People collect saffron from the styles and stigmas of the saffron crocus flower (Crocus sativus). It serves primarily as a spice and seasoning agent in cooking. It is also used as a coloring agent due to its beautiful yellow-orange color. Saffron also offers several health benefits, making it one of nature’s most effective and expensive herbs.
The saffron crocus is indigenous to the Mediterranean and Western Asia. The main reason saffron has a significant cost is because its production is incredibly labor demanding.
Saffron’s healing effects were acknowledged since historical times. It was used to ease stomach aches, enhance blood circulation and ease difficult breathing or shortness of breath.
Among the multiple health benefits of saffron are: eases breathing in asthma attacks, improves lung and blood oxygenation, relieves whooping cough, croup cough, and shortness of breath. It thins thick mucus in the respiratory system and lungs, which is recommended for cystic fibrosis and respiratory infections. Additionally, it aids in treating depressive disorders, atherosclerosis, learning and memory retention. Saffron’s natural components, carotenoids, and antioxidants, particularly crocin, are responsible for improving arthritis, enhancing vision, and providing many other health benefits. It also helps with insomnia by calming the nervous system, blood circulation and cholesterol issues.
Saffron has a distinct flavor that comes from the chemical compounds picrocrocin, and safranal. Saffron can be used in tea and cooking, especially used with rice. One amazing recipe, even though very elaborated, is the Iranian Jeweled Rice that you can find here. There are many saffron recipes online that you can try and include in your diet. Even used in sweets, such as ice cream – saffron cardamom ice cream.
As Hippocrates says, “Our food should be our medicine and our medicine should be our food” – Indeed, a wise saying and very true!