Saffron for Health

This article is about nutritional aspects, benefits, advantages, disadvantages and side effects of saffron and also recent studies about this plants' extract. It must be noted that no one will eat an ounce of saffron in one sitting; recipes usually call for half a teaspoon or less, but examining an ounce is a good way to determine the nutritional aspects of this intriguing spice. First, the manganese content is off the charts at nearly 400% of the daily recommended value! Everything else seems a little chintzy after that, but the next-largest nutritional quantities also are quite impressive: vitamin C - 38%; magnesium - 18%; and iron - 17%. Potassium and vitamin B6 both impart 14% of the daily recommended value.

 

 

Manganese helps regulate blood sugar, metabolize carbohydrates, and absorb calcium. It also helps form tissues, bones, and sex hormones. Vitamin C is an infection fighter; iron purifies your blood; and the vitamin B6 content helps form red blood cells and assures nerves will function as they should. Potassium helps balance fluids in cells, which, if low, can cause painful muscle cramps.

Saffron contains a dark orange, water soluble carotene called crocin, which is responsible for much of saffron's golden color. Crocin has been found to trigger apoptosis [ programmed cell death] in a number of different types of human cancer cells, leukemia, ovarian carcinoma, colon adenocarcinoma, and soft tissue sarcoma. Researchers in Mexico who have been studying saffron extract have discovered that saffron and its active components display an ability to inhibit human malignant cells. Not only does the spice inhibit cells that have become cancerous, but it has no such effect on normal cells and actually stimulates their formation and that of lymphocytes [immune cells that help destroy cancer cells].

 

Recent studies have also demonstrated that saffron extract, specifically its crocin, is useful in the treatment of age related mental impairment. In Japan, saffron is encapsulated and used in the treatment of Parkinson’s disease, memory loss and inflammation.

In under developed girls, saffron has an overall stimulant effect. A pinch of saffron crushed in a table spoon of milk is useful to stimulate hormones and bring about desired effect.

 

In low libido saffron aids as a sexual stimulant and can be consumed in a dose of a pinch in a glass of milk at bed time.

Saffron mixed in liquorice and milk makes an effective topical application to induce hair growth in alopecia.

Saffron is a stimulant tonic and very effective to treat cold and fever; saffron mixed in milk and applied over the forehead quickly relieves cold.

Saffron is an excellent replacement for synthetic food additives- for example: instead of FD and C yellow no 5: a synthetic food coloring agent that is a very common allergy trigger, Saffron’s glorious yellow could be an acceptable hypoallergenic choice.

Beyond that, saffron contains more than 150 volatile compounds, among others. Picrocrocin, for instance, is the main substance responsible for the strong taste. Safranal brings saffron its characteristic odor and fragrance. Crocin, which delivers the intense orange color, is an indication of this spice's medicinal qualities, i.e. its powerful carotenoids and antioxidants that can protect your body from free radical damage.

Saffron Nutrition Facts

Serving Size: 1 tbsp (2 grams)

 
Amt. Per Serving
% Daily Value*
Calories
6
 
       Calories from Fat
1
 
Total Fat
0 g
0%
       Saturated Fat
0 g
0%
       Trans Fat
 
 
Cholesterol
0 mg
0%
Sodium
3 mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates
1 g
0%
       Dietary Fiber
0 g
0%
       Sugar
 
 
Protein
0 g
 
Vitamin A
0%
Vitamin C
3%
Calcium
0%
Iron
1%
*Percent daily values are based on a 2,000 calories diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Saffron extract has been shown to be capable of inhibiting and/or retarding the growth of tumors in a variety of experimental models in vivo. A topical application inhibited second-stage skin cancer, and oral administration of saffron extract restricted soft tissue sarcomas and inhibited tumor cell growth in mice. Several studies combined indicated that saffron also may be a promising agent for reducing the side effects from cisplatin (an early, often used cancer drug), including nephrotoxicity (toxicity in the kidneys).

In another study, saffron was examined for its effects on aluminum toxicity and found to significantly reverse harmful aluminum-induced symptoms, such as memory loss and neurological disorders. Saffron extracts improved lipid peroxidation (important for inhibiting diseases in the body) and glutathione levels, which function in the destruction of free radicals. Scientists concluded that saffron has "neuroprotective potential under toxicity.