Health benefits of saffron includes it properties to treat cancer, improve blood circulation, act as anti oxidant and anti inflammatory agent. It finds health benefits for skin, digestive tract, respiratory system and blood circulatory system. It is because of these health benefits of saffron, it finds its use beyond food colouring agent.
Saffron [Scientific name: Crocus sativus] (French: Safran, German: Safron, Spanish: Azfran) is the spice derived from the flower Safron Crocus. The dried stigma of the flower is used as a spice. Saffron is one of the most expensive spice. Saffron has been cultivated in different parts of the world such as in Iran, Spain, India, Greece, Azerbaijan, Morocco and Italy. Saffron has been traditionally used in cooking as a colouring and seasoning agent. It has been traditionally used as a dying agent.
Composition of Saffron: Saffron consists of more than 150 compounds which include Picrocrocin, Crocetin, Zeaxanthin, Lycopene. which provides health benefits to saffron. These four compounds are the main constituents of Saffron. They form carotenoids. It is because of Crocin in Saffron that it offers rich golden yellow colour to food. Safranol is the essential oil obtained from Saffron which gives Saffron its distinct aroma. Some of the health benefits of saffron are given below.
Health Benefits of Saffron:
Anti-Cancer Properties of Saffron: Anti Cancer properties of Saffron can be attributed to Picrocrocin, a chemical compound present in Saffron. Clinical research done around 1996 concluded that Picrocrocin was the more effective compound of Saffron to be used as an anti-cancer therapeutic agent. Some test show that Lycopene present in Saffron is also known for its Anti Prostrate Cancer properties.
Saffron for improving Blood Circulation: Crocetin another chemical compound present in saffron has been found to improve oxygen supply in myocardial areas. Crocetin can increase microcirculation. Thus it helps in the proper functioning of body and good health. A little amount of Saffron is used to provide relief for mild depression.
Anti oxidizing properties of Saffron : Zeaxanthin one of the carotenoid present in Saffron is responsible for filtering and shielding the Retina from the near to UV blue light. Besides this, Zeaxanthin prevents the free radical damage to the Retina and the lens of the eye. Some research shows that minute quantities of saffron along with milk administered twice a day to the patient with Coronary Artery disease decreases lipoprotein oxidation and thus indicates the potential of saffron as an antioxidant.
In India, saffron is used as herb in ayurveda to heal impotency and infertility. Saffron has also been used to treat such common ailments as Coughs and Cold. Some reports suggest use of Saffron to treat Acne, Alcholism and Asthma. Saffron reduces cholesterol level in blood. Crocin a compound present in Saffron improves memory. Saffron is capable of reducing Blood Pressure according to some reports. Saffron has the potential for treating certain forms of Cancer.
Skin care: Saffron has been considered good for skin and has been used in home made treatment for skin care. In India, saffron milk is used to massage skin of infants to make them fair. It is also used in treatment of acne.