The Benefits of Saffron

What are the benefits of Saffron?

Apart from being the most expensive spice, there are many benefits of saffron, which makes it even more special. The benefits and medicinal properties of this highly priced spice, make it a valuable culinary ingredient worldwide.

Saffron is generally safe with little to no side effects. In standard cooking amounts, saffron does not appear to cause adverse effects in humans. As a dietary supplement, people can safely take up to 1.5 grams of saffron per day. However, only 30 mg of saffron per day have been shown to be enough to reap its health benefits. On the other hand, high doses of 5 grams or more can have toxic effects. 

Pregnant women should avoid high doses, as it may cause miscarriage.

As with any supplement, speak to your doctor before taking saffron in supplement form.

Another issue with saffron especially saffron powder is that it may be adulterated with other ingredients, such as beet, red-dyed silk fibers, turmeric, and paprika. Adulteration cuts cost for manufacturers, as real saffron is expensive to harvest.

Therefore, it’s important to purchase saffron from a reputable brand to ensure you get an authentic product. If the saffron appears too cheap, its best to avoid it.

Here are 11 impressive health benefits of saffron.

1. A Powerful Antioxidant

Saffron is rich in plant compounds that act as antioxidants, such as crocin, crocetin, safranal, and kaempferol. Antioxidants help protect your cells against oxidative stress.

2. May Improve Mood and Treat Depressive Symptoms

Saffron may help treat symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression, but more studies are needed before definite recommendations can be made.

3. May Have Cancer-Fighting Properties

Saffron is high in antioxidants, which may help kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. However, more human research is needed.

4. May Reduce PMS Symptoms

Both eating and smelling saffron appears to help treat PMS symptoms, such as irritability, headaches, cravings, pain, and anxiety.

5. May Act as an Aphrodisiac

Saffron may have aphrodisiac properties for both men and women and may especially help those taking antidepressants.

6. May Reduce Appetite and Aid Weight Loss

Saffron has been shown to reduce snacking and curb your appetite. In turn, these behaviors may help you lose weight.

7-10. Other Potential Health Benefits

Saffron has been linked to other health benefits that have not yet been extensively studied, more studies are needed to draw stronger conclusions:

  1. May reduce heart disease risk factors: Animal and test-tube studies indicate that saffron’s antioxidant properties may lower blood cholesterol and prevent blood vessels and arteries from clogging.
  2. May lower blood sugar levels:Saffron may lower blood sugar levels and raise insulin sensitivity as seen in test-tube studies and mice with diabetes.
  3. May improve eyesight in adults with age-related macular degeneration (AMD):Saffron appears to improve eyesight in adults with AMD and protect against free radical damage, which is linked to AMD.
  4. May improve memory in adults with Alzheimer’s disease: Saffron’s antioxidant properties may improve cognitionin adults with Alzheimer’s disease.

11. Easy to Add to Your Diet

Saffron has a subtle taste and aroma, which makes it easy to add to your diet. It pairs well with savory dishes and should be soaked in hot water to give a deeper flavor. Alternatively, you can purchase saffron in supplement form to reap its benefits.

Written by Ryan Raman, MS, RD on January 7, 2019

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