Saffron: Decoding The Secrets Of The World’s Most Expensive Spice
November 2, 2023
November 2, 2023
Saffron, also known as kesar, is the world’s most costly spice that comes from the flower of the Crocus sativus plant. Saffron’s high price is not due to the rarity of the flowers but because of their short calendar window for blooming, limited yield, and the uphill task necessary to pick those delicate, red saffron strands. Though the origins of saffron cultivation are in Greece, the spice is now primarily grown in Iran, Greece, Morocco, and India.
Saffron can add a vibrant and appealing colour to a wide range of foods, so a tiny amount goes a very long way. Saffron complements practically anything, especially sweets, because it is incredibly delicate, fragrant, and has a somewhat sweet, luxurious flavour. However, when cooked, it gives a slightly earthy and sweet flavour. Saffron enhances all kinds of food, including rice, meat, seafood, and vegetables. Continue reading to discover more about the wonders of this spice.
It takes more than 4,600 flowers, or 14,000 stigmas, to make just one ounce of premium saffron because each saffron flower only has three stigmas. Superior quality saffron has a rich red hue, feels dry to the touch, and has stigmas that range in length from 3/8″ to 1/2″. Saffron comes in grams, and one gram would provide about 150 servings because there are about 463 threads (3/8″ to ½” in length) in one gram.
A good rule of thumb is to use a little over half a teaspoon or roughly three strands per person. Here is the nutritional value of one teaspoon of saffron:
Drug research in 2015 has documented that saffron or saffron extract helps in improving mood. That is because saffron is rich in bioactive components such as crocin, crocetin, picrocrocin, and safranal.
Mood swings have long been the most common problem that pregnant women face. Saffron leads to serotonin production, which influences mood by increasing blood flow in the body.
Systematic review and meta-analysis suggest men with erectile dysfunction associated with antidepressants saw considerably better erectile function when taking 30 mg of saffron daily for four weeks. Additionally, consuming 30 mg of saffron daily increases sexual desire and lessens sex-related pain in women who previously had poor sexual desire. Scientific research claims saffron may be significantly effective for female sexual dysfunction.
Saffron is a safe and effective natural treatment for PMDD. Saffron has a well-established history of relieving pain, both in the case of labour pain and renal colic. Furthermore, saffron has the same sedative, antispasmodic, and anxiolytic properties as benzodiazepines.
Saffron works wonders to lessen PMS symptoms and menstrual discomfort. Also known as “sunshine spice,” saffron elevates serotonin levels, which are often low during menstruation, hence improving mood. It is also helpful in reducing cravings, headaches, and menstrual difficulties.
With eight weeks of supplementation, saffron is a safe and effective way to help people with allergic asthma with their clinical symptoms. Safranal and crocin, two of saffron’s active ingredients, have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help with asthma. However, the toxicity and long-term effects of saffron consumption remain unknown.
In patients with allergic asthma, saffron is beneficial in reducing clinical lung symptoms. Clinical tests also show saffron’s potential in relieving period cramps. It also elevates moods by assisting the brain’s production of serotonin, or the “happy chemical.” Furthermore, taking 30 milligrams of saffron every day increases libido in both men and women.
As with any dried herb or spice, saffron has a relatively short shelf life for retaining maximum flavour. However, it is possible to extend it by storing saffron in an airtight container in a cold, dry spot away from sunlight.
Never purchase pre-ground saffron, as it is probably a mixture of ingredients such as turmeric and smoked paprika rather than pure saffron. When buying saffron, be sure to check for:
Here are some of the best ways to use saffron:
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Saffron is an expensive spice so be aware if you find it at an extremely low cost since it could be an adulterated version. Hence could not offer the best health benefits.
When purchasing saffron, there are simply three things to consider. Saffron threads are entirely red, dry, brittle to the touch, and with a faint floral and fresh scent that is never musty. Consider keeping saffron in a cold, dark place away from heat sources and direct sunlight by using airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags.
Taking large amounts of saffron is unsafe. When taking saffron as a medicine, it usually ranges in doses up to 100 mg daily for a maximum of 26 weeks. High doses of 4-5 grams or more can cause poisoning. Doses of 10-20 grams cause death, according to a 2012 study.
People can consume 1.5 grams of saffron daily. However, to obtain its health benefits, consume 30 mg of saffron. It is better to consult a health expert before making any changes in the diet.
