Buying Saffron: Is Saffron Good for You?

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The short answer is yes. 

Often referred to as the ‘golden spice,’ saffron originated in Greece and was well-known for its medicinal properties. Modern scientific studies also suggest that the carotenoid compounds found in saffron could help alleviate heart disease, depression, insulin resistance, insomnia, anxiety, and premenstrual syndrome. It can also inhibit the growth of tumors and improve vision.

If you’re still on the fence about buying saffron, here are six reasons why you should.

Benefit # 1 – It is a Powerful Antioxidant

Saffron contains several plant compounds that are known for their antioxidant properties. This means that, through these compounds, saffron can help the body fight the effects of oxidative stress and free radicals.

Scientists found the following compounds responsible for saffron’s antioxidant abilities:

  •         Crocin and crocetin

These two compounds give raw saffron its red color. They are said to be beneficial to brain health and to have anti-inflammatory properties. Crocin and crocetin are also believed to aid in suppressing appetite and losing weight.

 

  •         Kaempferol

Scientists believe that kaempferol can help protect against cancer. Kaempferol also can help reduce inflammation and prevent depression.

 

  •         Safranal

Safranal is thought to enhance cognitive and memory skills. It is also believed to be a mood-enhancer and prevents damage to the brain from oxidative stress.

Benefit #2 – It Improves Mood

Too much stress could severely deplete the body’s energy levels, negatively affecting one’s mood and leading to anxiety, insomnia, and depression.

According to a study published in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science, saffron supplements can potentially increase dopamine levels in the brain. However, unlike most supplements, saffron has no side effects on other biochemicals like serotonin. It is also said to increase the levels of glutamate, which enhances cognitive capabilities and aids in recovery from injuries involving the central nervous system.

Benefit # 3 – It Reduces Stress and Blood Pressure

Did you know that smelling the scent of saffron flowers alone can help reduce stress? Scientists believe that inhaling the fragrance of saffron crocus can help in reducing cortisol levels in the bloodstream.

Cortisol is the body’s primary stress hormone. The brain secretes these hormones in response to stress, which triggers a flight-or-fight response that helps ensure your survival until the stressors are gone. Too much stress can overload the body and damage several organs, including the heart.

Taking saffron supplements reduces cortisol levels and induces a protective action for the heart. Scientists undertook a study with rats, which received saffron extracts and isoproterenol supplements for 21 days. After the treatment period, they observed low blood pressure readings from the animals in the sample group. The authors of the study believe that both safranal and crocin directly contributed to these results.

Benefit #4 – It Helps Promote Weight Loss

Another study published in 2010 observed positive effects on both appetite suppression and weight loss from taking saffron extracts. The authors divided women into two groups and gave one group 176.5 milligrams per day of the saffron supplement Satiereal. This group also had their food intake limited. The other group received an inactive placebo and was given free rein over their food consumption.

According to the authors, the group that undertook the saffron supplement regimen reported a reduced urge to snack in between meals. Combined with their restricted diet, the supplement had helped members of the group lose weight after the 8-week study.

 

Benefit #5 – It Can Help Treatment Alzheimer’s Disease

Saffron extracts have shown promise in treating symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease. Experts have observed that these two spices’ effects are nearly equivalent to that of the drug Donepezil, the common pharmaceutical product used to treat AD. Both are also ideal alternatives because they are natural and have fewer side effects.

Studies show that saffron extracts can prevent the accumulation of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain. Beta-amyloid plaques can destroy the neurons in the parts of the brain that they overwhelm. These plaques grow over time, leading to progressive brain damage in all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s.

Benefit #6 – It Could Help Control Diabetes

Aside from its hypotensive effects, saffron also has the potential to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. A study by scientists in India has shown that diabetic rats were given four weeks of saffron treatment both lost weight and had reduced blood glucose levels at the end of the research.

When subjected to the Morris water maze, the researchers also observed higher cognitive function in the saffron-treated diabetic rats. Before saffron treatment, the rats with induced diabetes experienced a reduced ability to navigate the maze than the non-diabetic rodents. Introducing saffron supplements after the third day of testing dramatically improved the performance of diabetic animals.

Furthermore, human testing proved that saffron extracts could lower the fasting blood sugar levels in people with Type 2 diabetes. The reduction came about after eight weeks of consistent saffron supplement intake.

In Summary

Saffron supplements are an investment given the scarcity of the spice and the labor-extensive methods of extracting the stigma from the flower. However, saffron supplements offer myriad benefits in return for the money you’ve spent on these products.

For instance, the four plant compounds in saffron – crocin, crocetin, kaempferol, and safranal – all have powerful antioxidant properties. These properties mean numerous health benefits, as these molecules can neutralize the effects of oxidative stress. They can also prevent the development of cancerous cells.

These compounds also show promise in mood enhancement, stress reduction, and lowering blood pressure. Aside from these, scientists have also noted the potential of saffron supplements in regulating diabetes as well as promoting healthy weight loss and suppressing the urge to overeat.

These positive effects do more than justify your purchase of any saffron product. Everyone should know about the wonderful impact of taking saffron supplements on the body. Saffron supplements come from natural sources and have minimal side effects.

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