Saffron/Zafran/Kesar or Crocus Sativus (I am sure nobody calls it that :)) is an amazing spice that makes our dishes golden & royal and also offers many health benefits. The Health benefits of saffron have now been proven due to many studies involved recently. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world because growing it and harvesting need to be done precisely and with utmost care that requires manual labor. One plant of saffron produces just 2 to 3 flowers and each flower produces just 2-3 strands of saffron, so you can imagine how difficult it is to harvest it. The saffron must be harvested by hand so it involves hours of manual labor and needs to be handled with care. This aromatic herb contains three main components, crocin, crocetin, and safranal. These compounds are responsible for the aroma, color, and health benefits.
Well, saffron is worth all the effort as it has been proven to show many health benefits such as heart health booster, anti-convulsant (prevents seizures), anti-depressant, and even good for treating addiction withdrawal symptoms along with some beauty benefits. These are just to name a few. Read along to get amazed about all the health benefits of saffron and how to add it to your daily diet!
Health Benefits of Saffron
1. Libido Enhancer
As the saffron milk is considered a mood-setter, the saffron can even make the sex pain go away (helpful for the newcomers). It is also known to provide better lubrication for women thereby making it a pleasant experience for the couple. So now you know why the ‘saffron milk’ is given to the newly-wed couples in India!
Saffron is rich in antioxidants due to the presence of crocin in it. So it acts as a good anti-aging agent as well. That means you can have your saffron-flavored cake and eat it too! Ta ..da… I am not kidding, you can always make a saffron-flavored cake (read on to know how!)
3. Depression treatment
Depression and its struggle are so real! Apart from stress and circumstances, stress hormones play a vital role in causing it. Saffron is known to reduce the levels of this stress hormone for good. The blissful flavor of warm saffron milk served in a terracotta cup is so serene that it makes you feel on the top of the world (especially in winters). This flavor and the anti-anxiety properties of saffron lower the levels of the stress hormone cortisol. So that you can feel more like yourself. This study proves it, however, some further research is still needed to find if their effectiveness lasts for a long time or not.
Saffron has quite an aggressive effect on cancer cells, especially in liver cancer. It inhibits the production of cancer cells and leads to their destruction as well, thereby making it a great anti-cancer herb. It removes the nodules in the liver and blocks inflammation. It is known to be useful in treating fatty liver as well see the full study here.
We eat first from our eyes, so the presentation of that beautiful biryani or a sweet Kheer (rice cooked in heavy cream and milk with dry fruits and sugar) with an inviting aroma will make even the tantrum-kings hungry. Give it a try. Please refer to the section on how to use saffron in food for more details below.
6. PMS symptoms helper
PMS or Premenstrual Syndrome is a regular thing for all women in their reproductive ages. If you are craving sugar, feeling weepy, highly emotional, and want to kill the whole world then you are going through your PMS which means your menstrual cycle is near. These symptoms play havoc on you as well as your family members, let’s try to mellow them down with some hot saffron tea or a sweet saffron cardamom flavored cake!
If you are suffering from menstrual or menopausal or fertility-related problems then read these benefits of Shatavari for Females.
7. Helps in Weight Loss
Weight loss is something that all of us dream about, even if it’s just the love handles or that adorable muffin top, Saffron is here to offer some tini-tiny help as well. As saffron helps in providing the feeling of fullness, this satiety leads to weight loss as you will experience fewer cravings so less weight gain! If you want to lose some serious weight without starving then the GM diet chart is what we want to offer for easy-peasy weight loss.
8. Decreased risk of heart disease
These magically red strands can also keep your cholesterol levels in check, thereby boosting heart health. Not just that, this wonderful spice can also control hypertension and acts as an anti-oxidant as well. Do you really need to know the rest of the benefits after knowing this? well more the better!
9. Good for eyes
Apart from our famous gross saliva trick, saffron will be a great addition in your routine to keep your eyes as good as new always.
10. Improves Memory
Mental illness is so harsh on the patient and the caregivers. Alzheimer’s is one of the most disturbing ones. Although saffron can act as a great help for people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, playing some brain games and juggling your brain cells (puzzles) on a regular basis is what should be practiced to delay its occurrence.
