Saffron for health
Saffron is one of the highly valued spices known since antiquity for its color, taste and healing properties. These are dry droplets or threads of blooming plant saffron. It is an onion-year-round plant belonging to the family Iridaceae, Crocus and botanically known as Crocus sativus. This exotic spice is currently grown in many countries around the world, especially in Iran, Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey and the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Each flower contains a perianth (flower cover) consisting of a style (stem), joining in three junctures. These junks have a purple-red color at the time of the top ripeness, with tiny orange-yellow tones at the end and, together with the style, form the basis of this highly prized spice.
Saffron has a distinctive flavor that comes from ingredients such as picrocrocin and safranal. It also contains a natural carotenoid compound, crocin, which gives the saffron a golden yellow hue. These properties, along with its healing properties, make this food a valuable ingredient in many kitchens around the world.
Health benefits of saffron
- Flowers are composed of several essential volatile oils, the most important of which is safranal, which gives saffron its pleasant taste. Other volatile oils contained in saffron are cineol, phenethenol, pinene, borneol, geraniol, limonene, p-cymen, linalool, terpinene-4-oil.
- This colorful and tasteful spice also has many non-volatile active ingredients. The most important of these is? -Crocin, a carotenoid compound that gives pistils their natural golden-yellow color. It also contains other carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, lycopene, β- and β-carotenes. These are important antioxidants that help protect the human body from oxidative stress.
- Saffron is an excellent source of minerals such as copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cellular and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. The human body uses manganese and copper as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for the production of red blood cells and as a co-factor for cytochromoxidase enzymes.
- In addition, it is also rich in many vital vitamins, including vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin and vitamin C, which are essential for optimal health.
Therapeutical use of saffron
- The active ingredients contained in saffron are used in many traditional medicines because they are anti-spasmodic, carmine, diaphoretic.
- Research studies have shown that the safranal volatile oil contained in saffron has antioxidant, cytotoxic, anticonvulsive and antidepressant properties.
- A-Cucine, a carotenoid compound that provides a saffron of characteristic golden-yellow color, has antioxidant, antidepressant and anti-tumor properties.