Saffron – Health benefits, side effects, and usage tips Health

Saffron – Health benefits, side effects, and usage tips

Saffron is a well-known spice with several health benefits. People eat it to boost memory, amplify their mood, and increase libido. However, it may also have side effects if consumed in high doses. Saffron is an expensive spice, costing between $500 and $5,000 a pound. The primary reason for its high cost is the labor-intensive methods used to harvest it. Read on to learn about this spice’s uses, benefits, and side effects.

Health benefits
Saffron has not only a wonderful aroma and color but also innumerable health benefits. For instance, it is a rich source of antioxidants and compounds that work as a natural immunity booster when included in the food. It is also a storehouse of other essential health properties and pigments like crocetin and safranal, making it a must-have spice at home. Let us take a closer look at some prevalent health benefits of saffron:

  • Powerful antioxidants
    Saffron has several plant compounds that work as antioxidants to guard the cells against free radicals and oxidative stress.
  • Improves mood
    This spice can lift a person’s mood and relieve depressive symptoms, thanks to a compound called safranal. Unsurprisingly, many natural remedies use saffron as an ingredient to cure mild-to-moderate depression.
  • Cancer-fighting properties
    Studies suggest that oxidative stress and chronic inflammation are two common causes of cancer and age-related diseases. Saffron is rich in antioxidants that reduce inflammation and help lower oxidative stress, thus reducing the risk of cancer and tumors. The antioxidants in saffron suppress and target cancer cells and curtail their growth by securing healthy cells.
  • Reduces PMS symptoms
    Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is a series of psychological, emotional, and physical symptoms that manifest before a woman’s menstrual cycle starts. Saffron can provide relief from these signs.
  • Improves libido
    Saffron helps improve libido, due to which it is often recommended to manage erectile function.
  • Prevents overeating
    Saffron leaves a person feeling full for longer with its fiber content. It also curtails unhealthy snacking and reduces appetite.
  • Keeps heart diseases at bay
    The antioxidants in saffron help lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Lycopene, a specific flavonoid in it, provides additional protection to the heart.
  • Lowers blood pressure
    Saffron is also a good potassium source, so regular consumption helps dilate the blood vessels and eliminates blockage in the arteries. This, in turn, helps reduce blood pressure.

Side effects
Saffron is commonly used for coloring foods and enhancing their taste. But eating it in larger quantities can have several adverse effects, such as:

  • Problems during pregnancy
    Women who add too much of this spice to their meals during pregnancy may face several problems. For instance, saffron can cause the uterus to contract, resulting in miscarriage.
  • Allergies
    People allergic to Salsola, Olea, and Lolium plants may also react to saffron and experience various symptoms. Doses of five grams or more can result in poisoning, and eating between 12 to 20 grams may even lead to death.
  • Vomiting, nausea, drowsiness, and stomach issues
    Saffron is typically safe if taken in dosages up to 100 mg daily for up to 26 weeks. Exceeding this limit can cause potential side effects like vomiting, nausea, drowsiness, and stomach issues.
  • Worsening of bipolar disorder
    Saffron can influence one’s mood. It can trigger impulsive behavior and excitability in people with bipolar disorder. So, individuals should avoid using saffron if they have this condition.
  • Slowing of the central nervous system
    Saffron can slow the central nervous system and have various other effects on the human body. So, as a precaution, one must avoid the spice for at least two weeks before surgery.

How to use saffron in meals?
Here are a few things to consider when using the spice:

  • To use saffron in meals, add only a few strands to a hot cup of water and then add the water and soaked saffron to a dish when it is almost ready. Warm water extracts maximum flavor from the saffron.
  • Saffron is also available in powdered form. Although one may find powered saffron easily, it should be used in tiny amounts.
  • As a precaution, individuals should read the instructions on the label and consult a doctor before adding saffron to meals if they suffer from allergies or other conditions.