20 Incredible Benefits Of Saffron For Health, Skin, and Hair
The luxurious saffron spice has tons of essential nutrients and antioxidants, which may result in weight loss, a healthy heart, improved eyesight, Better mood, and much more!
If you are a foodie or a beauty-conscious person, you must be aware of the uses of saffron. It’s an ancient spice with medicinal and healing properties. Saffron is known as the ‘golden spice’ or ‘red gold’ because of its high price. It’s widely used for cooking and beauty purposes. Apart from the vibrant color and heavenly aroma, the strands of saffron offer high nutritional value. These tiny threads can do big wonders to your health, skin, and hair.
Saffron or kesar is one of the favorite ingredients of chefs and even the cosmetic industry. In this article, we will discuss the saffron benefits to know, and if it is truly worth buying such an expensive spice?
Table of Contents
What is Saffron And Why Is It So Expensive
Saffron or Kesar is the cousin of the lily family. It’s derived from Crocus Sativus or saffron crocus or saffron flower. Saffron has a thread-like structure, which is red in color, basically a stigma (part of the flower that catches the pollen). It’s the most precious ingredient among all other spices because it is harvested manually and carefully picked by hand.
Only three delicate threads (stigmas) can be produced by each flower that blooms in autumn for only one week every year. It’s believed that saffron was first cultivated in ancient Greece.
You will be stunned to know about the uses of Kesar, and its incredible benefits.
Watch: Saffron Benefits
Health Benefits Of Saffron
Saffron is a powerhouse of various antioxidants like crocin and crocetin can prevent your cells from free radicals and oxidative stress. They may have antidepressant properties for protecting brain cells against progressive damage. According to life extension magazine, research has found that saffron, a spice popular in the Mediterranean diet, contains cancer-preventing properties, including inhibiting tumor formation and preventing DNA mutations that can activate cancer genes. Additionally, saffron has been shown to help the harmful effects produced by chemotherapy drugs. (1)
2. May Be Helpful In PMS
PMS, or pre-menstrual syndrome, is a condition that includes physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms which occur before the beginning of a woman’s menstrual period.
A study organized by the Department Of Gynecology /Obstetrics and psychiatry, Tehran and Zanzan university of medical science found that saffron is effective in relieving the symptoms of PMS like headache, irritability, pain, and cravings. A group of women aged (20-45) with regular menstrual cycles and experience of PMS for at least six months was eligible for the trial, and they were given 15 mg of saffron twice a day. (2)
3. Saffron Can Be Helpful In Depression
Depression leads to loss of interest and isolation from the world; hence, it affects the quality of life. 1 in 5 adults reports an episode of depression in their lifetime, and women can develop it twice. Saffron can also be used as part of aromatherapy for relieving stress and a better mood.
Clinical trials have been conducted to confirm the efficacy of saffron in mild to moderate depression. Studies show that saffron can be helpful for relieving the symptoms of depression and it’s is more effective than placebo (a medicine or procedure prescribed for the psychological benefits to the patient rather than for any physiological effect) (3)
4. May Reduce Appetite And Weight
Snack cravings can lead to obesity. Saffron contains carotenoids and polyphenols that can reduce the glucose level and cholesterol in the blood. It has an anti-inflammatory compound, fat reducing agent, and enhances lipid metabolism (digestion and absorption process of dietary fat). You will be glad to know that saffron is a natural supplement with zero calories!
Satiereal is an extract of saffron, which is very beneficial for maintaining an ideal weight. According to a clinical study, women taking satiereal reported a 100% reduction in the desire to snack, 50% fewer instances of eating between meals, less hunger, moderate weight loss, more energy, and better mood. (4)
5. Can Strengthen The Nervous System
Saffron’s components, like crocin, crocetin, and safranal, are rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which helps in improving the nervous system. Crocin can improve brain health and memory retention; hence, it may help manage Parkinson’s disease (It is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away and degenerate) and Alzheimer’s disease (this too is a progressive nervous system disorder that affects movement and cognitive abilities.)
6. May Improve Heart Health
Saffron is an excellent herbal supplement for cardiac health due to thiamine and riboflavin in it. Saffron is loaded with antioxidants that help in the functioning of arteries and blood vessels.
