Did you know about the amazing benefits of saffron or kesar – the marvellous bright red colored spice? This spice, indigenous to Kashmir, Iran, Greece, Spain and some other countries of the world is extensively used in various cuisines. Right from Indian biryani and ras malai to Spanish paella to Italian risotto to the Persian saffron rice, saffron adds an exotic taste to all of these dishes.
In India, saffron has been in use for thousands of years now. It isn’t just used in Indian cuisine for its rich taste and vibrant color but also for its impressive health benefits.
But some might think that it is high in price. But there are three factors that contribute to its price tag – the labor-intensive process behind its harvesting, its rarity, and its wonderful health benefits.
So, saffron isn’t a world-famous spice only for being the costliest spice but for its incredible properties as well. Want to know about saffron benefits? Then, read on, as in this article we share with you why this spice needs to be a part of your spice rack.
Top 13 Benefits of Saffron
Benefits of Saffron are many, but we will stick to only a few that are established by science and accepted by medical professionals. In Ayurveda, Unani Medicine and other traditional forms of treatment, saffron is a very popular substance.
But in this post we stick to the benefits seen through the prism of modern day science.
#1. It is a Powerful Antioxidant
Crocen, picrocrocin, crocetin, safranal and kaempferol are some of the antioxidants present in saffron.
Antioxidants are basically substances that protect your cells from the damage caused by free radicals. If excessive damage is caused by these free radicals, it can lead to various diseases including cancer, Parkinson’s, inflammatory diseases etc. Antioxidants help to prevent these diseases and saffron is full of them.
That makes this one of the best kesar benefits, doesn’t it?
#2. Relieves the Symptoms of Depression and Elevates Mood
One of the most impressive health benefits of saffron includes that it relieves the symptoms of depression and helps boost your mood. Often, saffron is also referred to as the ‘sunshine spice’.
Some studies that were conducted found out that saffron supplementation daily worked as effectively as other medicines that were conventionally used for depression. A study even found out that in women who suffered from postpartum depression, saffron supplementation worked better than other conventional medicines.
Saffron is quite effective in relieving the signs and symptoms of anxiety as well.
So, if you suffer from bouts of anxiety or depression, try to add saffron to your diet to feel better.
#3. Relieves the Symptoms of PMS and Menstrual Cramps
Did you know that saffron could help reduce the signs of PMS as well as menstrual cramps? Yes, that’s true.
It has been discovered that saffron can help relieve these symptoms significantly. It is because saffron reduces a stress hormone called cortisol, thus reducing the effect of PMS. It is also known to reduce the severity of cramps to a great extent.
#4. Has Cancer Fighting Properties
Another one of the amazing saffron benefits includes that it has cancer fighting properties. Researchers have discovered that saffron contains compounds that can inhibit human malignant cells.
In test-tube studies too, saffron collectively killed colon cancer cells. Saffron can also be effective for breast, skin, bone marrow, lung as well as prostate cancers.
Saffron’s cancer fighting properties could be due to the presence of an antioxidant named ‘crocin’ in it.
#5. Improves Heart Function
Studies have found out that saffron can also be quite effective in maintaining healthy heart health.
The substances present in saffron can be effective in lowering cholesterol. The substances present can also prevent the arteries and blood vessels from clogging.
What’s more, the presence of kaempferol in saffron can be beneficial in increasing your heart’s pumping capacity.
Researchers have also found that saffron improved conditions of patients who suffered from heart-related diseases.
So, to have a healthy heart, consider including saffron in your diet.
#6. Is Effective in Improving Vision
Saffron has also proven to be quite effective in patients suffering from AMD or age-related macular degeneration. Studies have shown that daily saffron supplementation of about 20 mg resulted in a significant improvement in their eyesight.
Saffron is known to be beneficial for improving your vision. This effect is likely because of the presence of crocin. This makes it one of the most impressive health benefits of saffron.
#7. Can be Effective in Reducing Blood Sugar Levels
Did you know that one of the kesar benefits includes having an effect on blood sugar levels as well? The presence of kaempferol in saffron has been linked to the reduction of blood sugar levels.
This has also been shown with the help of test tube studies. These test tube studies revealed that saffron lowered blood sugar levels and increased insulin sensitivity.
