The benefits of 'Red Gold'

11 Oct 2021 03:18
Published by: Scott Callan

SAFFRON is a spice derived from the stigmas of the pretty flower Crocus sativus. When the flowers bloom in October, yielding two or three fragile stigmas, they must be gently hand-harvested.

It is native to Southwest Asia and widely cultivated in Iran, where it has been given the name 'Red Gold'.

This distinctly coloured vibrant red spice, with a bitter taste, is a sought-after ingredient and often described as the most expensive spice in the world.

Cultivation and use of saffron spans over more than 3,500 years, and it has application in cooking, preservatives and dyes, but also a long medicinal history.

Historical texts suggest Cleopatra, used saffron in her baths for its cosmetic properties. Egyptian healers used this spice for treating gastrointestinal ailments, and the Romans used it as a deodoriser.

It has also been mentioned in the writings of Hippocrates and Galen as a medical treatment for coughs, colds, insomnia, uterine bleeding, scarlet fever, heart trouble, and flatulence.

This unique herbal plant also has a long history of use for improving mood and mental health, during depression and premenstrual syndrome. It may also be of benefit to sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as the darker winter months approach, offering relief from symptoms of low mood and anxiety.

There are three main bioactive compounds in saffron: safranal - a major component responsible for its unique aroma picrocrocin - responsible for saffron's bitter taste and crocin - the coloured compound.

It is also an excellent source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium and rich in many vital vitamins, including vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, and vitamin C.

It also contains a number of important antioxidant compounds, such as zeaxanthin, which is beneficial to the eyes, and lycopene, which is known to protect the prostate gland.

One of the best-known qualities of saffron is its uplifting and antidepressant activity.

Clinical trails have also demonstrated that saffron is a safe and effective solution for treating symptoms of premenstrual syndrome in women aged between 20 - 45 years.

And studies have shown potential benefit in the treatment of age related macular degeneration and in delaying mental decline in early the stages of Alzheimer’s. Although the Alzheimer’s research is promising, further research is warranted.

So, there is a lot more to this vibrant ancient spice than meets the eye. Maybe saffron does live p to the title of the most valuable spice in the world!

If adding this striking red spice to your meals is not a favoured option for you, then the great news is that Saffron can now be obtained as a 'one a day' capsule.

  • The information contained within this article is solely for educational purposes and should not replace the advice of your GP or healthcare professional. Always consult your health care specialist if taking prescribed medication or undergoing any forms of medica treatment. For more information, please contact Bare Health, Congleton on 01260 408413.

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