Saffron: The Sunshine Spice

 In Ayurvedic medicine, saffron is known as "the Sunshine Spice," not only for its golden color but also for its mood-boosting qualities.

Although saffron is most famously known as a culinary spice, used to flavor such classic European dishes as paella and bouillabaisse, and is a common ingredient in Middle Eastern and Asian cuisine, it has also been valued medicinally by eastern cultures for millennia.

In Ayurvedic medicine saffron is used as a mood booster and in the treatment of depression and anxiety. Saffron contains over 150 compounds, most notably crocin, crocetin and safranal, all three of which are potent antioxidants. There have been several clinical trials looking at the medicinal benefits of saffron, which have identified the great potential for saffron to help with many conditions.
In addition to being a mood-booster and treatment for depression and anxiety, these include:
    • anti-inflammatory properties
    • reduction in appetite and assisting in weight loss
    • improving mental function
    • relieving the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome
    • protecting brain cells from oxidative stress
    • aiding in erectile dysfunction and acting as an aphrodisiac
    • treating early stages of macular degeneration
    • prevention and treatment of Parkinson's Disease
    • reduction of cholesterol, among other cardiovascular benefits
    • lessening the effects of Alzheimer's Disease
    • the prevention and treatment of various types of cancer
    • improving sleep quality
    • improving skin condition

Only authentic high quality saffron exerts beneficial health effects.

Although saffron supplements are available, there is often no guarantee of the quality of the saffron used, nor that it hasn’t been adulterated. Because of the high value of saffron it is frequently tampered with and cut with other substances (such as turmeric or safflower) to bulk it out.  

For this reason it is vital to purchase your saffron from a trustworthy source. 

If you're looking for ways to simply reap some of the many benefits of consuming saffron, there's no easier way than making 'saffron tea' or 'saffron water.'

Saffron tea 
Saffron tea is a great substitute for coffee, keeping you alert without the caffeine jitters. To make it, simply steep 3 saffron threads per cup in boiling water to make hot tea, or chill it and drink cold. You can experiment with adding other herbs and flavors, such as mint leaves, lemon and honey.

 Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • strands of Peace and Plenty organic saffron
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • couple of mint leaves (optional)
  • lemon wedge (optional) 

 

Instructions
Simply bring water to a boil, then switch off the heat. Add the saffron and the honey to a cup, pour in the hot water, stir and let it sit and infuse for a couple of minutes (the saffron will turn the water bright yellow). Add mint and lemon if you wish. That's it!

Chill saffron tea to make a refreshing summer drink. This recipe for peach and saffron iced tea looks delicious! So does this recipe for saffron milk tea, with rooibos and cardamom.

Saffron Water
Chef Camille Becerra likes to start her day with a glass of saffron water to stay alert. She recommends soaking 10 – 15 smashed saffron threads in one litre of water for 1 to 2 days and drinking 4 oz of the liquid daily. 

Chef Camille Becerra's Savory Water (including a shoutout to yours truly!)

Note: A little it of high quality saffron goes a long way, and in our 1/3 gram vials, there are approximately 154 threads, so if following Chef Becerra's saffron water recipe, that's approximately 15 weeks of keeping your brain sharp!

Golden Milk 
Turmeric golden milk is having a moment and has a host of health benefits; make it even better by adding saffron threads, or nix the turmeric completely and make  this one with almonds and saffron (saffron milk has been said to put a healthy little glow in your cheeks and additionally, if consumed before going to bed, may help you get a full night's sleep).

Adding a little saffron to your favorite recipes.
To do this, add a few saffron strands to a small amount of your warm cooking liquid (white wine, water, broth, cream), thus pulling the flavor and color from the threads, then add the liquid and saffron to the dish at the end of cooking. 

Remember, the rule of thumb with high quality saffron is that a little goes a long way.

Click here to buy our California-grown, organic saffron!







References:
1). https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3957135/
2). https://www.verywellfit.com/health-benefits-of-saffron-extract-89511#citation-3
3). https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/antioxidants-explained
4). http://www.phcogrev.com/sites/default/files/PhcogRev-7-13-61.pdf
5). https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipid_peroxidation
6). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2710.2009.01133.x