Saffron or the flower of Crocus sativus Linnis a flowering plant which belong to crocus family or Iridaceae. Safferon is widely used in culinary purpose as spice, colouring and flavoring agent in many countries in the world. The word saffron is originated from the word Safran, an old French term from 12th century, the word saffran is also linked to the Italian word Zafferano and Spanish word Azafran. Safran is also known derived from Arabic word Asfar which means yellow.
Saffron (Crocus sativus L.) is a bulbous perennial spice that recognize as golden spice. The saffron plant does not produced by seeds. The plant has buld which grow underground and it will divide to produce new plant. The flowers of saffran usually emerge in autumn and grow a stigma with 25 – 30 mm in size.
The flower of saffran also has three yellow stamens which lack the active compounds and are not collected as spice. Each plant bulb will produce from one to seven flowers and a pound of saffron stigma can be yield by 36.000 flowers.
History of Saffron
There is a journal which mentioned the history of saffron. Saffron is believed native to Greece, Asia Minor and Persia spreading eastwards to Kashmir and China. Saffron has been used since long times ago by people in different countries. In Egypt, people has used saffron since 3100 BC – 476 AD and they imported it from Crete. While Chinese people used the saffron and derived from Mongolian traders, they called saffron as hua.
Today, saffron is cultivated from Spain, Eastern Mediterranean to SouthEast Asia like India An ancient texts on Indian medication, ayurveda mentioned that saffron is largely use as aphrodisiac herb and it used in wedding night ritual. In India saffron used to be mixed with milk or known as Kesar milk. Nowadays Iran is the first producer of saffron; other countries are: Spain, India,Turkey, Greece, Morocco, China, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Russia and Pakistan
Studies reported that saffron or Crocus sativus stigmas contained many chemical compounds such as carotenoids like crocetin (also called α‐crocetin or crocetin‐I), and the colour of saffron comes from crocins, which categorized as unusual water‐soluble carotenoids. The nutrients content of saffron is listed in the table below
Percentage of RDA%
Health Benefits of Saffron
Saffron has been used in medicinal purpose and culinary since ancient times and those benefits are also have been proven by scientific research. Below are the list of best benefits that can be delivered by saffron
- Relieve depression
Studies has proven that saffron delvers anti-depressant effect to the body. This anti-depressant effect of saffron is provided by active compounds such as safranal, crocin and kaempferol.
2. Improve memory
It has been proven by some studies that saffron can improve memory especially the long term memory and it can help in learning process. The crocin and crocetin contents of saffron can improve the brain cell formation and prevent it from damage.
3. Prevent Alzheimer
Alzheimer is a sign of dementia or known as disease which patient lost the memory in elderly age. According to study which conducted by Jagdeep et al., in 2009, it is reported that saffron can protect the brain from losing memory and help in preventing from Alzheimer that can cause dementia.
4. Maintain healthy vision
Crocin contents in saffron can significantly increased the blood flow in the retina and choroid as well as facilitated the retinal function recovery of the eyes and saffron also use to treat ischemic retinopathy and macular degeneration in elderly based on study of Xuan et al in 1999
5. Reduce the risk of heart disease
The antioxidant component in saffron can significantly reduce the risk or heart disease by improving cardiovascular health. Kesar milk whic added by fifty milligrams of saffron and consumed twice a day can significant decrease in lipoprotein oxidation which formed in arteries. This will be good treatment for patients with coronary artery disease (CAD) according to study by Verma and Bordia in 1998.
6. Lower blood pressure
Health Benefits of SaffronAccording to study by Fatehi et al., in 2003 it is reported that active constituents of saffron can help to regulate normal blood pressure and lowering the pressure in hypertension patient. Potassium in saffron also help in manage the blood pressure within the blood vessels and systemic blood flow.
7. Fight inflammation
Health Benefits of Saffron is best for fight inflammation. Antioxidant is best in fighting inflammation. Saffron contains flavonoids,tannins, anthocyanins, alkaloids and saponins that can act as antioxidant which reduce the inflammation that occur in the body.
8. Improve sleep quality
rinking kesar milk or saffron milk before sleep can improve sleep quality. Saffron contains magnesium which can calm the nerve and promotes sleepiness. In ayurvedic medication, saffron is known to have sedative effect to the body.
9. Treat ulcer
Anti-gastritic effect in saffron can significantly treat ulcer disease study reported that saffron protect against gastric mucosal damage that induced by some substances called as indomethacin and necrotizing agent, and it also inhibit the excessive production of gastric acid that can damage gastric lining wall.
10. Prevent parkinson disease
Crocetin,an active substance found in saffron can help to prevent Parkinsonism or parkinson disease according to study by Ahmad in 2005.parkinson is a deisease that affected on muscle. It can reduce the ability to speak and move.
11. Prevent cancer
It is reported based on some researches that saffron can possess the prevention of cancer. The antioxidant and bioactive component of saffron can block the free radicals effect in the body and inhibit the mutation of the DNA which leads to excessive cells growth.
12. Inhibit tumour growth
As well as cancer, tumor is a disorder which happen cause the abnormal growth of cell but different from cancer, tumor doesn’t spread to other body tissue. Saffron by its active constituent has anti-tumor properties which can reduce the risk of tumor and inhibit the tumor cells growth within the body.
13. Prevent diabetes
The extract of saffron can significantly protect the pancreas from damage and it can improve insulin sensitivity in the body. By increasing the level of insulin and enhance insulin sensitivity, saffron is one of best spice to prevent diabetes.
14. Treat edema
Edema is a medical term for body swelling which caused by water accumulation under skin tissue. Saffron can be used to treat edema and it has been practised by ayurveda herbalist in India since long ago.
