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The use of saffron (spice) in cooking and medicine dates back to ancient times. Sumerians and Greeks appreciated not only the taste of saffron, but also its healing properties and used it in, among others, treat colds, scarlet fever, and also as an aphrodisiac. The research of modern scientists shows that this most expensive spice in the world can alleviate symptoms of depression and peptic ulcer disease. Check what other properties saffron has and try the recipe for a dish with this spice.

Saffronisspice , which isused in the kitchen , and also in medicine for at least 5,000 years. It was the Sumerians and the ancient Greeks (saffron probably comes from Crete) who began to receive it from the dried stigmas of the flower pistil of the cultivated saffron (Latin: Crocus sativus). It takes as much as 150 thousand. nevus of these flowers to get 1 kg of spice. In addition, saffron is harvested and processed by hand, which is extremely labor-intensive. For these reasons, saffron is the most expensive spice in the world.

Use of saffron in the kitchen

Saffron has an intense flavor that is described as spicy, bitter, slightly spicy and musky. To bring out its depth, before using saffron, it is recommended to soak it in a little cold water (it can also be milk or soup) and add it to the dish at the end of cooking. Just two marks (threads) are enough to give the dish an intense aroma and color it. Saffron should be used in small amounts as higher doses make the food bitter. In addition, when used in very large amounts (about 20 g), it can be life threatening.

Saffron goes well with rice dishes.

In Arab cuisine, saffron is added to rice, coffee, bread, and in Spanish - to paella (rice dishes, pieces of chicken, pepper and various additives) or fabada (it is a thick bean "soup", cooked on various types of meat). In Poland, saffron has been used in fish and tripe dishes for many years. It can also be used to season desserts (e.g. Polish Easter cake or Swedish Lussekatter, i.e. saffron rolls). It goes well with puddings, Italian panna cotta and ice cream.

Saffron can also be added to vegetables, mainly fennel,asparagus and tomatoes, seafood (mainly clams), fish soups (such as Bouillabaisse). It is also added to liqueurs, giving them a unique flavor.

Worth knowing

Nutritional value of saffron (in 100 g / in 1 teaspoon, i.e. 2.1 g)Energy value - 310/7 kcal Total protein - 11.43 / 0.24 g Fat - 5.85 / 0.12 g Carbohydrates - 65.37 / 1.37 g Fiber - 3.9 / 0.1 gVitaminsVitamin C - 80.8 / 1.7 mg Thiamine - 0.115 / 0.002 mg Riboflavin - 0.267 / 0.006 mg Niacin - 1.460 / 0.031 mg Vitamin B6 - 1.010 / 0.021 mg Folic acid - 93/2 µg Vitamin A - 530/11 IUMinerals

Calcium - 111/2 mg Iron - 11.10 / 0.23 mg Magnesium - 264/6 mg Phosphorus - 252/5 mg Potassium - 1724/36 mg Sodium - 148/3 mg Zinc - 1.09 / 0.02 mg

Fatty acids

Saturated - 1.586 / 0.033 g Monounsaturated - 0.429 / 0.009 g Polyunsaturated - 2.067 / 0.043 g

Data Source: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference

Recipe for homemade broth with saffron


He alth benefits of saffron - use in medicine

In the Chinese textbook of Bencao Gangmu from the end of the 16th century, the uses of saffron (the Chinese name Fan-Hong-Hua) mention its beneficial effects in improving blood circulation, stopping bleeding and having a calming effect .² Tibetan medicine used the tonic effect of saffron in diseases heart and nervous system.

The flowers of saffron have a yellow neck with 3 shiny-orange nevi sprouting from which this exotic spice is obtained.

In folk medicine, saffron also served as an antispasmodic, analgesic, expectorant and stimulant, therefore it was used in the treatment of, among others, colds, scarlet fever, chicken pox, asthma. Saffron was also used to regulate menstruation and also as an aphrodisiac. In the past, men with sexual dysfunctions eagerly reached for this natural remedy for potency. In total, in the recommendations of traditional medicine, you can find several dozen other medicinal uses of saffron.

