Saffron is native to the Mediterranean, it is one of the highly valued spices known since antiquity (dates back to ancient Egypt) – it was prized for its color, flavor and medicinal properties. Saffron health benefits were appreciated by Mediterranean culture. In X century saffron was cultivated in Spain by Arabs. During Renaissance period saffron was considered the most important commercial product. Nowadays saffron considered exotic spice native of Southern Europe and cultivated worldwide in many countries including Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, Iran, and India.
Saffron is a good source of antioxidants which can fight free radicals and help to prevent several promoting general health. Saffron also contains very specific compounds “crocin” and “crocetin” that promote learning, memory retention, recall capacity and fight fever, flu and cold. These compounds protect central nervous system from oxidative stress preventing Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases as well as protecting from kidney, liver and urinary bladder related diseases.
Saffron is a safe spice but it is not recommended during pregnancy and nursing. Large doses of saffron (1-2 table spoons) can be toxic.
Saffron health benefits – cancer
As it was mentioned above, saffron contains carotene (so called “crocin”) and safranal which can trigger apoptosis (self-suicide of cancerous cells) in a number of different types of cancer (leukemia, ovarian carcinoma, colon adenocarcinoma and soft tissue sarcoma). Crocin and safranal in saffron inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors due to their anti-carcinogenic and anti-mutagenic properties. Saffron’s carotenoids have chemo preventive properties against colon, liver and ovarian cancer. Mexican researchers confirmed saffron’s ability to inhibit human malignant cells. In addition, saffron contains zea-xanthin and lycopene which act like immune modulator protecting human body from cancer.
Saffron health benefits – memory
According to ancient medicine, saffron promotes learning and memory retention. Modern scientists demonstrated that saffron extract (specifically “crocin”) is useful in the treatment of age related mental damages (Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, memory loss).
Saffron health benefits – skin
Saffron health benefits
It was noted that saffron’s nutritional properties are highly beneficial for radiant skin – anti-fungal and anti-bacterial components of saffron make it effective for treatments of skin problems including acne, blemishes and blackheads. Saffron is able to freshen up dull skin, erase dark circles under the eyes, exfoliate skin, stimulate blood circulation and prevent wrinkles.
Several experts recommend local application of mixed saffron with milk and some other healthy component.
Saffron health benefits – respiratory disorders
Saffron can be useful in cases of some respiratory disorders including asthma, cough, whooping cough (pertussis) and lung inflammation. Saffron has pretty unique ability clearing narrow airways from secretion and phlegm – preventing respiratory diseases and reducing the severity of asthmatic attacks.
Saffron health benefits – cardio-vascular system
Saffron controls heart rate – saffron’s minerals (cooper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium) are good in controlling heart beats (slowing down heart bits) which protect the heart health. At the same time, same elements help to control blood pressure and keep heart diseases at bay.
Some experts suggest that saffron’s antioxidants reduce levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, reduce lipoproteins in the blood stream, support oxygen distribution and blood circulation and remove plaques from arteries preventing atherosclerosis.
Saffron health benefits – depression
Saffron contains 5-hydroxytryptophan which boosts blood flow to brain and produce serotonin (so called “happy hormone”, mood boosting hormone). Actually saffron is able to reduce depression and anxiety.
Some people consider saffron as anti-convulsant. According to historians, Kesar used saffron for cheerfulness and wisdom in the body.
Saffron health benefits – digestion
Saffron has also some digestive properties – it is able to improve blood circulation in the digestive system, coat membranes of stomach and colon, soothing gastrointestinal colic and acidity.
Saffron health benefits – hair
Saffron can be effective in cases of hair loss – saffron mixed in liquorice and milk makes an effective topical application to induce hair growth in alopecia (baldness).
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Disclaimer: It is strongly recommended to consult your doctor for professional advice. Above mentioned information and recommendations are just general and should be adapted to each person according to personal health indicators and status.