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    Saffron - Benefits, Drawbacks, and More

    Diet & Nutrition

    Saffron - Benefits, Drawbacks, and More

    Updated on 3 November 2023

    What is Saffron?

    Saffron is a spice that has an Asian origin. It is called crocus sativus scientifically. It has a history of being a medicinal plant. It is often used as a coloring and flavoring agent in sweet dishes.

    Saffron Uses

    What is saffron used for? Saffron is a very delicate and subtle flavor and aroma. It is mainly used in savory dishes to add flavor and a light yellow color. It goes well with rice dishes like paella, risottos, and biryani. Other saffron uses include usage in sweet dishes as a natural flavoring agent. Its soft aroma and musky flavor add taste to baked items such as gourmet cakes, cookies, and custards. Culinary experts often depend on saffron to give a wonderful aroma to the dish.

    Impressive Saffron Health Benefits

    Apart from the culinary world, saffron is widely used for its amazing health benefit. This tiny filament of a flower holds the power to treat depression and mood swings. The components in saffron are known to balance the Vata, Pitta, and Kapha doshas in the body. According to Ayurveda, the imbalance in these doshas results in ailments. This is the reason why saffron is medicinally valued.

    Some common saffron medicinal uses are-

    1. An effective antioxidant

    It helps in cell healing and has anti-inflammatory properties. The anti-oxidants present in saffron protect the cells from free radicals. They mainly play a role in protecting brain cells against damage, helping in weight loss, reducing appetite, and having antidepressant properties.

    2. May enhance feelings and help ease depressive symptoms

    Saffron is called a "sunshine spice" for a reason. Many studies suggest the saffron petal and the stigma are highly effective in treating mild-to-moderate symptoms of depression. Just 30 mg of saffron daily works much better than standard medications prescribed for depression such as fluoxetine or citalopram. Subjects who were given saffron supplements also suffered from fewer side effects.

    3. Might possess anti-cancer properties

    The high antioxidant properties of saffron have been known to reduce free radical damage. Harmful radicals have been known to be the cause of chronic diseases such as cancer. Also, the compounds present in saffron have been known to kill and suppress cancer cells in the colon. Another study shows one of the most important saffron uses is fighting cancer. Crocin-a compound in saffron makes cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy drugs.

    4. Could lessen PMS symptoms

    Studies have found that smelling saffron for 20 minutes or consuming 30 mg every day can help reduce various PMS symptoms such as irritability, headaches, and cramps. It also reduces anxiety during PMS and decreases the levels of cortisol (stress hormone) produced in the body

    5. Might have aphrodisiac properties

    For ages, saffron is known to possess aphrodisiac properties. This is the reason why saffron is mixed with milk and consumed at night. Experts believe that consuming at least 30 mg to saffron daily can help improve erectile dysfunction, sexual libido, and overall satisfaction in men. In women, saffron can lead to improved lubrication and increased sexual desire.

    6. Could lessen appetite and promote weight loss

    Most natural weight loss supplement contains saffron as one of the main ingredients. This is because daily saffron use is naturally known to curb appetite and result in quick weight loss. One of the ways how this works is that saffron enhances mood. This results in fewer snacking episodes. Regular intake of saffron by people looking to lose weight leads to decreased body mass index and lower body fat.

    7. Additional positive health benefits

    Other saffron medicinal uses include reduced blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. Its anti-oxidant properties make it a heart-friendly ingredient. It helps people dealing with Alzheimer's by enhancing their memory.

    8. Simple to include in the diet

    Saffron is a simple ingredient that can easily be included in a diet. Its subtle flavor does not alter the taste of the food. Instead, it only adds a beautiful yellow color and increases the nutritional value of the meal. Although it is expensive, only a pinch of it in a dish is enough to enjoy its numerous benefits.

    Risks Precautions and Dosage

    Though saffron is packed with multiple health benefits, it should be consumed with precautions. Like most natural ingredients, saffron does not have side effects. However, there are certain quantity restrictions to be followed.

    To receive the positive benefits from saffron use, consuming not more than 30 mg per day is recommended. High doses can be toxic, especially for pregnant women as it can lead to miscarriages. Also, it is essential to buy saffron from a trusted source. Buying powdered saffron should be avoided as there are high chances of adulteration.

    Saffron is a wonder herb if consumed in the right way. Natural ingredients tend to have different effects on different people. Those with food sensitivities should always consult a doctor before adding it to their diet.

    References

    1. Omidkhoda SF, Hosseinzadeh H. (2022). Saffron and its active ingredients against human disorders: A literature review on existing clinical evidence. Iran J Basic Med Sci.

    2. Jackson PA, Forster J, Khan J, Pouchieu C, Dubreuil S, Gaudout D, Moras B, Pourtau L. (2021).Effects of Saffron Extract Supplementation on Mood, Well-Being, and Response to a Psychosocial Stressor in Healthy Adults: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Parallel Group, Clinical Trial. Front Nutr.

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    Saffron-Benefits, Drawbacks, and More in Hindi, Saffron-Benefits, Drawbacks, and More in Tamil, Saffron-Benefits, Drawbacks, and More in Telugu, ⁠Saffron-Benefits, Drawbacks, and More in Bengali

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    Written by

    Charu Pratap

    Charu has been a seasoned corporate professional with over a decade of experience in Human Resource Management. She has managed the HR function for start-ups as well as established companies. But aside from her corporate career she was always fond of doing things with a creative streak. She enjoys gardening and writing and is an experienced content expert and linguist. Her own experiences with motherhood and raising a baby made her realize the importance of reliable and fact-based parenting information. She was engaged in creating content for publishing houses, research scholars, corporates as well as for her own blog.

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