Saffron nutrition facts
Saffron is one of the highly prized spices known since antiquity for its color, flavor and medicinal properties. It is the dried \"stigma\" or threads of the flower of the S. crocus plant. The plant is a bulbous perennial plant that belongs to the family of Iridaceae of the genus, Crocus and known botanically as Crocus sativus.
This exotic spice is a native of Southern Europe and now cultivated worldwide in many countries, particularly in Spain, Italy, France, Greece, Turkey, and Iran and in Jammu & Kashmir state of India.
The Crocus sativus plant grows to about 15-20cm in height and bears lavender colored flowers during each season, which lasts from October until November. Each flower features perianth, which consists of a stalk, known as “style,” connecting to the three “stigmas” or threads to the rest of the plant. These orange-yellow colored stigmas along with the style constitute \"saffron\" which is used as spice.
Health benefits of Saffron
Saffron contains many plants derived chemical compounds that are known to have been anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties.
This colorful spice has many non-volatile active components; the most important of them is a-crocin, a carotenoid compound, which gives the stigmas their characteristic golden-yellow color. It also contains other carotenoids, including zea-xanthin, lycopene, a- and ß-carotenes. These are important antioxidants that help protect the human body from oxidant-induced stress, cancers, infections and acts as immune modulators.
The active components in saffron have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines as antiseptic, antidepressant, anti-oxidant, digestive, anti-convulsant.
This novel spice is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
Additionally, it is also rich in many vital vitamins, including vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health.
The active components present in saffron have many therapeutic applications in many traditional medicines since long time ago as anti-spasmodic, carminative, diaphoretic.
Research studies have shown that, safranal, a volatile oil found in the spice, has antioxidant, cytotoxicity towards cancer cells, anticonvulsant and antidepressant properties.
Alfa-crocin, a carotenoid compound, which gives the spice its characteristic golden-yellow color, has been anti-oxidant, anti-depressant, and anti-cancer properties.