How healthy is saffron?
Saffron has been used in Asia for thousands of years as a healing or health-promoting herb. Nutrition expert Beth Czerwony from the Cleveland Clinic in the US explains how saffron affects health and how to use the spice correctly.
Health Benefits of Saffron
According to the expert in a recent press release, a lot of research indicates that saffron can promote health or help with certain health problems. But what exactly are the beneficial effects of saffron?
1. Saffron is rich in antioxidants
Saffron is rich in antioxidants, which can help fight cell damage and prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Additionally, one study has shown beneficial effects on the brain and nervous system.
The antioxidants crocetin, crocin and safranal found in saffron may help improve memory and learning, and even protect against neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease, Czerwony points out.
“The antioxidants in saffron may help protect the brain from damage. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is a good way to increase antioxidant intake and prevent disease. Adding saffron to a healthy diet can increase the absorption of antioxidants.
2. Relief from PMS
The so-called premenstrual syndrome (PMS) can cause a variety of symptoms. These range from pelvic pain to acne. PMS also often affects mental health, causing anxiety, depression, and mood swings.
There is more modest research that has shown that saffron is actually able to reduce PMS-related depression, reports the expert. Saffron can help relieve some of the emotional symptoms of PMS.
3. Saffron promotes weight loss
Many people struggle with weight loss. But saffron can also help here. A study on a group of women showed that taking saffron helped reduce the feeling of hunger and the participants snacked less in between.
“There is evidence that saffron can suppress appetite and help with weight loss. But it doesn’t work alone. Combine saffron with a healthy, balanced diet for success,” says the expert.
4. Treatment of seizures
Saffron is used in traditional Iranian medicine as an anticonvulsant (remedy for seizures). Some studies suggest that saffron may shorten certain types of seizures.
“Saffron may show promise as a treatment for seizures, but we need more data on its safety and effectiveness. If you have a seizure disorder, check with your doctor before taking herbs or supplements like saffron,” advises Czerwony.
5. Saffron to treat erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction refers to the inability to maintain an erection. According to the expert, there are studies that indicate that saffron allows the treatment of erectile dysfunction.
Saffron could represent an herbal treatment supplement. “Studies have shown that 30 milligrams per day is effective, but this amount should not be exceeded. High levels of saffron can be toxic,” warns Czerwony.
6. Saffron against Alzheimer’s
In fact, according to the nutritionist, saffron may be as effective as prescription drugs available in treating mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease.
“A few small studies have shown that saffron extract improves cognitive function in people with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s disease,” Czerwony said. Saffron also has a low risk of side effects.
7. Saffron against depression
Depression is a mental disorder whose treatment involves various types of therapy or medication. A study has shown that saffron can also help reduce symptoms of depression.
“Saffron could be used to treat depression in the future. However, we need larger studies that assess long-term results before saffron can replace proven antidepressants.”
Czerwony warns that under no circumstances should prescription medications be discontinued without first consulting a doctor.
Good use of saffron
Saffron petals look like thin red threads. These threads can be softened in hot water to make saffron tea. However, saffron can also be added to savory dishes to flavor them.
If you don’t like the taste of saffron, swallowing capsules with saffron can help. However, it is important to consult a doctor before you start taking saffron supplements.
Some dietary supplements can cause unwanted side effects. This is especially true for women who are pregnant, taking medication, or have a medical condition.
Saffron is safe in small amounts
“Saffron is generally safe when used in small amounts for cooking or as a tea. It is also high in antioxidants, so we know it has health benefits,” Czerwony said.
If in doubt, however, a doctor should be consulted before including saffron in the diet to ensure that it is safe. (as)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.
Cleveland Clinic: Spicy Saffron Could Benefit Your Health (Published 07/06/2022), Cleveland Clinic
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.