Pregnancy is a time when you receive advice from every mother about your diet, with one general suggestion being to take saffron (kesar) in your food. The world’s costliest spice is the most sought after product by pregnant women who want to give all the best things on earth to the baby in their womb.
There are also women who may advise you against taking saffron because of their bad experiences with the spice. This will leave you confused. You will be in a dilemma whether to take a risk by consuming saffron during pregnancy or forego its benefits by not eating it. We will remove all your doubts related to this herb.
What Is Saffron?
Saffron is the dried stigma of the Crocus sativus flower. If you check the center of the lilac saffron flower, you can find three crimson-colored stigmata. The saffron plant usually bears four flowers, from where the styles and stigmata are collected and dried. It takes 75,000 saffron flowers to make one pound (450g) of saffron. Therefore, this spice, which has culinary and therapeutic properties, is the world’s most expensive spice.
The herb grows in the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, while in India, the state of Jammu & Kashmir is the only place where saffron is cultivated for commercial purposes. Micro-scale production is undertaken in Sweden, Australia, France, England, China and New Zealand.
From ancient times, there is a practice of using saffron as an ingredient in desserts and savory dishes in Asia and the Middle East. In India, saffron is used as a flavoring agent in biryani, kheer, and other traditional sweets. It gives a metallic honey taste with hay-like undertones and luminous yellow-orange coloring the food.
It is also used as a skin enhancer in beauty creams. Traditionally, there is a belief that saffron can act as an appetite booster and aid digestion in pregnant women.
Busting The Most Common Saffron (Kesar) Myth During Pregnancy:
Many older women in your household and social circle advise you to drink saffron milk during pregnancy to help your baby get a fairer skin.
This is a myth as your child’s skin color is determined by his genes and the amount of melanin present in the skin. So saffron has nothing to do with your baby’s skin color.
But if you want to use saffron to help in digestion, you may consume it, as the process of digestion is slow during pregnancy. The spice forms a protective coating in your digestive tract, and this helps to soothe acidity.
Saffron (Kesar) During Pregnancy – Benefits:
Before you begin taking kesar during pregnancy, consult your doctor. Saffron cannot be safe just because it is a herb. Even herbs can wreak havoc and have adverse effects on you and your baby.
Once your OB/GYN gives you the go-ahead, saffron can prove to be a fantastic remedy for you during your pregnancy. Just like everything else in life, moderation is the key to enjoying the following benefits:
1. Forget Those Mood Swings:
During your pregnancy, you will experience hormonal surges. This will have a profound effect on your mood, making you cranky one moment, and impulsive, depressed and teary-eyed at other times.
Saffron acts as an anti-depressant and helps elevate your mood . When you are happy, you will glow and look beautiful. So the next time you look in the mirror and get upset about your ballooning belly, just have some saffron-based snack to feel happy and good about yourself.
2. Kiss High Blood Pressure Goodbye:
Saffron helps reduce blood pressure. So if you are pregnant, this unique property of saffron is something that you want to use to your advantage. Potassium and crocetin present in saffron help lower your blood pressure and don’t worry because this is scientifically proven .
3. Enjoy Your Pregnancy Without Morning Sickness:
While the thought of expanding your family is a beautiful feeling, morning sickness can take away this joy. You can combat nausea and dizziness with saffron. Anecdotal evidence shows saffron-infused tea can work wonders with morning sickness.
4. Better Digestion:
Bloating, gas and constipation go hand-in-hand with pregnancy. The growing fetus exerting pressure on your digestive tract and the hormonal surges are responsible for this. Saffron could be your best friend during pregnancy if you want to take pleasure from optimal digestion. It boosts blood flow to your digestive system and enhances your metabolism. This, in turn, aids in better digestion .
5. Get Rid Of Those Pesky Cramps:
As your baby grows, your muscles and bones will shift and stretch to accommodate the growing baby. This causes cramps and pain in the joints and stomach. Saffron is a natural anti-spasmodic and painkiller that soothes these cramps, allowing you to enjoy your pregnancy.
6. Protect Yourself Against Heart Disease:
Your food cravings can affect with your cardiovascular system. As you consume an increased number of calories and fat during pregnancy, it shouldn’t come as a shock that your heart health goes for a toss. Thankfully, the crocetin, potassium and antioxidants present in saffron can protect you and your baby from heart diseases by reducing triglyceride and cholesterol levels .
7. Get Your Iron Levels Up:
Pregnant women are usually anemic. That is why when you get pregnant, your OB/GYN tells you to consume food rich in iron. Saffron is replete with iron and can help boost your hemoglobin levels. It is best to consume saffron in food to ensure optimal results.
