Crocus Sativus, commonly known as Autumn Crocus, & Saffron Crocus, is a flowering plant that belongs to the Iridaceae (Iris family) in the genus Crocus. Saffron is known around the world as a spice with medicinal properties extracted from the flower of Crocus Sativus which has such special properties.
This precious saffron is known by names Saffron Crocus, Crocus Cultive, Crocus Sativus, Kesar, Azafran, Kashmira, Azafron, Croci Stigma, Saffron Crocus, Indian Saffron, Spanish Saffron, Kumkuma, Safran Espagnol, Safran Veritable, True Saffron, Safran Des.
Thread-like patterns and crimson stigma are extracted from Crocus Sativus flowers and then dried in the sunlight, acting as a coloring and flavoring agent in food and desserts.
It’s believed that Saffron originated in Iran, but American author Harold McKee says that these plants were grown in Greece during the Bronze Age. A type of Saffron called Wild Saffron which bears the name C. Sativus and is a triploid form of Crocus Cartwrightianus.
After the Renaissance, saffron spread to Eurasia, Oceania, North America, and North Africa. Saffron contains an Organoiodine compound called iodoform, which is unique in its aroma and taste.
In addition, they contain Phytochemicals such as Safranal, and Picrocrocin, and contain a Carotenoid pigment called Crocin, which gives foods and textiles an eye-catching red or golden yellow color.
The claim that these dried flowers, which have been traded and used for thousands of years, are dramatically beneficial to the body is attested by a 7th century BC Assyrian botanical article.
According to the 21st Century Survey, Iran accounts for 90% of the world’s total saffron production. The most expensive saffron in the world can be grown in tropical, subtropical, and cold regions.
In particular, the word “saffron” is derived from the Arabic word “za’faran“.
1. Saffron contains more than 150 volatile and aromatic compounds that are used not only in cooking but also in the preparation of various medicinal products.
2. And the unique odor is due to the 40-50 volatile compounds in these dry crimson stigma.
3. Saffron Crocus contains many volatile components such as alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, gamma-carotene, lycopene, and zeaxanthin.
4. The carotenoid called crocin in saffron is responsible for its unique color.
5. The monoterpene glycoside precursor called picrocrocin in saffron is the reason for its bitter taste.
6. Saffron possesses an organoiodine compound called iodoform, which is the reason for its unique aroma.
7. These crimson stigmas are consumed by people to enhance mood, enhance manhood, and improve memory.
8. Modern research suggests that saffron may be used to promote sweating (diabetic), prevent gas (carminative), stimulate aphrodisiacs, and control menstrual bleeding.
Potential Health Benefits of Saffron
In addition to important nutrients such as picrocrocin and crocin, saffron also contains numerous vitamins, flavonoids, starch, amino acids, proteins, gums, and anthocyanins. Because of these components, Saffron has the property of curing heart disease, cancer, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, depression, anxiety, and ulcers.
Studies also show that saffron improves memory, cognition, and learning. The medicinal properties of this highly expensive spice make it a valuable culinary ingredient worldwide. Here we have unveiled in detail at the extreme benefits of this high-priced spice.
1. Has Powerful Antioxidant
The various plant compounds contained in the Saffron act as excellent antioxidants as it destroys the free radicals that enter the body and heals the damage caused by it. Besides, these plant compounds act against oxidative stress and prevent heart-related diseases.
The crimson stigma of Crocus Sativus flowers growing in cold regions are rich in safranal, kaempferol, crocetin, and crocin. In particular, the compounds crocetin and crocin contain carotenoid pigments that cause a distinct and dense red color.
Furthermore, both of these compounds have antitussive properties that prevent progressive damage and protect brain cells, besides, it helps to reduce appetite and helps to control body weight.
The safranal compound plays a major role in imparting the unique aroma of saffron, which controls persistent mood swings and leads to balanced thoughts and enhances learning and memory.
The kaempferol compound found in the petals of the saffron flower has anti-cancer properties and comes with health benefits such as antidepressant activity and anti-inflammatory activity.
Research results show that most of the health properties of saffron are due to its high antioxidants.
2. Boosts Mood & Cures Depressive Symptoms
The unique color and taste of saffron greatly help to brighten the abnormal and tired mood. The study was conducted on people with moderate depression, half of them were given saffron supplements and the rest were given medications.
At the end of the study, it was revealed that participants who ingested Saffron were relieved. In another similar study, one group of participants was given 30 mg of saffron daily and another group of prescribed drugs (Citalopram, Imipramine, Fluoxetine).
Finally, it’s proved that saffron has similar effects like prescription drugs. The results of the randomized study proved that both the thread-like stigma in saffron and the petals of the flower were worthy of relieving mild-to-moderate depression.