Anti-inflammatory properties are beneficial for maintaining cardiovascular health. The people of Mediterranean countries had lower cases of heart problems with the regular use of saffron. According to pub med.gov, a study on animals shows that saffron can decrease the cholesterol level up to 50% with the help of saffron. Still, more research is needed on a large scale to establish the capability of saffron for improving heart health.
7. Can Relieve Cold Symptoms
Cold and flu are quite common during winter, and its uncomfortable symptoms like a blocked nose, headache, running nose makes your condition miserable. Saffron is hot in nature with antioxidants and healing properties. Hot Kesar milk can be a savior for the patient, and an ancient home remedy says that the application of lukewarm milk with few saffron strands on the forehead may relieve the problems of cold and flu. Quality sleep, improved memory retention, heart health are some noticeable benefits of saffron milk.
8. May Improve Erectile Dysfunction
Saffron strands are effective in improving sexual function in males without any side effects. It’s helpful in sperm morphology and motility in infertile men. Saffron acts as an aphrodisiac (food or supplement that boosts sexual desire). A few strands of saffron in milk works well in helping to raise low libido.
9. Benefits of Saffron In Improving Eyesight
Saffron threads have vision improving and retinol protecting nutrients like Alpha-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and eyanidin-3- glucoside, which protects from dim light vision. Recent studies show that saffron can enhance retinol response, sensitivity to light and improve people’s visual activity with early age-related macular degeneration.
10. Natural Food Additives
Saffron is a healthy spice that can be used for garnishing various dishes. It enhances the flavor and increases the nutritional value of the food. Synthetic food additives can be easily replaced with saffron, which does not cause allergies. Due to its warming properties, it’s a must-have ingredient in the kitchen during winter. Whether you are a biryani lover or you enjoy baking cakes and pastries, saffron will make your dishes naturally appealing and delicious!
11. Saffron Better Than Caffeine
If you are the person who can’t do without tea or coffee in the morning, then saffron
Water is the perfect beverage for you. It’s better than caffeine, which makes you fresh and active throughout the day. Saffron water benefits include reduced hair fall, relieves heavy periods, lowers the sweet cravings, and makes the skin flawless. You can soak 5-7 strands of saffron in water for 20 minutes and consume its empty stomach for at least two weeks to notice the saffron water benefits.
12. Helpful in Slow Puberty
Slower growth and development in growing girls can affect their self-confidence and self-image. Saffron may be able to stimulate the hormones in underdeveloped girls. A pinch of crushed saffron in a tbsp of milk may bring positive results in diagnosed cases of delayed puberty. However, it is best to check with a qualified medical practitioner before introducing saffron-water to the child’s diet.
13. May lower The Blood Sugar Levels
Random and placebo influenced clinical study of investigating metabolism control in humans shows the components of saffron like hydrochloric extracts may lower the glucose level by reducing FBS serum levels in T2D patients. Saffron has plenty of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which help control diabetes. However, further studies are required to claim the benefits of saffron related to blood sugar levels. (5)
Saffron Benefits For Skin
14. May Prevent From UV Radiation
Applying sunscreen is one of the critical steps of a skincare routine, which we shouldn’t skip. Saffron has a natural UV absorbing agent. It has flavonoid compounds like kaempferol and quercetin. It has photo protective benefits due to phenolic compounds tannic, gallic, caffeic, and ferulic acids, which are active ingredients in sunscreen.
A word of caution: An excess amount of saffron can make your skin yellow; hence should be used in moderation.
15. Can Enhance Complexion
If you want to lighten dark spots on your skin, caused either due to inadequate care, or sunburns, then the saffron is a good choice. Saffron is a rich source of vitamins A,B, and C . Take 5 strands of saffron, 5 tbsp milk, and 1 tbsp lemon. Mix them and apply this to your face. Massage for a few minutes and rinse it off. You should avoid lemon juice if your skin is sensitive to it.
16. Saffron can be Natural Toner
Saffron can be used as an effective toning agent that can diminish the blackheads, open pores, and increases blood circulation to the face. You can mix it in rose water and scrub your face. You will get a toned and fresh look in no time!
17. Effective for Dull Skin
Saffron has abundant antioxidants and vitamins that can improve the texture of your skin. Mix 1 tbsp of sandalwood powder with 2-3 strands of saffron and 2 tbsp of milk. This paste can be applied on the face for 15-20 minutes. You can use it every day for brighter skin.