8. Reduce Pregnancy-Related Hair Fall:
Hormonal fluctuations adversely affect your hair, causing them to fall off in clumps. As a result, your confidence takes a beating. Many pregnant women profess they aid hair growth and reduce hair fall by using a paste of milk, licorice and saffron. Apply the paste on the bald spots and then sit back and revel in your lustrous hair growth.
9. Feel Relaxed After A Good Night’s Sleep:
The growing belly, hormonal surges, and stretching bones can make your nights very uncomfortable. If you are spending your nights tossing and turning during pregnancy, saffron-infused tea or milk can be the perfect panacea. It has mild sedative properties that relax you and promote sleep.
10. Beat Those Nasty Zits During Pregnancy:
You may have skin problems due to hormonal fluctuations. Pimple breakouts and melasma or mask of pregnancy are common skin-related problems that pregnant women have to face. Women, who consumed saffron during their pregnancy, claim it helped them combat these common pregnancy-caused skin problems.
11. Stop Sniffles And Congestion Due To Allergens:
Pregnancy makes you more susceptible to allergies and infections. This is because of compromised immune system. Your obstetrician will tell you how to protect yourself against infections, but allergies are a different ballgame. The last thing you will want is an allergy that requires anti-histamine, as it could be dangerous for your baby.
The good news is you no longer have to worry about allergies. Drink milk with saffron to ease your allergies and nasal congestion. And, if you have a fever, mix a few strands of saffron in sandalwood and make a paste. Apply this paste on your forehead to bring down your temperature.
12. Feel thrilled When Your Baby Moves:
Ayurveda states saffron can increase the core body heat. This causes the temperature inside your body to elevate, resulting in your baby moving around. It is always exciting for an expectant mother to feel her baby’s movements, and saffron can make it possible.
13. Make Sore Gums A Distant Memory:
Hormones are responsible for making your gums sore during pregnancy. The soreness can make brushing teeth an ordeal. If you don’t mind the expense involved, grind some saffron and use the powder to massage your gums gently. It can alleviate the soreness and sensitivity, allowing you to maintain optimal oral hygiene.
Other Benefits Of Kesar During Pregnancy:
Saffron contains potassium, a macronutrient that your body needs. Potassium keeps your kidneys healthy by maintaining optimal electrolyte balance.
Studies have also found that people who consume foods rich in potassium have leaner muscle mass and increased bone density. Pregnant women risk leaching of calcium from their bones, as the body takes it for the baby. This can diminish your bone density, causing your bones to get brittle and weak. Calcium loss can also occur from teeth, causing you to suffer from extensive tooth decay. You can ensure the health of your bones and teeth during pregnancy by consuming saffron.
Saffron is also rich in folic acid, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and vitamins A and C, making it the ideal herb for pregnant women.
Side Effects Of Saffron (Kesar) During Pregnancy:
Just because saffron comes from a flower, don’t be under the assumption it is a safe spice to consume during your pregnancy. While saffron offers several benefits to expectant mothers, it also has its share of risks and side effects.
Some of the side effects of consuming saffron during pregnancy include:
Saffron can cause uterine contractions, leading to miscarriage. Ayurvedic practitioners believe saffron increases body heat, which can result in abortion of your fetus. So before you decide to take saffron, get the go-ahead from your obstetrician. Usually, you can consume saffron during your second trimester without worrying about miscarriage.
Some women experience anxiety, nausea, dry mouth, and headaches after consuming saffron. If you come under this category, you are allergic to the most expensive spice in the world. So if you want a smooth pregnancy with no problems, it is best to stay away from saffron.
The last thing you need is throwing up your food. Not only does vomiting make you feel ill and miserable, but it could also deprive your baby of vital nutrients. This side effect of saffron is not pleasant and if you experience it, be sure to consult your doctor.
Saffron during pregnancy can result in serious side effects that will require medical intervention. Some of the acute undesirable effects of saffron consumption that you should keep an eye on are:
- Blood in urine or stool
- Bleeding from eyelids, lips, and nose
- Dizziness and loss of balance
When To Take Kesar During Pregnancy?
As stated earlier, saffron can cause uterine contraction, leading to a spontaneous miscarriage. Hence, don’t be eager to start taking this spice the moment you come to know you are pregnant.
Ayurvedic healthcare experts believe it is safe for expectant mothers to take saffron during the second trimester, preferably from the fifth month onwards. Ayurvedic practitioners claim that you can start taking this spice for its health and nutritional benefits from the time your baby starts moving in the womb.
However, do not take more than 10g of saffron a day. Anything more than this can be dangerous for your child. It can affect the growth and development of your little one.
Tips To Taking Saffron Safely During Pregnancy:
If you intend to take saffron for the first time while you are pregnant, you will have many doubts and questions. So here are some tips to ensure you have no second thoughts about consuming this spice and enjoying its benefits.