A study of saffron published in the Journal of Behavior and Brain Science found that a compound called Serotonin found in its extract increased dopamine levels in the brain (without altering the levels of other brain hormones).
Saffron has been shown to cure depressive symptoms, anxiety, and mood swings and it can provide the same effects as prescribed medicines.
3. Effectively Treats Cancer
Free radicals are the main cause of cancer, they attack the immunity zone and then weaken the body. Saffron, which is high in antioxidants, helps neutralize these free radicals.
Free radicals play an important role in the development of not only cancer but also various chronic diseases. Test-tube study results show that the most important compounds contained in saffron inhibit colon cancer cells and their growth.
It is feared that this process will affect the growth of normal beneficial cells, but saffron does not affect other natural functions of the body. Saffron prevents not only colon cancer but also the growth of various cancer cells such as bone marrow, lung, skin, cervix, breast, and prostate.
The results of a test-tube study show that the antioxidant crocin in saffron has similar effects on the highly sensitive chemotherapy drugs used to kill cancer cells. Saffron has antitumor and anticonvulsant properties and they are considered to be the very best source of carotenoids.
The crimson stigma, which has such medicinal properties, has the ability to inhibit the growth of tumor cells. Various researches have shown the inhibitory effects of saffron on the development of DNA synthesis and the positive relationship between the carotenoids in it.
Saffron extract has the ability to fight against human leukemia HL-60 cells and also has the ability to fight human prostate cancer.
Studies show that they help prevent cancer by stopping the growth of free radicals in our bodies.
4. Reduces PMS Symptoms
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a medical term used to describe the psychological, physical, and emotional symptoms that may occur before the onset of the menstrual cycle in women.
This PMS syndrome can cause headaches, irritability, body aches, abdominal pain, and excessive hunger. Various studies have shown that saffron is very helpful for women to easily handle these difficult situations.
Daily intake of 30 mg of saffron, especially in women between the ages of 20 and 45, can control PMS syndrome and relieve pain more effectively than placebo.
In a study of women with another symptom of PMS, such as anxiety and depression, it was recommended to smell the scent of saffron for 20 minutes. After 30 minutes the mood of the participants was confirmed to be clear. In addition, they had low levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
In 2015, research on PMS symptoms showed that the daily consumption saffron was more effective than a placebo, reducing PMS symptoms and lowering cortisol levels.
5. Act as an Aphrodisiac
Studies show that saffron has an aphrodisiac effect. These help to increase masculinity by stimulating sexual desire.
Men generally have a habit of taking a prescribed drug called antidepressant to increase libido, but saffron has been shown to have more deserving effects than antidepressants, according to research.
In addition, the daily consumption of saffron significantly improves antidepressant-related erections.
Men with erectile dysfunction were divided into two groups and one group was given 30 mg of saffron daily and the other group was given an antidepressant pill daily. After 4 weeks, erectile dysfunction was found to be improved in men who consumed saffron.
Analysis of six follow-up studies on saffron found that consuming saffron as a medicine or in a diet effectively enhances overall satisfaction, masculinity, and erectile function.
Women with low sexual desire were found to have an increase in sexual desire as a result of consuming about 30 mg of saffron daily instead of antidepressants for four consecutive weeks. They have also been shown to reduce sexual pain and increase lubrication.
Research proved that saffron has the power to induce Aphrodisiac in both women and men and it can effectively treat erectile dysfunction.
6. Controls Appetite & Cholesterol
In the name of civilized development, consuming fast foods and substandard foods on the roadsides can lead to unwanted weight gain and various diseases.
Frequent feelings of hunger motivate us to consume the foods available at hand, and saffron is highly recommended to prevent this. This is because the research result shows that saffron has the ability to control appetite.
Overweight women were divided into two groups and one group was given a placebo and the other group was given saffron supplements daily. After about 8 weeks, women who ingested saffron lost significant weight than women who took the placebo.
Another similar study was conducted for 8 weeks, in which participants took a saffron juice supplement. At the end of the study, their total fat, waist circumference, and body mass index (BMI) along with frequent appetite were proven to be the least.
But what makes these processes dramatic is how saffron can help control appetite and help with weight loss, a mystery that is still unknown to scientists. But the ancestral theory of saffron is that it reduces the desire for snacks by controlling the mood.
Though Saffron is loaded with nutrients it has the ability to control the appetite and helps to reduce overweight, and LDL cholesterol in your body.
7. Reduces Risk Factors of Heart Disease
Saffron is rich in antioxidants which protect the body from all kinds of heart ailments. That is, saffron consumption greatly supports the healthy functioning of the arteries and maintains the condition of the blood vessels.
