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Saffron – the spice you NEED to find out about this winter 

From higher sleep to a lift in libido, the well-known spice saffron has a plethora of health advantages to assist get you thru this season and beyond

For those who’ve ever enjoyed food infused with the delicately floral aroma of saffron, you then’re already aware of this subtly sweet spice. 

Saffron has long been a staple of Middle-Eastern, Mediterranean and Asian cooking. But, did you already know that this fragrant, brightly colored spice also has many health advantages? 

Generally known as the world’s costliest spice, the saffron plant (crocus sativus), which grows mainly in Iran, Spain, France, Italy and India, has been used medicinally for hundreds of years.

The most recent research shows it might help to enhance mood, alleviate depression, lower blood pressure and cholesterol, plus it helps you sleep higher. 

The saffron flower has lilac petals with crimson stigmas, or ‘threads’ (which catch pollen).  These are the parts used to supply the spice. The flowers can only be hand-picked for 3 weeks in the course of the autumn.

saffron is a flexible spice that may help to support your health this winter

The stigmas are then gently extracted and dried within the sun. It takes 1000 flowers to supply 5gm of saffron. Consequently, saffron can be often called ‘red gold’, due its high cost.  

‘In addition to being a culinary delicacy, saffron is a flexible spice that may help to support your health this winter, especially by way of mood, tiredness and overall emotional balance,’ says Rob Hobson, Consultant Nutritionist at Healthspan.

‘Saffron incorporates several bioactive compounds, including crocin and safranal which have antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties.’

Studies suggest that these compounds might help to guard your body from oxidative stress which may result in health problems.   

Health Profit #1 Natural Mood Booster

Saffron is usually called the ‘sunshine spice’, partly on account of its vibrant color, but additionally for its useful effect on mood.

In a recent meta-analysis (Planta Medica, 2019) that checked out nine clinical trials, it was found that taking a 30mg saffron every day complement, for 12 weeks, reduced the severity of mild to moderate depression. 

It was shown to be significantly more practical than a placebo and just nearly as good as antidepressant drugs.

In one other study (Journal of Affective Disorders, 2018) that checked out depression and anxiety, it was found that taking 30mg of saffron every day was as effective the antidepressant medications fluoxetine, imipramin and citalopram.  

Try: Healthspan Saffron, £15.95 for 60 capsules. Also incorporates niacin (B3) and vitamin B6 (to assist reduce fatigue and tiredness which may accompany low mood).

Health Profit #2 Lowers blood pressure

Hypertension this may raise your risk of stroke, heart attack and kidney failure.  So, keeping blood pressure inside healthy levels is very important.

You possibly can do that through exercise, healthy weight-reduction plan, losing a few pounds and reducing stress, but taking saffron supplements may additionally help.

Saffron is anti-inflammatory, it is usually high in antioxidants, including crocin, picrocrocin, crocetin and safranal. These protect the body from oxidative stress which will result in cell damage and disease, including hypertension.    

Saffron is anti-inflammatory, it is usually high in antioxidants

In a recent meta-analysis (Nutrients, 2021), that involved 249 men and ladies, it was shown that saffron supplements may help to scale back hypertension.

Participants (in eight studies), all of whom had hypertension, took between 15 – 1000mg saffron, for 1 to 12 weeks. The review showed that taking every day saffron supplements resulted in a major decrease in systolic blood pressure (-0.65 mmHg) and diastolic blood pressure (1.23 mmHg).

To maintain tabs in your blood pressure – try: Omron Comfort Blood Pressure Monitor with cuff, £60.

Health Profit #3 Enhances Emotional Wellbeing

Are you vulnerable to anxiety, stress and low mood? If that’s the case, taking saffron supplements may help to boost your emotional wellbeing, in line with a brand new study (Frontiers in Nutrition, 2020). 

The study showed that when 56 healthy men and ladies (aged 18 – 54) took 30 mg saffron extract every day, for eight weeks, they reported reduced depression scores and improved social relationships.

These results suggest that saffron extract appears to enhance subclinical depressive symptoms and resilience to emphasize (which will trigger psychiatric disorders) in healthy individuals.  

Try: Viridian Saffron, £20.15 for 30 (30mg) capsules. Formulated using hand-picked saffron from Iran, in a base of alfalfa, spirulina and bilberry with no artificial ingredients.


Health Profit #4 Higher Sleep

For those who suffer from insomnia or other sleep issues, taking saffron may help.  In a single study (Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, 2020) it was shown that when 55 healthy adults (aged 18 – 70) with poor sleep, took saffron supplements of 14mg twice a day, for 28 days, they experienced an improvement in sleep quality.

Many of the changes occurred in the primary seven days and there have been no unwanted effects (which may occur with medication).

In a more moderen meta-anlysis (Sleep Medicine, 2022) it was also shown that saffron supplementation improved sleep quality.

Try: Saffron Tea (before bed), Azafranda Tea, £9.89 for 25 tea bags.  

Health Profit #5 Boosts libido

It’s normal for sexual desire to fluctuate at times. But, what do you do if a lacklustre libido appears to be an ongoing problem? 

Latest research suggests that saffron could also be helpful for sexual dysfunction in each men and ladies.

A recent study (Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, 2022) showed that when a bunch of girls, aged 18 to 55, who were suffering with severe female sexual dysfunction, corresponding to problems with desire, arousal, and orgasm, took 15mg saffron capsules twice every day, for six weeks, they experienced a major increase in desire, lubrication and sexual satisfaction, in comparison with those taking a placebo. 

saffron supplementation has a useful effect on erectile dysfunction

In an earlier meta-analysis (Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, 2019) it was found that saffron had a major positive effect on sexual dysfunction in each men and ladies.

In one other meta-analysis (Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, 2018) it was shown that saffron supplementation has a useful effect on erectile dysfunction and sexual desire in men. 


Health Profit #6 Healthy Cholesterol Levels

Need to keep your levels of cholesterol in check? A brand new review, published inThe Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, 2022, shows that saffron can lower levels of ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol by 39% to 50%, in as little as three weeks.

The review analysed six studies, on animals (rodents) who got 40mg of saffron per kilogram of body weight every day. The outcomes found that saffron extract is almost as effective in reducing levels of cholesterol as standard therapies, corresponding to orlistat and metformin. 

In an earlier meta-analysis that checked out 6 studies, involving 291 adults, results showed a major reduction in total cholesterol and triglyceride levels.

There was also a major increase in levels of ‘good’ HDL cholesterol following supplementation with saffron.   

Try: Boots Pharmaceuticals Cholesterol Home Test Kit, £13.50.

Health Profit #7 Protects your eyesight

The antioxidants in saffron may help to guard your eyesight and help to decelerate the progression of age related macular degeneration (lack of central vision).  These are the findings of a recent study (Italian Journal of Medicine, 2017).

The study split 54 participants (men and ladies) with dry age-related macular degeneration into two groups.  One group took 50g of saffron every day for 3 months. Measurements were taken before and after the trial. 

those that took saffron, experienced a major improvement in vision

Results showed that after three months, those that took saffron, experienced a major improvement in vision (with the ability to distinguish shapes, details and descriptions higher), in comparison with the control group.

This means that the short-term intake of saffron may decelerate the progression of dry ARMD and help improve vision.  

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