Depending on your taste preferences, certain spices may be pantry staples for you. Oregano, Timut pepper, cinnamon… But we’re talking about a less common spice that you may not have in stock: saffron! Perhaps you haven’t tried it yet, or maybe you’re aware it’s the most expensive spice in the world. This vibrant spice is more than just a colorful addition to dishes. Two dietitians, Gaby Vaca-Flores and Maya Feller, as reported by Well+Good, share the health benefits of saffron.
Saffron: The Unrecognized Benefits of this Multifaceted Spice
“Saffron is composed of four active ingredients: crocine, crocetin, safranal, and picrocrocin. Crocine, a carotenoid, is responsible for its bright yellow/red color,” explains Feller.
Incorporating this spice into your culinary ventures not only adds a burst of flavor but also introduces a wealth of health benefits, affirming its status as a spice worth exploring. Its several health benefits, largely attributed to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
“One of the main health benefits of saffron is mood support,” says Vaca-Flores. “Specifically, it’s beneficial for improving the mood of people with mild to moderate depression.”
According to a study, adults who took a saffron supplement showed significantly reduced depression symptoms compared to a placebo group. Surprisingly, saffron proved to be as effective as antidepressant medications. Vaca-Flores suggests that saffron can be your ally against unwanted mood swings like irritability, with minimal side effects.
Due to its high antioxidant content, the spice is “associated with a range of health benefits, including cognitive support and protection against oxidative stress,” Vaca-Flores continues. Feller adds that the active compounds in saffron are cardioprotective and neuroprotective. Increasingly, research is demonstrating the benefits of saffron in helping to prevent, and sometimes even treat, various age-related diseases, from macular degeneration and glaucoma to Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
While saffron might not be a staple in every pantry, its unique combination of compounds makes it a spice worth considering for both culinary and health-conscious purposes.