Saffron is one of the most precious spices globally and has a unique and enticing aroma and flavor that Indians love to have in their kitchens. These threadlike red-hued stigmas are known to have been cultivated in Greece first, although the spice is grown in many other countries, including Iran, Morocco, La Mancha (Spain), and Kashmir (India). Some countries like the US are also known to produce Saffron on a small scale.
Saffron, derived from a flower known as Crocus Sativus, looks red but imparts a yellow color. The threads or the stigmas of the flower bloom for a week every year, and these are harvested by hand. It takes about 1000 flowers to produce just an ounce of Saffron, making it an exclusive and one of the most expensive spices. The intense sweet-smelling fragrance and the delicious taste, especially of the Kashmiri Saffron, can flatter any dish it is added to.
The Nutritional Values of Saffron
Saffron contains four major antioxidants: crocin, crocetin, safranal, and kemperanol. Studies suggest that these elements can protect cells against oxidative stress and free radicals present in the body. Every 100 grams of saffron can account for the following nutrients:
- Calcium- 111 mg
- Iron- 11.1mg
- Potassium- 1724mg
- Total Fat- 6g
- Sodium- 148
- Potassium- 1724mg
- Dietary Fibre- 3.9mg
- Protein- 11gm
In addition, Saffron is also rich in Vitamin C- 134%, Vitamin B6- 50%, and Magnesium- 66%.
Saffron and its Health Benefits
Saffron is revered for its medicinal properties too. From boosting your mood to improving memory, there are many Saffron health benefits.
- Saffron is known to be a powerful antioxidant featuring anti-depressant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- The antioxidants present in Saffron can help neutralize free radicals present in bodies, thereby fighting cancer cells.
- Research reveals that saffron can be used to improve memory function.
- Saffron can work as a mood lifter and treat symptoms of depression.
- It can aid in weight loss as it is a natural appetite regulator.
- Saffron can also protect brain cells from progressive damage.
- It may act as an aphrodisiac and boost libido.
- Some studies show that saffron can improve heart health, reduce blood sugar levels, and improve eyesight.
Different Ways to Consume Saffron
Saffron can be used to enhance the taste of both sweet and savory dishes. Saffron milk is known to have a range of benefits for the skin and can be used in combination with sugar to add a rich flavor to the milk. You can boil the milk and add a few saffron threads to it or simply grind them to extract its color and flavor and infuse it with milk.
The vibrant colored spice is strong, and only a few strands are enough to enrich the taste and flavor of your recipe. Saffron is used in multiple cuisines and a plethora of recipes, including classic Paella, Italian Risotto all Milanese, Persian pulao recipes, French bouillabaisse, Saffron rice, its variants, and special desserts. Just make sure to buy Saffron from a reliable store to enjoy its natural flavors and taste.
The Bottom Line
Saffron is expensive, and you should watch out for buying adulterated Saffron with colorants from other plant tissues or with the petals of its flower. Unadulterated Saffron dissolves slowly in the water as compared to adulterated Saffron. Safe to be consumed by all age groups, it can be easily incorporated into your daily diet in the form of different recipes. If you seek authentic stores to purchase pure and aromatic saffron, you can buy Kashmiri Saffron from Pahadi Hub.