15. Treat acne
Acne is too much annoying and several factors can cause the development of acne. Acne occur by the infection of P acne and clogging pore. Saffron can be used to treat acne by just applying on skin face. Mix saffron with honey, rub on skin for some minutes then rinse face with lukewarm water.
16. Brighten skin
Not only treating acne, saffron contains high antioxidant that can get rid of dullness and brighten the skin. Mix some saffron with milk then smear it to your face. Wash it with water after some minutes.
17. Reduce the effect of alcoholism
Ayurvedic medication has used saffron since long ago to reduce the effect of alcohol such as vomiting, weakness, dizziness, headache and other. Saffron contains many active compounds that reduce the side effect of alcohol and get rid of alcohol addiction.
18. Cure headache
Saffron contains magnesium that can calm the nerve and it decreased the impulse within the brain. Just drink saffron with milk to get this effect when you feel your head is totally pain.
19. Cure asthma and cough
Saffron is best known as respiratory tract protector. The active constituent of saffron such as crocin and kaempferol can significantly reduce the asthma attack as well as relieving cough.
20. Treat enlarged liver
Enlarge liver used to be happen as a sign of disease such as malaria, dengue and other disease that caused by microorganism infection. Saffron contains anti-inflammatory properties that can treat the enlarge liver and maintain liver function in detoxify the body from harmful toxin.
21. Relieve upset stomach
If you used to experience of upset stomach that caused by food or stress, try to consume saffron milk and it will significantly reduce your sick feeling such as nausea and vomiting.
22. Reduce urinary infection
Saffron benefits also very important to reduce urinary infections. The active substances of saffron can clean the blood and help to fight infection which occur in urinary tract and also prevent the kidney to build gallstone.
23. Treat menstrual irregularity
Nowadays women used to face problem with their menstrual period and saffron can be a solution to solve the problem. Ayurvedic medication is also used saffron to treat menstrual irregularity and cramp.
24. Prevent impotency
Saffron show its benefits as aphrodisiac since it contains many active compounds that can enhance sperm activity and increase the amount of sperm cell in male.
25. Reduce the symptoms of Arthritis
Anti-inflammatory properties of saffron is also beneficial in reduce the risk and symptoms of arthritis. Arthritis is a condition that caused by autoimmune disease. People who suffer from arthritis usually feel severe pain in their joints. Consuming saffron regularly can really help to reduce the joint pain.
26. Reduce cholesterol
It is a good news that saffron can be used to reduce the cholesterol level and study has proven it. Cholesterol is bad fat inside the body that can cause several serious problem such as heart disease and diabetes that are popular as the cause of high mortality in the world.
27. Improve lung function
Lung is the main organ of human respiratory system and saffron has potential effect in protecting the lung cells and tissue from several infection and other disease such as bronchitis and it also used in ttearting shortness of breath,
28. Repair body cells
Saffron contains high protein that can be useful to repair body cells from damage. Protein is main nutrients that known as the building block of almost human body’s organ and tissues.
29. Prevent anemia
Iron is an important mineral to keep healthy and normal red blood cell function. Lack of iron can cause a disorder called anemia that lead of body weakness, fatigue, headache and etc. Saffron provide the body with some amount of iron that can keep the body from suffering anemia.
30. Prevent hair loss
Saffron can stimulate the growth of hair and prevent from hair loss. People who has problem with baldness and have baldness spot can use ground saffron to promote the hair growth. Just make paste from ground saffron and canddlenut then apply it on baldness spot for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, the paste can be cleaned by rinse it with water.
31. Soothes fever
Ayurvedic used to apply saffron as herbal medicine to treat fever. The anti-inflammatory properties of saffron can reduce the inflammation. It also affecting the termostat of the body that lowering the temperature when someone experience high fever.
32. Relieves toothache
Toothaches can make you suffer and sometime it really annoy you. If you are afraid to visit denstis, you can use saffron as alternative to treat tooth ache. The active component of saffron can reduce the pain and calm the nerve inside the gum. Drink some saffron with milk or simply rub saffron paste on area which pain located inside the mouth cavity.
Health Risk of Saffron
Until now there are some case reported after consumption of saffron as supplement. Excessively usage of saffron can trigger anxiety, sleepiness, upset stomach, and even allergic reaction. People who suffer from bipolar disorder should avoid to use saffron since it can promote mood swing as well as pregnant and lactating mother. Saffron also may interfere with some medication such warfarin or blood pressure medicine. Consult your doctor before start to use saffron.
Tips to Use Saffron
Saffron is known as the most expensive spice that we can found in market and before you purchase and consume it to get the benefits, better check these following tips :
- Choose best quality saffron with dark red color, the redder of saffron color the better quality you can get
- If you purchase saffron powder try to select trusted brand or seller
- Store the saffron in airtight, dark and cool container. Saffron should be kept in dark jar or wrapped in a foil to avoid light since saffron is very sensitive to light and it can reduce the active component in saffron
- Saffron can be stored along 2 years but the longer you store the lower quality of saffron you will get
- Before you cook with saffron, remember that saffron is used as powder and to make sure the quality of saffron you can powder it by yourself
- Saffron can be add to any dish and before add to the dish, add 3-5 tablepoon of water to a pinch of saffron powder
- Saffron is commonly use to cook saffron rice, chicken, and other savoury dish but it can also be use to make some dessert such as Indian rasmalai, kheer or even lassi.
- If you want to enjoy saffron in different way, you can add saffron powder to your milk or just infused the saffron powder in warm water to make saffron tea.
Those all the benefits of saffron will be gained if you consume it regularly. Try to purchase and start to use saffron in your daily meal to keep your body healthy and fit.