Saffron The World’s Most Expensive Spice In The World
Saffron is a spice derived from the flower of Crocus sativus, commonly known as the “saffron crocus”. The vivid crimson stigmas and styles, called threads, are collected and dried to be used mainly as a seasoning and colouring agent in food. Long among the world’s most costly spices by weight, was probably first cultivated in or near Greece.
It is a small, bulbous, perennial spice, a member of the lily family. To produce, the stigmas [the part of the flower which catches pollen] must be painstakingly handpicked, cut from the white style and then carefully laid on a sieve and cured over heat to deepen the flavor.
Spain is the largest importer of the spice.
It contains a dark orange, water soluble carotene called crocin. Crocin has been found to trigger apoptosis in a number of different types of human cancer cells, leukemia, ovarian carcinoma, colon adenocarcinoma, and soft tissue sarcoma. The spice inhibit cells that have become cancerous, but it has no such effect on normal cells and actually stimulates their formation and that of lymphocytes
The spice had also played a major role in treating skin cancer. It is rich in carotenoids, which can contribute to its anticancer properties.
30 mg of saffron a day showed improvement in the condition of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Treatment with it’s extract had also lessened certain neurotoxic effects. Similar extracts had even increased the production of important neurotransmitters like dopamine and glutamate. The spice had shown to improve memory as well.
Natural compounds in saffron can help prevent vision loss and retinal degeneration. Safranal, one of the compounds in the spice, was found to preserve photoreceptor morphology (the mechanism in the eyes that helps study the forms of things you see), visual response, and capillary network.
It affects the genes that regulate the fatty acid content of the cell membrane – and this makes vision cells more resilient. The study indicates it’s potential in treating retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease that causes permanent blindness in young people.
It is a wonderful treatment for colds and coughs, stomach issues, uterine bleeding, insomnia, flatulence, and even heart trouble. Saffron is extremely rich in manganese, which helps regulate blood sugar and aids the formation of bones, tissues, and sex hormones. It also contains vitamin C that fights infections and aids iron absorption.
More interestingly, it contains over 150 volatile compounds. Most of it’s healthful qualities can be attributed to crocin, a compound present in it.
Even it’s milk has great things to offer. This spice, when combined with milk, can improve digestion and appetite, keep your skin healthy, and even enhance your immunity. Drinking it every day, especially before going to bed, can promote sound sleep. Saffron oil can make your skin glow – and even saffron water has amazing properties.
- For a wonderful marinade for fish, add saffron threads, garlic and thyme to vinegar.
- Use it to give cakes, pastries and cookies a buttery golden hue and a rich aroma.
- Cook biryani’s with saffron combined with cloves, cinnamon, Indian bay leaves and nutmeg for a memorable treat.
- Crush a tiny piece of saffron into a glass of champagne or sparkling apple cider and turn the drink into a golden elixir.
- Coffee spiced with saffron and cardamom is a soothing and heart healthy drink.
- Add saffron and cinnamon to whole milk or yogurt and honey for a simple version of the famous Indian yogurt drink, lassi.