : It has the short size of the thread, less expensive and less red in color
- Creme Saffron : It is the cheapest variety of saffron
- Lacha Saffron : It is highly expensive and crimson red in color
Importance of Saffron in Ayurveda – Indian Herbal Medicines
Saffron is an important ingredient that is used in the preparation of various Ayurvedic medicines. The benefits of this potent herb are mentioned in Charaka Samhita. It has the power to treat varied types of bodily ailments easily.
Primarily used as a coloring and seasoning ingredient, Saffron is also a “Tridoshara”. It helps in treating any imbalance in the three energies i.e., Vata, Pitta, and Kapha in the body. Furthermore, it is beneficial to cure lethal ailments like cancer and enhances digestion, and promote a strong liver.
Saffron Health Benefits
The benefits of saffron are numerous. This majestic spice has a natural vibrant color that makes the food tempting. This luxurious spice has an abundance of essential antioxidants and nutrients that could result in weight reduction, better vision, a healthy heart, improved mood, and a lot more. Let us look at these benefits one by one.
1. Protects Against Cancer
Saffron gets a dark orange color due to the presence of “crocin” in it. It is a water-soluble carotene that is responsible for the golden color of saffron. Crocin can trigger programmed cell death in different kinds of human cancer cells.
Saffron also has active components that display an ability to restrict human malignant cells. This spice destroys cancer-prone cells and stimulates the formation of lymphocytes in the body.
2. Improves Brain Health
Saffron oil has a pleasing and soothing aroma. It boosts serotonin levels in the body that works as an anti-depressant on the body. It has active components that uplift mood and reduce stress from the body.
The rich proportion of carotenoids boosts the immunity level and lower oxidant-induced stress in the body. This therapeutic spice is also beneficial for those who suffer from insomnia. Inhaling saffron oil or applying it on the forehead induces sleep naturally.
3. Helps In The Management Of Pain
The concoction of milk and saffron has been used for ages for reducing muscle and body pain.
4. Improves Haemoglobin Levels
Besides vitamins, Saffron also has a good amount of iron that helps in the production of hemoglobin in the body.
5. Promotes Memory Retention
The extract of saffron, specifically “crocin”, is helpful in the cure of age-induced mental impairment. Along with crocin, saffron also has a few more anti-inflammatory agents and anti-oxidants as safranal and crocetin. Their combined effect keeps the nervous system strong and healthy.
Crocin is beneficial in enhancing memory retention and promotes brain health. Due to these benefits, the regular addition of Saffron in your diet helps cure Parkinson’s ailment, Alzheimer’s disease, loss of memory, and inflammation in the body.
6. Stimulates Hormones
Slow development in growing children can lower their self-esteem. Saffron helps stimulate hormones in underdeveloped girls. This is helpful in girls and boys who suffer from delayed puberty. Add a pinch of crushed saffron to a tablespoon of milk. Consume it daily to see improvement in growth.
7. Enhances Vitality
Saffron is also helpful in people who have a low sex drive. It has properties that stimulate sexual hormones in the body. Consume warm saffron milk at bedtime to improve your libido in a few weeks.
8. Treats respiratory ailments
Respiratory problems are very common in winter. Saffron is hot in nature. It is full of antioxidants and therapeutic properties that can give considerable relief in this miserable condition. Drinking saffron milk is beneficial in weather changes or the onset of winters.
It is a stimulant tonic that is very effective in the treatment of fever, blocked nose, running nose, headache, congestion, colds, asthma, and excessive cough. You can also apply saffron on your forehead and get quick relief from cold.
Alternatively, you can use inhale small amounts of saffron oil. It loosens accumulated phlegm and mucus in the respiratory tract and clears up congestion. You will also see noticeable improvements in the quality of your sleep.
9. As A Substitute For Food Additives
Food products that you get at the store contain several types of addictive in the form of flavoring or coloring agents. They are known to cause allergies and other short-term and long-term side effects.
Saffron is a safe and healthy substitute for the commonly used synthetic food additives. This healthy spice is a natural food additive that you can use to garnish several dishes such as baked items, milkshakes, rice recipes, etc. It not makes the dish naturally appealing and delicious but also enhances its nutritional value without any side effects.
10. Saffron for Weight loss
Saffron is a pure and natural calorie-less supplement. It has satiereal that curbs hunger cravings in a person. It, along with polyphenols, carotenoids, and anti-inflammatory compounds improves the rate of lipid metabolism in the body. Regular consumption of saffron in your diet helps maintain the right body weight.
11. Saffron Helps reduce PMS symptoms
PMS is characterized by emotional, psychological, and physical changes in a woman that happens before the onset of her menstrual period. Studies have shown that women who consumed 15 mg of saffron two times daily for six months, showed relief in common PMS that includes headache, pain, sweet cravings, irritability, etc.
12. Keeps your heart healthy
Saffron is an incredible herbal supplement that promotes sound cardiac health. It has riboflavin, thiamine, and various antioxidants that leads to the healthy functioning of blood vessels and arteries in the body. The anti-inflammatory properties of saffron make it helpful for keeping your heart in a healthy state.
13. Improves vision
Saffron strands are composed of retinol protecting and vision-enhancing nutrients such as Alpha-carotene, zeaxanthin, cyanidin-3- glucoside, and lutein, that stimulates retinol response, visual activity, and sensitivity to light in people. These properties of saffron make it beneficial in people who have age-linked macular degeneration.
14. May Prevent From UV Radiation
Saffron has a property to absorb harmful ultraviolet rays. It has flavonoids such as quercetin, and kaempferol that shows photoprotective attributes.