So, if you suffer from type 2 diabetes or are on the verge of it, saffron is definitely worth a try.
#8. Can be Effective in Improving Memory
The many benefits of saffron also includes improving memory. This makes saffron especially amazing for those suffering from Alzheimer’s A study conducted found out that saffron extract improved the cognitive function and reduced dementia in Alzheimer’s patients.
Saffron extract is also extensively used for treatment of memory loss. The effect on improved memory could be due to the presence of crocin in saffron.
#9. Is Effective in Reducing Blood Pressure
What’s more, the many health benefits of saffron also include reduction in blood pressure. A study conducted on adults found out that the adults who consumed saffron had significantly reduced their blood pressure over a period of time.
Saffron, when consumed in small amounts could help reduce blood pressure significantly after a certain period of time.
#10. Can be Helpful in Boosting Immunity
Looking for ways to enhance your immunity? Add a dash of saffron to your recipes, not just to make them tastier, but also as an aid for a better immune system.
A study conducted on 45 healthy adults revealed that saffron increased their white blood cell count, thus increasing their immune response without any adverse effects. So, saffron can be quite effective in enhancing immunity.
This sounds like one of the best saffron benefits, doesn’t it? Add saffron to your diet for this amazing health benefit.
#11. May Aid in Weight Loss
Yes, you read that right. Saffron can be effective in weight loss. So, if you are trying to lose weight, you might want to add this spice to your diet.
It has been observed that saffron can curb your appetite and hence help reduce unwanted cravings and snacking. Saffron has also been observed to slow down fat absorption and the digestion process. Saffron might also improve glucose and fat utilization for energy. All of these factors can contribute to a significant weight loss.
So, saffron can be quite effective in weight management.
#12. Protects Your Brain
Want to know one more of the top benefits of saffron? It can be quite helpful in protecting your brain.
We already saw that saffron is extremely rich in antioxidants and this antioxidant activity can reduce the damage caused to the brain. Along with it, saffron also reduces inflammation in the brain. Saffron can also prevent cell death in the brain and helps the cells against progressive damage.
All in all, saffron is quite effective in maintaining your brain health.
#13. Is Good for Your Skin
Did you know that saffron is also quite beneficial for your skin? Yes, that is true! And that is also the reason that saffron is used as the main ingredient in many beauty and cosmetic products around the world.
Studies have also suggested that saffron can be quite effective in protection against the harmful UV rays. This could be because of the presence of kaempferol in it. This is also why saffron is used in many sunscreens.
Not just for internal use, saffron can also be used externally for better moisturization and a better complexioned skin. It can be used in reducing pigmentation, removing tan, improving complexion as well as for a glowing skin.
How to Eat Saffron for Maximum Benefits?
Now that we know about the amazing benefits of saffron, let us now take a look at how to intake saffron.
Using saffron is very easy. You just need to soak a few strands of saffron in some milk/ water before using them. Only a small amount of these saffron strands is needed.
After soaking them for at least 10 to 15 minutes, you can use saffron for the following
- In masala milk or turmeric milk
- For making biryani
- For making saffron rice and some other rice dishes
- As an addition to sweets like ras malai, gulab jamun, kulfi, halwa etc.
- For using it in curries like lamb curry, chicken curry etc.
You can also mix some saffron with the malai from milk/ turmeric powder/ basil leaves etc. to treat certain skin issues.
Over to You
All in all, saffron has some amazing health benefits. But, remember that you only need a very small quantity of saffron as that is enough to give you its benefits. Also to reap the amazing benefits of saffron, it is crucial that the saffron you use is pure and of high quality and not the cheap quality, adulterated saffron.
So, what are you ordering today?
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Mir Saeid is the Growth Hacker of Kashmirica, a brand that is poised to ‘Bring Exclusives from Kashmir to You’. An enthusiastic cultural entrepreneur, he is driven by a passion to bring about a social impact. He has a Masters in International Business from the University of Bedfordshire and has worked in leading Marketing positions at various SMEs and Startups for 8+ years.
A polyglot who English, Arabic, Urdu & Koshur, Mir loves traveling, reading, researching, and writing. And that is why he keeps writing about art, culture, life, philosophy, health, and just about everything else he knows.