Health benefits of Saffron
- Saffron contains many plant derived chemical compounds that are known to have anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.
- The flower stigma are composed of many essential volatile oils but the most important being safranal, which gives saffron its distinct hay-like flavor. Other volatile oils in saffron are cineole, phenethenol, pinene, borneol, geraniol, limonene, p-cymene, linalool, terpinen-4-oil, etc.
- This spice has many non-volatile active components; the most important of them is α-crocin, a carotenoid compound, which gives the stigmas their characteristic golden yellow color. It also contains other carotenoids including zeaxanthin, lycopene, α- and β-carotenes. These are important antioxidants that helps protect body from oxidant-induced stress, cancers, infections and acts as immune modulators.
- The active components in saffron have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-oxidant, digestive, anti-convulsant.
- This novel spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
- It is also rich in many vital vitamins including vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that are essential for optimum health.
- The active components present in saffron have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines since long time ago as anti-spasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic.
- Research studies have shown that, safranal, a volatile oil found in the spice, has antioxidant, cytotoxicity towards cancer cells, anticonvulsant and antidepressant properties.
- Αlfa-crocin, a carotenoid compound, which gives the spice its characteristic golden yellow color, has anti-oxidant, anti-depressant, and anti-cancer properties.