There are more than a few amazing things about saffron aside from its unique taste and expensive price tag. Like most other herbs and spices, saffron supports health in a number of ways but what makes it special is the wide range of benefits it provides. We’ve already explored in previous articles how it supports brain function and mood, as well as sexual health, but the upside to saffron doesn’t stop there. Let’s take a look at some of the other ways it protects our health as much as it pleases the palate.
Saffron contains a collection of powerful antioxidants, compounds that protect the body’s cells from free radical damage and oxidative stress. These include crocin, crocetin, safranal, and kaempferol, which have been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. This makes saffron a powerful health protector because inflammation has been identified as a significant factor in all major diseases.
Inflammation is also a factor in age-related diseases, as well as cancer.
Saffron’s antioxidant power, particularly through kaempferol, has been shown to inhibit cancer cell growth and the formation of new blood vessels that feed tumors. Better yet, through a process not fully understood, it triggers cancer cell apoptosis—the release of enzymes within cancer cells that make them self-destruct.
It should be noted that kaempferol is abundantly found in the petals of the crocus flower that gives us saffron.
There is also promising research that shows crocin, the main antioxidant in saffron, kills colon cancer cells, as well as suppresses cancer growth while leaving normal cells unharmed. Similar effects have been documented in many other cancers in the skin, bone marrow, prostate, lung, breast, cervix, and other areas. While inhibiting cancer growth, evidence is also showing crocin may make cancer cells more vulnerable to chemotherapy drugs.
A Weight Off
Research reveals that saffron can help people lose weight by increasing satiety and curbing appetite, which leads to less snacking. Over an eight-week study, women taking saffron supplements felt much fuller, snacked less, and lost significantly more weight than women who took a placebo pill. A similar study found participants taking a saffron extract for eight weeks experienced significantly reduced appetite, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and total fat mass.
As if those benefits weren’t enough, animal studies have shown that saffron helps protect the heart by lowering blood pressure and preventing arteries from clogging. Studies in mice with diabetes revealed that saffron may help lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. For those suffering loss of vision from age-related macular degeneration (AMD), saffron appears to improve eyesight and protect against the free radical damage that causes and worsens the condition.
More so than other spices, the health benefits of saffron are staggering. Although its high cost makes it difficult to consume on a regular basis, do your best to add it to your meals when possible. Like its rich depth of flavor, a little saffron goes a long way. It may well be that the same rule applies for its amazing health benefits, too.
Try THE FULLEST’s Saffron Latte here.
For more health insights from Dr. Sadeghi, please visit beingclarity.com to sign up for the monthly newsletter or check out his annual health and well-being journal, MegaZEN here. For daily messages of encouragement and humor, follow him on Instagram at @drhabibsadeghi.