1. Speak To Other Mothers:
Check amongst your friends and neighbors if there are women who consumed saffron during their pregnancy. Ask them to share their positive and negative experiences so that you can decide whether you want to take the spice.
2. Consult Your Doctor:
Your obstetrician should be your best friend during pregnancy. You should feel comfortable talking about anything related to your pregnancy. So find out from your doctor if it is safe for you to consume saffron during pregnancy.
3. Enjoy Saffron With Milk:
You need calcium during pregnancy for optimal growth and development of your baby. Once you enter the fifth month of gestation, add a few strands of saffron to your milk. You can also grind up saffron strands with almonds and pistachios to make a creamy paste that you can mix in your milk and make it more nutritious.
4. Add Saffron To Rice Preparations And Soups:
Saffron is an excellent flavoring agent and can elevate any dish. Add saffron to soups and rice preparations to enhance their taste and also enjoy the health benefits. However, make sure you stick to two to three strands. This should be sufficient to impart the characteristic color and flavor to your dish.
Differentiating Between Original And Fake Saffron:
Since saffron is very expensive, there are unscrupulous sellers looking to make a fast buck by palming off fake saffron to unsuspecting customers. So be wary of any seller who claims he has original saffron at an unbelievable price. Remember, if it is too good to be true. You don’t want to consume fake saffron, as it could be dangerous for you and your baby.
Here are some tips that will allow you to discern whether the saffron you have purchased is original or fake:
- Unadulterated and pure saffron is crimson in color with soft orange-red tip. If the saffron you buy is completely crimson, it, probably, is fake.
- Saffron is graded based on its color. The highest grade has the deepest color and obviously costs the most. A trustworthy saffron vendor will always educate you about the grading system and ensure you select the best grade within your budget.
- Make sure the saffron you buy does not have white or yellow threads. If it does, it has been adulterated using other parts of the saffron flower.
- Saffron is available as powder and threads. It is best you opt for threads, as you can do a quick check at home.Original saffron takes time to impart its color to liquids. Immerse a couple of saffron strings in some warm water. If the color turns reddish gold after 10 to 15 minutes, your saffron is pure. On the other hand, if the saffron colors the water the moment you immerse it, it is fake, and you should not consume it.
Tips To Store Saffron:
- You will pay a bomb to buy a little bit of saffron. So make sure your investment offers a good return. Improper storage methods can ruin your saffron, causing you to lose money. Saffron does not spoil, but with time, it loses its flavor.
- After purchasing saffron, store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. This should help the spice to retain its flavor for about six months. Before placing it in the container, wrap the saffron in some foil, as this spice is sensitive to light. This will ensure further protection.
- You also can store saffron in your refrigerator. Wrap it in foil and place in an airtight container. Transfer the container to your fridge. However, saffron has the tendency to absorb moisture. You can prevent the spice from absorbing atmospheric moisture by grinding a small sugar cube using a pestle and mortar. Add the ground sugar to saffron to keep it safe from humidity.
- If you store your saffron correctly, you can keep using it for up to three years, if not more. With time, its flavor will diminish, but the saffron will not go bad or spoil. So, if you want to enjoy the benefits of saffron during your pregnancy, try and use it while it is fresh. Remember never to exceed 10g a day.
How To Use Saffron (Kesar) In Your Food And Milk:
We want to stress the importance of using not more than two to three strands of saffron. High quantity of the spice can be dangerous for you and your baby. Okay, now that we have got this out of the way, let’s take a look at how you can use saffron in your food and milk.
Here are the two most common methods of using saffron in kitchen:
1. The Soaking Method:
This perhaps is the method that most home and commercial cooks employ when using saffron. Gently crush the threads in a pestle and mortar and transfer to warm milk, broth or water. Let the crushed saffron infuse for 10 to 15 minutes and then add the infusion (threads and water) to your milk or recipe.
2. The Crumbling Method:
If you are making healthy and nutritious soup or, want a unique salad dressing, this method of using saffron is perfect. Just crumble the threads with your fingers and add to your preparation. If you want a robust flavor and even coloring, we advise you to first soak the crumbled threads in some warm water. Pour the infusion after 10 to 15 minutes into your dish.
One gram of saffron can be sufficient for about 30 cups of tea. In case you are following a recipe, use as much saffron as directed in the recipe. Otherwise, stick to two to three threads at the most.
Saffron is one such herb that can do wonders during your pregnancy or cause a miscarriage as it is a uterine stimulant . So, exercise caution when using saffron during pregnancy. Too much saffron can be counterproductive and dangerous for you.
Have you used saffron during your pregnancy? What were your experiences? Our readers would love to hear them so feel free to comment below.