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Saffron is a spice from the Crocus sativus flower. The golden colored stigma and styles are the saffron threads. Saffron is one of the most expensive spices in the world.
Saffron is a labour-intensive crop because the stigmas are handpicked from each flower, which are dried and subsequently cured to flavour many Mediterranean and Asian dishes foods.
The strong and exotic aroma gives a distinct flavour and also has a negligible bitterness that gives it a unique flavour, particularly to rice and fish.
Saffron is cultivated predominantly in Iran although it is grown in Spain, France, and Italy and in the northern parts of India. 75,000 blossoms produce 0.45 kilogram of saffron. 0.5 to 1% essential oil is present in saffron, the key component of which is picrocrocin and the colouring matter is crocin.
During various periods, saffron has been worth much more than its weight in gold; moreover it is still the most expensive spice in the world. A golden-colored, water-soluble fabric dye was distilled from saffron stigmas in ancient times in India. Buddhists priests made saffron the official color for their robes after the death of Buddha. The dye has been used for royal garments in several cultures.
The advantage of using saffron is its high levels of specific antioxidants.
The major functional antioxidants include:
kaempferol and crocetin are the other compounds.
These antioxidants help fight against oxidative stress and free radicals in the body. Oxidative stress and free radicals play a role in the development of many health conditions, including cancer and heart disease, antioxidants such as these may help protect a person's health.
Preventing nervous system disorders
The antioxidants in saffron may play a role in protecting the body from disorders affecting the nervous system. A research notes that compounds in saffron, such as crocin, appear to reduce inflammation and oxidative damage in the brain.
Evidence suggests that saffron may help improve mood without changing the levels of other brain hormones, such as serotonin and be a useful addition to treatment for depression.
Reducing PMS symptoms
Premenstrual syndrome symptoms may be reduced on regular usage of saffron.
Promoting weight loss
There is also some evidence to suggest that saffron may help promote weight loss and curb the appetite.
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Side effects and risks
Generally consuming saffron involves modest risk. Cooking with saffron is an excellent technique to add it to the diet devoid of the risk of consuming excess of this spice.
How to use it
An easy approach to perk up a meal with saffron is to soak a handful strands to a bowl of hot water. This extracts most of the flavor from the saffron, which can be added to enhance the taste of a savory dish.
Saffron is also becoming more available as a supplement, generally in the form of powdered stigmas in capsules. It is important to read the instructions on the packaging and speak to a doctor before taking any new supplements.
Saffron is an ancient and expensive herb. It contains some antioxidant compounds, which may help reduce the risk of certain chronic conditions that have an association with oxidative stress.
There is little evidence to suggest that these antioxidants are any more beneficial to the body than the ones that a person can get simply by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables.
Although more research on these effects is necessary, saffron may also help improve the mood, boost sexual function, and reduce PMS symptoms in some people.
Saffron Tea Recipe
Saffron tea is a miraculous amalgamation concoction of health and taste. It’s incredible medicinal benefits make it a perfect dose of health. In fact, the aroma and essence of saffron accentuates the taste of this blend.
Ingredients of Saffron Tea
- 1 liter water
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 lemon wedges
- 1/2 gm saffron
- 8 mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon honey
How to make Saffron Tea
- Step 1: Bring water to a boil. In the meantime, put the tea leaves and saffron in a large teapot. Pour the boiling water over and leave it for a few minutes.
- Step 2: Allow the sugar to blend in nicely. Then strain the liquid and pour into teacups. Add sugar as desired.
- Step 3: Serve warm with a mint sprig and lemon slice.
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