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Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world – one pound (450 grams) costs between $500 and $5,000.
The reason for its high price is the labor-intensive harvesting method, which makes production expensive.
it is also hand-harvested from the Crocus sativus flower.
The term “saffron” applies to the flower’s thread-like structures, or stigma.
It originated in Greece, where it was respected for its medicinal properties. People eat it to boost libido, improve mood, and improve memory.
So since it’s very expensive it might be a great to check out it’s supplement instead by clicking here.
But before we get to the benifits of it let’s find out the history and some possible uses of it.
History and uses
Saffron is believed to be native to the Mediterranean region, Asia Minor and Iran, and has long been cultivated in Iran and Kashmir and presumably introduced to Cathay by the Mongol invasion.
It is mentioned in Chinese Materia Medica (Pun tsaou, 1552–1578). However, in early times, the main seat of agriculture was in Cilicia, in Asia Minor.
It was cultivated by the Arabs in Spain around the year 961 and was mentioned in the English Book of Leeches, or Handbook of Healing, from the 10th century, but it may have disappeared from Western Europe until the Crusaders reintroduced it.
During different periods, saffron was valued much more than its weight in gold. It is still the most expensive spice in the world.
The golden-colored, water-soluble textile dye was distilled from the stigmas of it in India in ancient times.
Soon after Buddha’s death, his priests made saffron the official color of their robes. The dye has been used for royal clothing in many cultures.
It’s also named among the sweet-smelling herbs in Song of Solomon 4:14. As a perfume, saffron was scattered in Greek and Roman halls, courts, theaters, and baths.
He became particularly associated with the hetairai, a professional class of Greek concubines. The streets of Rome were sprinkled with it when Nero entered the city.
It’s mainly grown in Iran but is also grown in Spain, France, Italy (on the lower reaches of the A Benin mountain range) and parts of India.
A labor-intensive crop, the three stigmas are hand-picked from each flower, distributed on trays, and dried over charcoal fires for use as flavoring and food coloring.
A pound (0.45 kilograms) of saffron represents 75,000 flowers.
It also contains 0.5 to 1 percent of the essential oil, the main component of which is picrocrocin. The coloring matter is crocin.
And now after we’ve learned about it’s history let’s catch on it’s benefits.
It contains an impressive array of plant compounds that act as antioxidants – molecules that protect your cells from free radicals and oxidative stress.
Notable antioxidants in saffron include crocin, crostin, safranal, and kaempferol.
Crocin and crocetin are carotenoid pigments that are responsible for the red color of saffron. Both compounds may have antidepressant properties, protect brain cells from progressive damage, improve inflammation, reduce appetite, and aid weight loss.
It also gives its distinctive taste and aroma. Research shows that it may help improve your mood, memory, and learning ability, as well as protect brain cells from oxidative stress.
Finally, kaempferol is found in the petals of the saffron flower. This compound has been linked to health benefits, such as reduced inflammation, anticancer properties, and antidepressant activity.
Saffron is nicknamed “the spice of the rising sun”.
This is not only because of its distinctive color, but also because it may help improve your mood.
In a review of five studies, it’s supplements were significantly more effective than placebos in treating symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
Other studies found that taking 30 mg of saffron daily was just as effective as fluoxetine, imipramine, and citalopram – traditional treatments for depression. Additionally, fewer people experienced side effects from saffron than other treatments.
Furthermore, both saffron petals and thread-like stigma appear to be effective against mild to moderate depression.
While these results are promising, longer human studies with more participants are needed before it can be recommended as a treatment for depression.
3. May Have Cancer-Fighting Properties
Saffron is rich in antioxidants that help neutralize harmful free radicals. Free radical damage has been linked to chronic diseases, such as cancer.
In test-tube studies, saffron and its compounds have been shown to selectively kill colon cancer cells or inhibit their growth, while leaving healthy cells unharmed.
This effect also applies to the skin, bone marrow, prostate, lung, breast, cervix, and many other cancer cells.
Furthermore, test tube studies have found that crocin – the main antioxidant in saffron – may make cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy drugs.
While these results from test-tube studies are promising, the anti-cancer effects of it have not been well studied in humans, and more research is needed.
4. Could Reduce PMS Symptoms
Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a term describing the physical, emotional and psychological symptoms that occur before the onset of menstruation.
Studies indicate that saffron may help treat symptoms.
For women aged 20-45 years, 30 mg of saffron daily was more effective than a placebo in treating PMS symptoms, such as irritability, headache, cravings, and pain.
Another study found that simply sniffing it for 20 minutes helped reduce PMS symptoms such as anxiety and lowered levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Sex stimulants are foods or supplements that help increase your libido.
Studies have shown that saffron may have aphrodisiac properties – especially in people who take antidepressants.
For example, taking 30 mg of saffron daily over four weeks significantly improved erectile function compared to a placebo in men with antidepressant-related erectile dysfunction .
Additionally, an analysis of six studies showed that taking it significantly improved erectile function, libido, and overall satisfaction but not semen properties.
In women with low libido due to taking antidepressants, 30 mg of saffron daily over four weeks reduced sex-related pain and increased libido and lubrication, compared to placebo.
6. May Reduce Appetite and Aid Weight Loss
Snacking is a common habit that may put you at risk of unwanted weight gain.
According to research, saffron may help prevent snacking by curbing appetite.
In one eight-week study, women who took saffron supplements felt significantly more full, ate fewer snacks, and lost significantly more weight than women in the placebo group.
In another eight-week study, taking a saffron extract supplement significantly reduced appetite, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and total fat mass.
However, scientists are not sure how saffron suppresses the appetite and helps with weight loss. One theory is that saffron lifts your mood, which in turn reduces your desire to snack.
It also 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, risotto, and other rice dishes.
The best way to extract the unique flavor of it is to soak the threads in hot – but not boiling water. Add strands and liquid to your recipe for a deeper, richer flavour.
Saffron is readily available in most specialty markets and can be purchased as strands or in powdered form. However, it is better to buy threads, as they give you more versatility and are less likely to be cheated.
Although saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, a small amount of it goes a long way, and you’ll often need little more than a few of your recipes. In fact, using a lot of saffron can give your recipes a strong medicinal taste.
Additionally, it’s available in supplement form.
Saffron is generally considered safe with few or no side effects.
In standard cooking amounts, it also does not appear to cause adverse effects in humans.
As a dietary supplement, people can safely take up to 1.5 grams of it per day. However, only 30 mg of it per day has been shown to be sufficient to reap its health benefits.
On the other hand, high doses of 5 grams or more can have toxic effects. Pregnant women should avoid high doses, as they may cause miscarriage.
As with any supplement, talk to your doctor before taking it in a supplement form.
Another problem with saffron – especially saffron powder – is that it may be adulterated with other ingredients, such as beets, red-dyed silk fibers, turmeric, and paprika. Fraud reduces the cost for manufacturers, because real saffron is expensive to harvest.
Therefore, it is important to buy it from a reputable brand to ensure that you are getting an authentic product. If it seems too cheap, it is best to avoid it.
Saffron is a powerful spice rich in antioxidants.
It has been linked to health benefits, such as improved mood, libido, and sexual function, as well as reduced symptoms and improved weight loss.
Best of all, it’s generally safe for most people and easy to add to your diet. Try incorporating saffron into your favorite dishes to take advantage of its potential health benefits, or buy a supplement online.