New Delhi: Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”. The dried stigmas (thread-like parts of the flower) are used to make saffron spice. It can take 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound of saffron spice. Saffron is largely cultivated and harvested by hand.
Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Currently, saffron is commercially produced in Iran, Greece, Morocco, Spain, Kashmir and Italy. Iran is the most important producer of saffron both, in terms of volume and quality, and Spain being the largest importer of the spice. Saffron is a labour intensive crop, which makes it so expensive. It has three delicate crimson stigmas in the centre, which are hand-picked, placed on a riddle, and cured over heat to amplify its flavour. Apart from being the most expensive spice, there are many benefits of saffron, which makes it even more special.
Here Are 6 Health Benefits Of Saffron (Kesar):
1. Protects against cancer: 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.
2. Promotes learning and memory retention: 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.
3. In delayed puberty: In underdeveloped girls, saffron has an overall stimulant effect. A pinch of saffron crushed in a tablespoon of milk is useful to stimulate hormones and bring about the desired effect.
4. In patchy baldness: Saffron mixed in liquorice and milk makes an effective topical application to induce hair growth in alopecia.
5. Protection against cold: 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.
6. Food Additives: Saffron is an excellent replacement for synthetic food additives- for eg: 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.