saffron is the most expensive spice in the world — with 1 pound (450 grams) costing between 500 and 5,000 U.S. dollars.
The reason for its hefty price is its labor-intensive harvesting method, making the production costly.
Here are 8 impressive health benefits of saffron.
saffron contains an impressive variety of plant compounds that act as antioxidants — molecules that protect your cells against free radicals and oxidative stress.
Crocin and crocetin are carotenoid pigments and responsible for saffron’s red color. Both compounds may have antidepressant properties, protect brain cells against progressive damage, improve inflammation, reduce appetite, and aid weight loss (2, 3).
SUMMARY: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.
saffron is nicknamed the “sunshine spice.”
That’s not just due to its distinct color, but also because it may help brighten your mood.
Other studies found that taking 30 mg of saffron daily was just as effective as Fluoxetine, Imipramine, and Citalopram — conventional treatments for depression. Additionally, fewer people experienced side effects from saffron compared to other treatments (7, 8, 9).
While these findings are promising, longer human studies with more participants are needed before saffron can be recommended as a treatment for depression.
SUMMARY:saffron may help treat symptoms of mild-to-moderate depression, but more studies are needed before definite recommendations can be made.
This effect also applies to skin, bone marrow, prostate, lung, breast, cervix, and several other cancer cells (13).
While these findings from test-tube studies are promising, the anticancer effects of saffron are poorly studied in humans, and more research is needed.
SUMMARY:saffron is high in antioxidants, which may help kill cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. However, more human research is needed.
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a term that describes physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms occurring before the start of a menstrual period.
Studies show that saffron may help treat PMS symptoms.
SUMMARY:Both eating and smelling saffron appears to help treat PMS symptoms, such as irritability, headaches, cravings, pain, and anxiety.
Aphrodisiacs are foods or supplements that help boost your libido.
Studies have shown that saffron may have aphrodisiac properties — especially in people taking antidepressants.
SUMMARY:saffron may have aphrodisiac properties for both men and women and may especially help those taking antidepressants.
Snacking is a common habit that may put you at risk of gaining unwanted weight.
According to research, saffron may help prevent snacking by curbing your appetite.
SUMMARY:saffron has been shown to reduce snacking and curb your appetite. In turn, these behaviors may help you lose weight.
saffron has been linked to other health benefits that have not yet been extensively studied:
- 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 (21, 22, 23).
- 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 (24, 25).
- 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 (26, 27, 28).
- May improve memory in adults with Alzheimer’s disease: saffron’s antioxidant properties may improve cognition in adults with Alzheimer’s disease (29).
SUMMARY:saffron has been linked to several other potential health benefits, such as improved heart disease risk, blood sugar levels, eyesight, and memory. However, more studies are needed to draw stronger conclusions.
In small doses, saffron has a subtle taste and aroma and pairs well with savory dishes, such as paella, risottos, and other rice dishes.
The best way to draw out saffron’s unique flavor is to soak the threads in hot — but not boiling — water. Add the threads and the liquid to your recipe to achieve a deeper, richer flavor.
saffron is readily avail