Saffron Benefits for Hair
1. Reduces Hair Loss
Application of Kesar on the scalp aids in the treatment of alopecia. Prepare a mixture of saffron, licorice, and milk. Apply it on your hair roots and scalp. In this way, it helps stimulate hair growth. This is an effective topical application that when performed regularly can cover the patch with new hair. Over time, it can even replace your damaged hair follicles with healthy ones and prevents hair fall too.
2. An Incredible Hair Tonic
Saffron greatly contributes to promoting hair health. Due to its high antioxidant properties, it is effective in arresting hair damage, and hair fall. Saffron stimulates new growth of hair too. To prepare this hair tonic, you need to mix some saffron strands in almond oil and olive oil.
Now apply this luke-warm oil uniformly on your scalp. Leave it on for a few minutes. Follow it by washing your hair with a mild shampoo. In just a few weeks of applications, you will find notice of healthy curls and improved hair density.
Saffron Benefits for Skin
1. Gives You Bright Skin
Saffron has got wonderful beautifying properties. It not just gives healthy skin but also treats wrinkles and acne on it. It has the ability to lighten dark spots, even out skin tone, and sunburns too. Saffron also has plenty of skin-beneficial vitamins as vitamins A, B, and C.
The abundance of vitamins and antioxidants in Saffron enhances the skin texture and rejuvenates dull skin. Saffron also has hydrating and moisture absorbing qualities that give you flawless skin naturally.
To get its beauty benefits, all you need is to soak four to five strands of saffron in a tsp of milk. Add a few drops of lemon to it. Keep it for two to three hours. Apply it uniformly on the face. With circular finger movements, massage saffron water on the skin. Rinse your skin after five minutes. In a few days of this treatment, you would start to notice visible improvements in your skin.
Note: People who have sensitive skin should not add lemon juice to this recipe.
2. Saffron Benefits include Acne Treatment
Saffron has been used in several beauty enhancing treatments. It has high amounts of antioxidants that give you clear skin naturally. It also has remarkable exfoliant and anti-bacterial properties that effectively reduces aging signs such as dark spots, marks blemishes, and uneven skin tone naturally.
Being a potent antioxidant, it fights against the free radicals that cause damage to your skin health. Saffron Add a few drops of saffron oil to your homemade mask to get a visibly brighter and clear skin. It treats skin issues from the root level and prevents them from reoccurring.
3. Tones your skin
Saffron is an excellent toning agent. It is effective in reducing the open pores, and blackheads on the skin. Apply saffron oil or add milk soaked in saffron strands to get healthy, bright, and toned skin naturally. It enhances the blood circulation to the face that makes your skin firm and youthful. Add some rose water for a refreshing effect.
Best Ways To Include Saffron In Your Diet
This wonderful ancient spice offer cooking, healing, medicinal, and beauty benefits that make it beneficial to both foodies and health/beauty conscious person. The consumption and topical application of the ingredient offer nourishment to your hair and skin. Saffron is a culinary treasure that can be added to foods and beverages to make it more colorful and aromatic.
Here are some of the benefits to reap the advantages of saffron in a delicious way.
- Add some threads of saffron along with thyme and garlic to marinade for fish.
- Add saffron threads to your pastries, cookies, and cakes
- Add a few threads of saffron with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and Indian bay leaves in your Biryanis.
- Add a small piece of saffron to your transparent apple cider solution. It will give a golden elixir to the solution.
- Saffron also tastes good when added to tea. Add some cardamom and cinnamon powder to the tea masala for added taste. This tea is great at protecting from cold, cough, etc.
- Add cinnamon and saffron to your milkshakes or lassi.
Precautions To Take When Incorporating Saffron In Your Diet
Saffron is a highly-priced and beneficial culinary ingredient all over the world. It is an aphrodisiac, carminative and diaphoretic agent. You can reap the health-boosting benefits of saffron by using a little amount of this majestic spice in beauty and cooking recipes. To get its benefits, you should eat it in moderate amounts, otherwise, it can lead to toxic side effects in the body.
Saffron may interact with your ongoing medicines. So, if you are suffering from any health ailment and taking medication for it, you should consult the doctor before consuming saffron.
Also, take it in permissible amounts as over-consumption can result in uterus related complications and even miscarriage. Breastfeeding mothers and pregnant ladies should take approval from their doctor.
Things To Know When Buy Saffron
The purity of saffron determines the level of benefits you can obtain from it. However, at many places, you get impure and adulterated saffron. As it is an expensive spice, some manufacturers also add turmeric, beet, paprika, and dyed silk fabric into its preparation.
Here are a few tips that will help you find the purest form of saffron
- Smell it. Pure saffron has a sweet grass-like smell.
- Choose red threads over the yellow ones.
- Check the taste of the saffron. Pure saffron has a slightly bitter taste. Try rubbing a few strands of it on a tissue. If you see any color then it means it is real.
- Check for its ISO certification. Always purchase it from a well-known brand. ISO 3632 certification ensures that the saffron you are purchasing is 100% trusted.
How To Store Saffron?
Saffron has a long life. It does not spoil so easily. You can preserve it for two to four years without worry. It is important to store it in a dark place and in an airtight container. Another thing is that saffron is photo-sensitive. Due to this you can avail saffron benefits for a longer time if you decide to store it.
So, if you keep it in light, then there can be a possibility that it may start to lose its flavor and taste. Due to this reason, saffron is always harvested before sunrise. Also, you can’t keep saffron in the refrigerator. It may get fungus in the moist environment.
Saffron is a little expensive but highly beneficial herb that can provide a wide range of health benefits to a person. The high antioxidant and vitamin level in this precious herb can treat a broad array of severe ailments naturally. Add it to your beverages, dishes, or apply it topically on the skin to reap its benefits.