Here are some precautions to take:
The recommended amount of saffron is 1.5 g per day (consume 30 mg for best results). Too much saffron (more than 5 g) is detrimental to health and may cause death. Pregnant women, patients who will go through surgery and people who are allergic must avoid having saffron.
Saffron has several health benefits and while the cost may be daunting using just a little enhances the flavour profile of your food. Also, there is no need to consume it daily. Add a couple of strands to your curd with a little bit of jaggery once a week to get your sweet fix but in a healthy, wholesome and delicious way.
Saffron has a flowery, earthy, yet sweet flavour and pairs well in both savoury and sweet recipes. Use only a pinch of saffron because too much of it can make a meal bitter. It also holds true for supplementing with saffron. Additionally, saffron may be an aphrodisiac for both men and women. The colour of high-quality saffron is either dark red or reddish orange. To avoid buying adulterated saffron, make sure to buy it from a reliable supplier or retailer.
Disclaimer: The purpose of this article is just to disperse knowledge and raise awareness. It does not intend to replace medical advice from professionals. For further information, please contact our certified nutritionists Here.
A. Saffron is rich in antioxidants and has various health benefits, such as improving mood, libido, and period cramps.
A. Yes, saffron is well known for its antidepressant effects. It keeps norepinephrine, serotonin, and dopamine at balanced levels. Several investigations show that saffron is a promising agent to improve mood and relieve both anxiety and depression.
A. Saffrons’ bitter component increases saliva and gastric secretion. It helps in maintaining a good digestive health. Saffron also encourages the flow of blood to the digestive tract, which lessens the symptoms of upset stomach.
A. Absolutely, saffron’s natural antidepressant properties make it a natural remedy for improving mood. It increases dopamine without changing other brain hormones. Saffron or saffron extract reduces stress and depression.
A. Saffron controls serotonin levels, which aids in feeling full and preventing excessive consumption. Reducing calorie consumption when feeling full will help in weight loss. Saffron also enhances body metabolism, accelerating the thermogenesis process.
A. There are numerous studies proving saffron’s health benefits with scientific evidence. The Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science documented Saffron extract increased dopamine levels. The National Center for Biotechnology Information has several studies on the health benefits of saffron extract.
A. saffron is rich in plant compounds that act as antioxidants, such as crocin, crocetin, kaempferol, safranal, etc. Kaempferol, found in saffron, reduces inflammation and pain. Saffron has shown anti-inflammatory effects in both in-vivo and in-vitro studies.
A. Saffron extract has been used for centuries to treat various ailments. Some of them include diaphoretic, aphrodisiac, emmenagogue, stomachic, etc. Saffron has anti-cancer, antidepressant, anti-ischemic, anti-genotoxic, and many more properties.
A. Pure saffron dosages of up to 1.5g per day are safe. For patients with a variety of illnesses, including Alzheimer’s disease, the usual dosage of saffron is 30 mg. 5 g of saffron has toxic effects on the body. However, the doses may differ as every individual is unique. Therefore, speak with a health professional before making any significant dietary changes.
A. Saffron consumption hardly has any side effects. However, overconsumption can lead to health hazards. Allergic reactions are also possible. Some common side effects include stomach issues, nausea, vomiting, or drowsiness.
A. saffron may help to lower blood sugar levels. Its antioxidant properties may be beneficial for patients with diabetes. However, consuming saffron with other diabetic medications may cause blood glucose levels to drop too low.
A. Absolutely! Saffron can improve your skin tone and give it a beautiful glow. It also removes tan. It is a wonder ingredient that contains antioxidants and vitamin C. It is widely present in several cosmetic products, such as face masks and home beauty remedies.
A. Safflower, sometimes known as the “poor man’s saffron,” is a less expensive alternative to saffron because both of these spices have a similar colouring power. When comparing the two, Safflower has a softer, sweeter flavour similar to chocolate, whereas saffron has a distinct flavour similar to honey. Compared to Safflower, saffron has a little more delicate colour.
A. Sedative medications cause breathing problems and sleepiness. Consuming saffron with sedative medications should be avoided. People with bipolar disorder, allergies, pregnancy or breastfeeding should avoid saffron.
A. One can add saffron to rice, soups, stews, warm liquids, tea, baked goods, etc. Also, make saffron-infused oil by heating olive oil and adding a few strands of saffron. However, remember to consume saffron in moderation to avoid overpowering the dishes.
An evaluation of the effects of saffron supplementation on the asthma clinical symptoms and asthma severity in patients with mild and moderate persistent allergic asthma: a double-blind, randomised placebo-controlled trial