Health Benefits of Saffron

Saffron is a type of crocus flower. Saffron spice, which is a common ingredient in Mediterranean cooking, is made from the dried, threadlike parts of the flower. Because it takes 75,000 flowers to get a single pound of saffron, it's considered the world's most expensive spice. 

Saffron is commonly used as a coloring or flavoring agent, but it has also been used therapeutically for thousands of years. Now, you can find saffron in oral supplement form to treat a variety of health issues. 

Health Benefits

Saffron contains numerous health-promoting properties, including: 

  • Crocin
  • Crocetin
  • Picrococin
  • Safranal

It also has large amounts of the following minerals: 

The biological activity of this plant makes it an effective treatment for several health issues. 

Saffron's health benefits include: 

Alleviating Symptoms Associated with Premenstrual Syndrome

Saffron is known to help reduce the negative symptoms of Premenstrual syndrome (PMS). In one study, 60% of the women who took saffron supplements reported a 50% or higher reduction in 17 PMS-related symptoms.

Helping Depression and Anxiety

The active constituents in saffron have antidepressant and antianxiety properties comparable to certain standard medications, including: 

Additionally, people who take saffron for depression or anxiety report fewer negative side effects.

Preventing Heart Disease

The people of Mediterranean countries, where consuming saffron is common, have lower than normal cases of heart disease. This is likely due to saffron's anti-inflammatory properties and cholesterol-lowering benefits. The presence of crocetin in saffron reduces the level of bad kinds of cholesterol in your blood, which indirectly lowers your chances of experiencing heart attacks. Saffron's antioxidant content also provides added heart protection, and can even increase your body's antibacterial and antiviral activity. 

Slowing the Symptoms of Alzheimer's Disease

Research shows that people with Alzheimer's disease who regularly take saffron supplements have significantly better cognitive function than those who don't. Saffron's effects on dementia may be due to the way it's properties prevent the buildup of the protein beta-amyloid in your brain, which researchers believe is one of the potential causes of Alzheimer's disease.

Amounts and Dosage

For many studies on the effectiveness of saffron to treat depression, PMS, and Alzheimer's disease, the dose of saffron is 20 milligrams (mg). 

Each saffron plant flower yields 7mg of saffron, and stores typically sell it in amounts of 30mg. 

Saffron spice contains the following nutrients per 100 grams (g): 

  • Calcium: 111 milligrams (mg), which is 9% of your daily value 
  • Iron: 11.1 mg, which is 9% of your daily value
  • Potassium: 1724mg, which is 37% of your daily value
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 10, 2020

Sources

SOURCES: 

Alzheimer's Association: "Beta-amyloid and the amyloid hypothesis."

BJOG: "Crocus sativus L. (saffron) in the treatment of premenstrual syndrome: a double‐blind, randomised and placebo‐controlled trial."

Food Research International; "Chemical and biological properties of the world's most expensive spice: Saffron."

Iranian Journal of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology: "Specific IgG antibodies (total and subclasses) against Saffron pollen: a study of their correlation with specific IgE and immediate skin reactions."

Journal of Affective Disorders: "Saffron in the treatment of depression, anxiety and other mental disorders: Current evidence and potential mechanisms of action."

Journal of Clinical Pharmacy and Therapeutics: "Saffron in the treatment of patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease: a 16‐week, randomized and placebo‐controlled trial."

Nutrition Facts: "What's the right dose of saffron?"

Nutrition Value: "Spices, saffron"

The Journal of Tehran University Heart Center: "Cardiovascular Effects of Saffron: An Evidence-Based Review."

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