18. Keeps Skin Hydrated And Flawless
Using saffron can be helpful for dry and dehydrated skin due to its moisture-absorbing properties. Soak 7-8 strands of saffron in 1 tbsp of honey. Gently massage your face for 10-15 minutes and wash it off. You will feel the difference in your skin with regular usage.
Saffron Benefits For Hair
19. May Prevent Alopecia
Hairfall and hair loss have become a widespread problem nowadays. Saffron is loaded with antioxidants that can reverse hair loss or alopecia. It helps in repairing hair follicles and increases hair growth.
How to use saffron for hair loss: Mix a few strands of saffron in milk and licorice (licorice) to make a thick paste. Apply it on your scalp and hair and wash it after twenty to thirty minutes. You can follow this process twice or thrice a week.
20. An Excellent Hair Tonic
Saffron is instrumental in arresting hair fall, hair damage, and improved hair growth. Take a few strands of saffron and mix it with olive oil or almond oil. Heat it on a medium flame for a few minutes and let it cool down. Pour the mixture into a clean and dry bottle and use it regularly for healthy curls.
How To Use Saffron
- It’s always recommended to use saffron in moderate quantities; otherwise, it can cause severe or toxic side effects.
- People with a medical condition should consult their doctor before taking saffron.
- Consuming a high amount of saffron can lead to contradictions of the uterus and miscarriage. Pregnant ladies and breastfeeding mothers should avoid it for a safer side or consult their Gynecologist before beginning.
How To Check The Purity Of Saffron
- You can take a sniff. Pure saffron smells a bit like sweet hay. You should look for red stigmas, not yellow stamens.
- Even though it’s not easy to describe saffron’s taste, but it is slightly bitter. Take a few strands of it, suck it, and rub them on a tissue. If any color is there, it means saffron is real.
- You must check for the ISO certification on its packet and always buy it from a reputed brand. As an expensive spice, there may be an adulteration of turmeric, dyed silk fabric, beet, and paprika.
How To Store Saffron
Saffron, or kesar, has a long shelf life and doesn’t spoil or expire, but it can lose flavor and taste after a long time (after 2-4 years). It should be stored in an airtight container and in a dark place. Saffron is sensitive to light, and it can lose its aroma and taste. Harvesting of Kesar is always done before sunrise for the same reason. Saffron can’t be kept in the refrigerator as it can get fungus in a moist environment.
The uses of saffron (kesar) can be innumerable. It makes your food tempting with natural color and flavor. The luxurious saffron spice has tons of essential nutrients and antioxidants, which may result in weight loss, a healthy heart, improved eyesight, Better mood, and much more! The incredible benefits of saffron can be reaped by using a pinch of this majestic spice in cooking and beauty recipes, so a trial is much needed if you haven’t used it earlier.
- Is there an assured way of telling the authenticity of saffron in the market?
Besides looking for the FSSAI mark on the packaging, look for ISO certification. ISO 3632 certification assures that the saffron you are buying is 100% authentic.
- Is saffron recommended during pregnancy?
Prescribing saffron during pregnancy, though in small quantities, is an age old practice as it takes care of the typical hormone surges related with pregnancy, and helps control the mood swings successfully. Consuming just a few strands of original saffron mixed in milk helps regulate the blood pressure in pregnant women. Saffron also helps treat common complaints associated with pregnancy like constipation, flatulence, etc. by enhancing blood flow to the digestive system.
Consuming small quantities of saffron during pregnancy helps in preventing morning sickness, by fighting the nausea and dizziness that most pregnant women suffer from during the early stages of pregnancy.
- Where is saffron commonly grown around the world?
The Eastern Mediterranean climate is believed to be the best for growing saffron because this plant descends from there. Other places which are suitable for saffron cultivation are Eurasia, Iran, Spain, India and Greece. Iran is considered to be the largest producer of saffron in the world accounting to 94% of the total production.
- What are the varieties of saffron grown in India?
The major saffron producing state in India is Jammu and Kashmir. There are three varieties of saffron exclusively cultivated in India.
Aquilla saffron- short variety, less red in color and less costly
Crème saffron- the cheapest variety with high floral wastage
Lacha saffron- dark crimson red in color and most expensive
- Can we grow saffron at home?
Yes, with the right conditions for growth, it is possible to grow saffron at home. Getting the bulbs for planting is easy, but may cost a little higher. When growing saffron at home in a small garden area, the bulbs should be planted to a depth of 3 to 5 inches with a minimum spacing of 6 inches.