Modern scientists have found that saffron contains numerous medicinal substances such as crocin (responsible for the yellow-orange color of saffron), bitterness picrocrocin (gives the spice its characteristic flavor) and safranal (which is produced when saffron is dried and is responsible for its smell) ).krocynabecame a particular subject of interest for scientists. Thanks to its properties, the potential use of saffron in diseases such as depression, infertility and stomach ulcers is currently being considered.

Saffron for depression

In traditional Iranian medicine, saffron was considered an effective remedy for melancholy. Modern researchers have set out to test whether saffron can help people who are deeply depressed and apathetic. The first human research into the antidepressant properties of saffron was conducted in 2002-2004 at the Roozbeh Psychiatric Center in Tehran.

Compounds contained in saffron increase the level of serotonin and dopamine in the central nervous system - hence the improvement of the mood.

It was attended by patients aged 18-55 with mild or moderate depression. They were given capsules containing saffron standardized hydroalcoholic extract (a 30 mg dose contained approximately 0.6-0.7 mg of safranal). Three studies compared the effects of saffron (30 mg / day) with placebo and the antidepressants imipramine and fluoxetine. It turned out that in the group treated with saffron, the reduction in the severity of depressive symptoms was similar to that in the group treated with imipramine (100 mg / day). Moreover, saffron was less likely to cause side effects than imipramine, such as dry mouth and drowsiness. The study with fluoxetine (used at a dose of 20 mg / day for 6 weeks) also showed similar improvements in both treatment groups. A study in which saffron was compared to a placebo showed a statistically significant difference between the active treatment and the control group .²

Subsequent studies on saffron confirmed its antidepressant properties, and scientists concluded that preparations containing saffron can be used in mild episodes of depression.

Worth knowing

Szafran - where to buy, what is the price?

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Good-quality saffron can cost up to 40,000. PLN per kg. Therefore, it is sold not in grams but in tenths of a gram. In general, 1 bag contains about 0.3 g and costs about PLN 12. It is worth knowing that due to its high price, saffron is often adulterated. The package of saffron may contain other similar spices - saflor (safflower) or ground turmeric.

Saffron is also available in the form of dietary supplements, recommended to improve your mood, restore strength and energy.

Saffron for infertility

Saffron may also be helpful in treating male infertility. This is confirmed by a study conducted on a group of 52 non-smoking and infertile men for whom there was no need for surgical treatment. During the three-month experiment, men were given 50 mg of saffron extract dissolved in milk. Finally, an increase in the number was observedmorphologically normal sperm with 26.5 percent. up to 33.9 percent and an increase in their mobility.

How does saffron improve semen quality? Research has shown that over 40 percent. infertile men experience an increased level of sperm damage caused by free radicals, the so-called Oxidative stress. According to scientists, saffron has antioxidant properties and may help prevent this damage, increasing the chance of fertilization.

Available data indicate that saffron is well tolerated, side effects are usually mild in intensity.

Saffron for ulcers

Saffron may be a natural cure for stomach ulcers, which has been shown in animal studies. Rats were given saffron extract, and 30 minutes later, indomethacin as an ulcerative agent. Due to the antioxidant properties of the active ingredients found in saffron, a reduction in the severity of oxidative stress and inflammation was observed. These results were comparable to those of the anti-ulcer drug omeprazole.

Saffron May Alleviate PMS Symptoms

Saffron may relieve PMS symptoms. The researchers came to this conclusion after examining a group of 50 women aged 20-45 years with PMS symptoms (according to the criteria of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) for at least 6 months. Saffron in the dose of 30 mg / day (twice a day for 15 mg) or placebo were used for two monthly cycles. It turned out that saffron reduced the severity of symptoms in 76 percent. women taking saffron. The response in the placebo group was only 8 percent. There was also a reduction in symptoms on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. According to the authors of this study, its results support the effectiveness of saffron against PMS symptoms, although others argue that more extensive research is needed to confirm this.

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