For this reason, people with heart disease are advised to consume saffron daily. Also, high levels of cholesterol in the blood are a major cause of arterial and vascular disorders.
Research on animals has shown that the antioxidant properties of this spice can reduce blood cholesterol by up to 50% and effectively prevent clogging of arteries and blood vessels.
Besides, the anti-inflammatory properties contained in saffron are beneficial for heart health.
Studies show that the antioxidant properties of saffron greatly reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, besides, it strengthens blood vessels.
8. Helps to Lower Blood Sugar Level
Adding saffron to the daily diet significantly lowers blood sugar levels and ensures that they are always balanced. According to the results of the study, saffron is recommended for diabetics as it can effectively increase insulin sensitivity without any side effects.
The extracts derived from saffron help to improve the level of glucose in the blood. As a result, muscle tissue becomes more sensitive by the proper insulin secretion.
Two prime factors in the blood, called glucose and insulin, help keep blood sugar levels normal at all times. Saffron is active in increasing the production of serum insulin, which helps prevent type 2 diabetes.
In one study, Methanolic juice of saffron was given to rats with diabetes. As a result, their HbA1c levels and fasting blood glucose levels were shown to be significantly reduced.
The most important cause of hypoglycemia is the antioxidants called saffron and crocin in saffron juice. Liver and kidney functions are not affected in any way during this process carried out by the antioxidants of saffron.
Studies in diabetic rats have shown that saffron truly has the ability to control blood sugar and increase insulin levels.
9. Improves Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD)
Saffron is used to treat Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), one of the most common eye-related disorders in adults. This type of symptom occurs as a result of the damage caused by free radicals.
Adults with AMD can improve eyesight by consuming saffron and protect against free radical damage. Studies have shown that continuous saffron consumption can induce a significant improvement in retinal function in AMD patients.
In a study of AMD patients, they were given approximately 30 mg of dried saffron daily. The study lasted for 6 months and at the end of the study, it was reported that there were significant (statistically) changes in the macular OCT and ERG parameters of the participants.
It’s recommended to consume saffron because research has shown that saffron consumption is the best solution to improve eyesight in adults with age-related macular degeneration.
10. Enhances Memory
Saffron is said to be one of the most powerful remedies for Alzheimer’s, one of the neurological disorders. Researchers say that saffron has high antioxidant properties, which can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and improve cognition.
Crocus Sativus is used in the treatment of the psychological and behavioral symptoms of dementia, one of the cognitive disorders.
Saffron prevents the accumulation of amyloid in the brain and removes their deposition, making it easier and better to treat neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease.
Crocus Sativus (Saffron) is used to better treat Alzheimer’s disease, which often occurs in adults, and can greatly improve memory.
11. Preventing Nervous System Disorders
A compound called crocin, which is found in saffron, helps control oxidative damage and inflammation in the brain. Research conducted on saffron in 2015 examined their nervous system-protecting properties.
Accordingly, it was revealed that the antioxidants in saffron have some beneficial effects on the nervous system. The antioxidants in the crimson stigma of these flowers have memory-enhancing properties.
In addition, research has shown that it can effectively control the anti-inflammatory effects and oxidant pressure that cause neurological disorders.
People with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s were divided into two groups, one group taking the saffron supplement and the other group taking Donepezil for 22 weeks.
As a result, there was a significant improvement in the knowledge of those who consumed saffron, and it was revealed that the side effect of the spice was much less than that of the drug.
Saffron is highly recommended by researchers as there is ample study evidence to support its various medicinal uses.
12. Reduces Lipid Levels
The chemical compound crocin in saffron is an important factor for maintaining the health of the body. In addition, studies in animals have shown that these compounds play a major role in the reduction of macro-biomolecules called a lipid.
Crocin prevents the absorption of good fats and excretes excess bad LDL fats through the stool. Hypolipidemic also activates the effect on the body by releasing the enzymes of pancreatic lipase, causing the pancreas to become completely damaged.
Crocin is involved in the process of inhibiting the effects of pancreatic lipase, which produces enzymes that are harmful to the body.
Saffron prevents various deadly diseases in the body by controlling the level of lipids.
13. Best Antidepressant Agent
Dried saffron and its extract can relieve various mood swings such as stress, depression, and anxiety.
Allopathic medications, such as Imipramine and Fluoxetine, are commonly prescribed by doctors for these conditions, as they have a calming effect.
Women and men with mild-and-moderate depression were divided into two groups and prescribed drugs for men and saffron for women. At the end of the study, it was reported that saffron had the same effect as drugs.
The mind is refreshed at all times to take the extract of the dried petal of the saffron plant three times a week, it doesn’t provide any side effects like medicines.
