Let’s talk about the history and benefits of saffron, the "golden spice." It's difficult to think of another spice in the history of humankind that has ever been so incredibly captivating and valuable. It's been winning hearts and palates across the globe for thousands of years. In this article, we’ll discuss saffron’s history, benefits and explore answers to these other questions:
- What is the history of saffron?
- Why is saffron so valuable?
- What are the benefits of the antioxidants in saffron?
- How does saffron support mental health?
The name saffron derives from the Arabic za'faran, meaning “yellow.”
Ancient Beginnings and Early Utilization
The Sumerians, circa 2100-2500 BCE, were the trendsetters, using saffron not just to spice up their stew but also as the ultimate fashion dye, producing a deep orange-red hue. The Sumerians also used it as a remedy and in potions believed to have magical powers. For example, the perfumer of king Gilgamesh made a salve to the king against his aching legs (around 2600 BC.). Egyptians also used it for different gastrointestinal ailments, and to heal wounds.
Saffron Across Asia and Europe
During the 11th or 12th century AD, saffron became widely used in the Indian subcontinent, making appearances in both Ayurvedic medicine and in Indian cuisine. Both Chinese and Indians soaked saffron stigmas in water to yield a golden-yellow solution that was used as a fabric dye.
During the Renaissance, because of its high price and popularity, many Spanish farmers began cultivating Crocus sativus, the flower that produces saffron.
Saffron in Contemporary Times
Today, saffron remains the most expensive spice in the world, with Iran, India, Spain, and a few other countries specializing in production. It's the diva of global cuisine, gracing everything from Indian and Persian dishes to Mediterranean creations. It is also frequently used in wellness remedies, for everything from mental health, to cardiovascular health, to anti-inflammation.
The Rarity and Value of Saffron
Currently, saffron is valued at $1,000 per pound. Saffron is rare because each flower produces just three stigmas, and oh boy, they must be hand-picked. Can you imagine the drama? It takes a village of flowers to yield a mere pound of saffron. That's why it's practically worth its weight in gold.
Saffron Is An Antioxidant Powerhouse
Crocin and Crocetin: Picture these compounds as the rockstars behind saffron's red carpet look—that vibrant, eye-catching red hue? All thanks to these carotenoid champs. They're not just a pretty face; they bring strong antioxidant vibes to the party, fighting off free radicals and giving oxidative stress a run for its money.
Safranal: Breathe deep—safranal is what gives saffron its unmistakable scent. It also doubles as an antioxidant superhero, adding to saffron's arsenal of health benefits.
Kaempferol Derivatives: Saffron comes with its own squad of kaempferol derivatives, boosting its antioxidant game and making it a force to be reckoned with. Kaempferol is a polyphenol antioxidant found in fruits and vegetables. Many studies have described the beneficial effects of dietary kaempferol in reducing the risk of chronic diseases, especially cancer.
What Saffron’s Antioxidants Can Do for You
Combats Oxidative Stress
Saffron's antioxidants are the fearless warriors against oxidative stress. Those pesky free radicals don't stand a chance when saffron’s antioxidants swoop in, neutralizing them and reducing the risk of aging, chronic diseases, and cellular havoc.
Guards Cells and DNA
Saffron's antioxidants play the role of bodyguards for our cells and DNA. They shield them from the evil clutches of free radicals, preventing mutations and keeping our cells in tiptop shape.
Boosts the Immune System
Consider saffron's antioxidants the personal trainers of your immune system. They whip it into shape, making it a powerhouse defense mechanism. A robust immune system means fewer sick days and more time feeling fabulous.
It’s not all about fighting, as saffron’s antioxidants also like peacekeepers, calming down inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation? Not on saffron's watch. Managing it is key to the ultimate quest for overall well-being.
How Saffron Supports Mental and Emotional Wellness
There is growing evidence that saffron may help improve mood and be a useful addition to treatment for depression. A study in the Journal of Behavioral and Brain Science found that a saffron extract increased dopamine levels in the brain without changing the levels of other brain hormones, such as serotonin.
Research from 2015 suggests that compounds in saffron, such as crocin, appear to reduce inflammation and oxidative damage in the brain, which may lead to beneficial effects.
A study in the journal Antioxidants suggests that saffron might also help with Alzheimer’s due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
You Can Enjoy Saffron Every Day
Rbel Bee Poma Punch Honey Gummies contain real saffron, along with pomegranate, honey and Mexican vanilla. Saffron is known to be full of antioxidants, and anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties. It’s known to promote eye and brain health. It has been linked to health benefits, such as improved mood, libido, and sexual function, as well as reduced PMS symptoms and enhanced weight loss.