11. ED treatment
Erectile dysfunction symptoms improve with the saffron used especially if the ED is due to depression or anxiety. Talking to your partner and seeking help from an andrologist is strongly advised to treat the problem as soon as possible.
12. Diabetes control
These fragrant red strands raise insulin sensitivity in your body so it will be a suggested addition to the diet of a diabetic person. As it helps in achieving better sugar control with less effort. Read more about the best home remedies for sugar that work better than insulin.
We have a whole lot of articles on diabetes –
13. Well being of Digestive System
Saffron has shown promising results in the treatment of ulcers, stomach problems, and even urination problems with regular usage. So having it once in a while will also keep your digestive system in shape and well-oiled.
14. Multiple Sclerosis
In a neurological disorder named multiple sclerosis or MS, the brain cells lose their outer covering (myelin sheath) which leads to their destruction ultimately. Saffron protects the brain cells which form myelin thereby protecting further brain cell destruction. This finding of the benefit of saffron in MS is said to be in its early stages but still shows some promising outcomes.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is quite common nowadays, saffron has shown equal effectiveness in the symptoms as ADHD medicines. This is a very encouraging result for those looking for a herbal alternative to ADHD medicine. This shows that taking saffron can replace the medicine, do check the study to know more about the dosage, and don’t forget to discuss it with your health professional before starting it.
Beauty Benefits of Saffron
16. Hair loss treatment
Losing hair is not a good thing especially when the new hair refuses to come out. Sometimes some areas are formed in the scalp where the hair growth is lesser than the other areas. For patchy hair loss, you can mix saffron in licorice and milk, make a paste and apply it to the scalp. Wash it after keeping it for about 2 hours. Oiling your scalp with a good oil mix helps in boosting their growth too, also vitamin B12 deficiency can also be the culprit for your mane tantrums.
17. For a Radiant Glow
Want to glow like the rising sun? Saffron is to the rescue, make your own saffron serum by keeping the 10 gm saffron strands in a small bottle (100 ml) of rose water. Use it as a serum daily, (dab a few drops on the face). Always perform a patch test to avoid any allergic reactions to natural products. More uses of rose water here.
18. Use as Kumkum by mixing with turmeric (Haldi)
Indian women apply the vermilion or kumkum on their forehead (and in the hair) as a symbol of being married and are considered very auspicious too. You can make your own kumkum by mixing some strands with turmeric and keeping it in a liquid or dry form. Don’t make it in large quantities, just 10-15 gm solution or dry powder will last a long time.
How to Use Saffron
Soaking in warm milk or warm water for a while is useful in adding flavor and color to all dairy and rice dishes. You can soak it in water for rice and other spicy dishes, but soaking in milk is the best option for dairy-based food items.
Precautions & Things to Consider about Saffron
- Pregnant women and nursing mothers must avoid high dosages, taking just 3-4 strands in milk once are more than enough.
- Always try to buy the strands instead of powder as there are fewer chances of adulteration in it.
- Don’t expect a miraculous effect right away, the purpose of this post is to tell you that adding saffron to your diet can actually give you some amazing benefits but expect them in the long run!
How to Consume saffron for its Health Benefits
- Saffron Tea – Give yourself a saffron treat by making a saffron tea by infusing some saffron strands in the hot water. You can add green tea leaves as well or just enjoy it with cardamom. Bliss is guaranteed!
- Saffron Almond Milk – Soak some saffron strands in the lukewarm milk, and add crushed or chopped almonds in it along with some cardamom powder. When it comes to room temperature, then chill in the refrigerator and serve it in the terracotta mugs to give it a nice earthy flavor too. You can have it hot as well during the winter. Do read the benefits of earthen pots.
- Biryani Rice – Biryani is a savory rice dish that includes veggies, spices, and curd. Dish recipes vary regionally a lot. One thing that remains constant is the addition of saffron in ‘Shahi Biryani’ (Royal Biryani)’. Adding saffron soaked in a tablespoon of warm water is a usual practice.
- Cakes, Pastries – You can add saffron to the cake and pastries like you do with Vanilla. Soaking in milk or water is your choice as per the recipe, however, milk is the preferred choice for desserts.
These Terracotta mugs and saucer set is a good choice if you can’t find any in your local market.
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References for Further reading about the Health Benefits of Saffron