A spice known for its versatility, saffron benefits have been extensively studied for thousands of years. This golden spice has been referenced considerably in ancient texts for its many uses—from dying clothes to flavoring food to supporting health goals. In fact, its uses are so widespread that saffron is commonly known as the most expensive spice in the world by weight!
But what makes it so versatile, and what are the major benefits of saffron? Today I’m answering some common questions about this incredible spice, including:
- What is saffron?
- What does saffron do to your body?
- What are the top benefits of saffron?
So, let’s dive in and discuss this versatile spice and how to know if you could benefit from including it into your health regimen.
What Is Saffron?
Saffron comes from the Crocus genus flower, which belongs to the iris family. The spice itself comes from the stigma of the plant, or the tiny center tip (pistol) of a flower’s blossom.
So, why is saffron so expensive? Interestingly, the high price of saffron is due to the high volume of blossoms needed to get even a small amount. In fact, it takes an astounding 75,000 blossoms to harvest just one pound of saffron!
Saffron has a bright yellow-orange color and strong flavor, making it useful for both dying garments, tapestries, and even hair, as well as flavoring food. And while these historical uses may not be as common today, this golden spice is still commonly used today—primarily due to the many ways saffron benefits our health.
The Wide-Ranging Health Benefits of Saffron
Documents dating back more than a thousand years mention the healing properties of saffron. A staple of Ayurveda and folk medicine, saffron has been used for centuries to support many areas of health, including vision, mood, sleep, and more.
Here are some of the most researched saffron health benefits.
1. Fights cravings and supports satiety
If you’ve ever tried losing weight or improving your diet, you know that food cravings can strike at any moment—and it can be hard to stay on track. One of the most well-studied ways saffron benefits your health is by fighting food cravings and supporting satiety.
According to research, saffron has been found to reduce overall daily calorie consumption due to its appetite reduction effects. As a result, the spice may also help reduce the amount of snacking you do throughout the day.
Personally, I’ve found saffron to be very useful when transitioning to a keto diet, as food cravings can be quite prevalent in those early days.
Additionally, because we tend to snack on unhealthy, inflammatory foods when we’re dieting and even during times of stress, saffron benefits your efforts by helping to counteract this tendency.
But one word of warning here: In order to tap into these benefits of saffron, make sure to choose a high-quality saffron supplement featuring the version of saffron shown to promote hunger control and reduce cravings (see more on this in the “Taking a Saffron Supplement” section below).
2. Promotes balanced mood
If you’re looking for a natural mood boost, saffron may be able to help. Several studies have shown that saffron benefits your mental health by supporting balanced moods. Researchers think this may be due to the antioxidant and inflammation-cooling effects of saffron.
Saffron has also been shown to have the potential to support serotonin production, which is important because serotonin is a major neurotransmitter known to support everything from balanced moods to cognition, memory, and even your ability to learn.
3. Supports eye health
Saffron benefits also extend to supporting eye health and the restoration of lost eye function due to certain age-related factors. Researchers believe this is due to the high concentration of antioxidant-rich carotenoids found in the spice, with studies showing visual improvements in as few as three months after starting saffron supplementation.
Perhaps equally as exciting is that study participants also noted increased quality of life stemming from the visual changes with no noted adverse effects. Meanwhile, other studies have revealed that daily saffron supplementation may support retinal function as well.
4. Helps improve sleep quality
Did you know that saffron benefits sleep as well? In fact, it was commonly used as a sedative centuries ago. And modern research continues to support this use.
So, what’s the saffron and sleep connection? Some studies have shown that taking saffron at night for anywhere from four to six weeks helped participants fall asleep more easily and improved sleep quality with no adverse effects! Additionally, study participants also slept longer when taking saffron daily.
5. Helps manage PMS symptoms
Saffron has been used to support women’s health for centuries, with Egyptian women often using it to help soothe menstrual cramping. Today, saffron benefits for females are well known and supported by research, leading many women to use saffron for a variety of reasons.
Specifically, saffron benefits women who are looking to reduce the severity of symptoms due to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), especially when taken daily. In fact, according to one study, 75 percent of the participants reported a 50-percent or greater reduction in PMS symptoms. Researchers believe saffron’s impact on serotonin could explain this result.
How to Use Saffron
There are a few culinary ways to use saffron. But before we dive into how to use saffron, let’s answer one question: What does saffron taste like?
Saffron has a sweet and floral taste that also contains elements of earthy tones, making it a pretty versatile spice that works in everything from soups and stews to risottos and even teas!
While it is a spice, saffron is sold in threads versus in powder form, so if you’re looking to use it as a powder, you’ll have to grind saffron threads yourself with a mortar and pestle.
Alternatively, you can make saffron tea by steeping the threads in water. This is actually a very common way to take advantage of the health benefits of saffron.
Finally, you can add the saffron threads directly to a soup or stew, but you may want to toast the saffron first, which aids its ability to break down through the cooking process. You can also add saffron to rice or risotto to add a rich flavor as well as enhance the dish with its golden color.
Taking a Saffron Supplement
Of course, the easiest way to get saffron into your diet and take advantage of its benefits is by taking a high-quality saffron supplement.
Here’s why: When considering how to increase your daily saffron intake, you don’t always have to go for exotic, complicated dishes. Sure, a nice bouillabaisse or Moroccan chicken dinner is delicious but not very practical for everyday dining.
Plus, it can be difficult to get the exact amount and version of saffron you need to help control hunger through diet alone. That’s why I recommend taking advantage of saffron benefits by adding a quality supplement containing a research-based dose to your daily health regimen, such as OMI WellBehauty Hunger Control with Saffron, which features the only version of saffron shown in clinical studies to promote hunger control and reduced snacking and cravings.
The takeaway here? Not all saffron is created equally, so be sure to make sure the version and amount of saffron you’re taking aligns with your health goals.
- Saffron is a bright yellow-orange spice from the Crocus genus flower and has been used for thousands of years for its beneficial antioxidant and inflammation-cooling properties.
- Interestingly, saffron is considered to be the world’s most expensive spice because it takes an astounding 75,000 blossoms to harvest just one pound.
- A versatile spice, saffron benefits include everything from promoting balanced mood to aiding quality sleep, though the most researched benefit is its ability to reduce hunger and cravings.
- It can be difficult to consume enough saffron to support satiety through diet alone, so taking a high-quality saffron supplement such as OMI WellBeauty Hunger Control with Saffron is recommended for optimal effectiveness.