The function of the saffron extract is to treat depression in an intensive manner and to refresh it so that it can be consumed by children as well as the elders.
14. Beneficial for Skin
Women have a routine of expecting skin radiance and massive skin tone, for which they use various cosmetics on the face. But saffron is a natural herbal product that can provide many times more skin benefits than cosmetics. Applying them as face packs lighten the skin tone and make the face more radiant.
Preparation Saffron Face Pack: 1
In a bowl, mix 2 to 3 strands of saffron, 2 tbsp milk, and 1 tbsp sandalwood powder and bring to a paste consistency. Then apply the paste constantly on the face as a face mask and let it dry for about 20 minutes. Rinse face with cold water after 20 minutes.
Preparation Saffron Face Pack: 2
In a blender add 2 to 3 strands of saffron, 2 teaspoons of milk, and well-soaked sunflower seeds and grind well and bring to a paste consistency. Then apply the paste on the face as a mask and let it dry for about 15 minutes. Rinse face with cold water after 15 minutes.
Saffron helps to maintain a static skin tone and effectively renew the dead skin cells to enrich them.
15. Controls Menstrual Pain
Saffron has been widely used since ancient times to treat various ailments, to soothe abnormal conditions, and to energize the body.
In that sense, a medicinal spice called saffron helps to relieve abdominal pain and muscle cramps that occur during menstruation. Considering its benefits, saffron is still used in traditional medicine today.
This spice helps to control back pain and pelvic pain that comes with menstruation. Saffron also helps to control white-yellow discharge (Leukorrhea) that occurs in the days before menstruation.
A condition called Leukorrhea, which is found in many women, occurs not only during menstruation but every day.
Studies proved that Crocus Sativus is effectively treating menstrual pain, heavy bleeding, muscle cramps, white discharge and so on.
16. Easy to Add to Your Diet
Saffron has a subtle taste, color, and aroma that no other spice has. The spice with such properties is compatible with all kinds of foods such as risottos, paella, rice dishes, desserts.
One brilliant way to unveil the unique flavor of saffron and its properties as a whole is to soak it in warm water. You can get the complete taste, color, aroma, and properties of saffron by adding soaked thread-like crimson stigmas and water to your recipe.
Although saffron is available in powder form in all stores, it is best to buy it as a thread-like crimson stain. Because powder form of any spice may have been contaminated for greater profit and attraction.
Many people refuse to buy and use saffron because of its high price. But just remember one thing, the health of the body is more important than money. Nowadays, saffron is available in supplement form for easy consumption.
A pinch of saffron enhances the magnificence of your recipe and offers more medicinal benefits.
What Are The Ways To Utilize Saffron
Saffron is commercially available as a strand, powders, and supplements, depending on the applications and ease of consumption. You can choose one of them based on your applications.
Soak some dried strand of saffron in 3 teaspoons of warm water or milk. Depending on the quality of the saffron the color in the strand will be completely mixed with water after a certain time and then it can be mixed in the recipe. Conversely, the saffron thread should be soaked overnight in ordinary water to obtain a more thick color and aroma.
A pinch of saffron equals about 20 medium threads, so it must be measured properly before crushing the saffron. In particular, it is enough to use a pinch of saffron in cooking for 4 to 6 people. Use a small grindstone or small blender to crush the saffron threads. Keep in mind that crushing saffron by machine or by hand doesn’t render an impressive appearance. However, crushed saffron imparts a strong aroma, color, and taste. Thus crushed saffron spice can be used in milk and desserts.
Saffron powders sold in stores may have been adulterated. To ward off such threats, dried saffron threads can be ground at home using a blender. Or be sure to get unadulterated saffron powder from trusted vendors. Saffron powder can be mixed with milk and consumed to get more nutritional values, or used in desserts to enhance its color and taste. Beyond culinary purpose, saffron is used for external applications, including skin health.
Nutrition Value in Saffron
The nutritional value of 100 grams of saffron is listed here.
- Calcium – 111 mg
- Copper – 0.33 mg
- Iron – 11.1 mg
- Magnesium – 264 mg
- Manganese – 28.41 mg
- Phosphorus – 252 mg
- Potassium – 1724 mg
- Selenium – 5.6 mcg
- Sodium – 148 mg
- Zinc – 1.09 mg
- Manganese – 0.089 mg
- Vitamin C – 0.8 mg
- Vitamin B6 – 1.01 mg
- Riboflavin – 0.27 mg
- Thiamin – 0.12 mg
- Folate, DFE – 93 mcg
- Niacin – 1.46 mg
- Fiber – 3.9 g
- Water – 11.9 g
- Protein – 11.4 g
- Fat – 0.4 g
- Carbohydrate – 65.4 g