Saffron, commonly known as “Kesar” in Hindi and the most expensive spice in the world, is a small, thread-like piece in a beautiful shade of red, yellow, or orange. Saffron is a small stigma of a flower with a honey-like fragrance, scientifically called ‘Crocus Sativus’, which is cultivated and harvested by hand with a lot of labour. It takes nearly 75,000 flowers to be dried out later to create 1 pound of Kesar spice, and that’s the reason it costs so much.
One pound (450 grams) of saffron costs between $500-$5000 and estimated worldwide saffron production is 300 tons. In India, the production is around 17 tons, and the price per kg ranges from 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh.
Saffron comprises various vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Niacin, Thiamine, Riboflavin, and Folate, and has a good source of nutritional components such as protein, energy, magnesium, iron, calcium, zinc, copper, fibre, phosphorus, etc. Saffron also includes beneficial properties like anti-inflammatory, antioxidants, and anti-Alzheimer.
Why, how, and when do you use saffron?
Saffron has various healing properties alongside beauty regimes. Let’s understand some of those,
- It works as a pain reliever.
- It helps enhance memory.
- It may help protect the liver.
- It helps with digestion.
- It helps with low blood pressure.
- It helps maintain the blood cholesterol level.
- It helps to reduce signs of aging, etc.
Health Benefits of Saffron for the Skin
- Saffron helps to protect the skin from UV radiation.
It works as a natural UV absorbing agent, and because of its compounds such as kaempherol, gallic, tannic acid, quercetin, etc., they use it in skin lotions and sunscreens. Excessive use of saffron can make skin look yellow; therefore, using it in a small amount is preferable.
- It helps in enhancing the complexion. While any complexion is beautiful, the use of saffron on the face and body can make any skin tone look beautiful and attractive. Saffron also helps to reduce dark circles and manage acne and infections. Even brides also prefer to use saffron products before their wedding for a pretty glow.
Health Benefits of Saffron for the Eyes
Saffron helps in improving vision and managing various eye problems such as soreness of the eyes, cataracts, etc… it also forms a part of the eye’s kohl for females as make-up. However, it’s preferred to consult a specialist before using saffron for eyes and related issues, because the eyes are the most sensitive organ in your body.
Benefits of Saffron for Cancer-Risk
The two major compounds, crocin and crocetin present in Kesar, have the potential to reduce cancer risk and can be used to treat cancer patients. Yet it is recommended to wait for more medical confirmation before taking saffron supplements.
Benefits of saffron for males and females
Research suggests that saffron can be used to treat male infertility and improve the sperm function of a male body, however, consultation with a doctor before any use of saffron for the same is recommended. Research also suggests that it may offer relief from menstrual discomfort and premenstrual syndromes.
Benefits of Saffron for Digestion, Immunity, and Cholesterol
Anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory properties help in treating gastrointestinal disorders, reduction of cholesterol levels, and curbing appetite. It also helps to aid weight loss and the daily consumption of saffron milk (according to the prescribed dosage) can build immunity in the body.
Health Benefits of saffron on the Heart
Saffron reduces the risk of heart disease by strengthening the circulatory system and suffering from high blood pressure. It also helps to reduce the severity of atherosclerosis.
- Saffron may improve the memory of adults with Alzheimer’s because of its anti-Alzheimer property.
- Crocin in saffron can help to treat Insomniac candidates.
- It also helps to improve brain health because of its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Research also suggests that it could be useful for patients with liver issues.
How to Use Saffron
Apart from the healing properties and benefits of saffron, the colour and aroma of saffron is also mesmerizing and can be used to make your food look more attractive.
- We can use a pinch of saffron powder in 1 cup of boiled milk with some sugar (according to the person) to make saffron milk for daily consumption.
- Saffron-flavoured milk tea is also a great option for royal tea time.
- Saffron threads are used for garnishing dishes to make them look presentable and rich, or can be used as a powder to enhance the taste of your dish.
- The beauty industry use saffron in different skin lotions and sunscreens for regular use.
- Saffron supplements are also available in the Market for consumption as prescribed by your doctor for different purposes.
- Saffron is also used as a natural food dye to make colourful candies.
While saffron comes with countless benefits, the risk and side effects come along. Saffron is generally safe but up to limited consumption. Loads of research have been conducted to specify the correct dose of consumption of saffron, but the result still differs from person to person.
Though some research suggests that consumption of 1.5gms of saffron per day is safe, others suggest 0.03gms of saffron per day is enough for health benefits.
- Pregnant women should be careful while consuming saffron more than the limit, as high dosage of saffron can lead to miscarriages and can cause contractions in the uterus.
- Consumption of saffron in any form, by children and older people, should be made only after consultation with Ayurvedic physicians.
- We should only use Supplements after a prescription from doctors.
- Make sure to purchase saffron from a reputable brand, as fake and adulterer saffron is easily available in the market at cheap prices.
- Though saffron does not expire, it can lose its flavour and taste over time, ensure to check its manufacturing date.
Saffron comprises numerous benefits and uses, and is easier to add to your diet, but being such an influential spice, it is advisable to use it according to to need and prescription.