Saffron, often called as ‘Kesar’ in Hindi is a popular spice and an expensive one too. Its taste makes it great for usage in food, as refreshment and even for making beverages. Saffron’s unique colour, flavour and other properties give it culinary and medicinal characteristics that make it renowned all over the world.
It belongs to the Iradaceae family and is a native of the South Europe regions. These regions originally cultivated and used saffron on a daily basis. The other regional names of saffron include ‘Kumkum Puvvu‘ in Telugu, ‘Kumkuma poo‘ in Tamil, ‘Kunkumapoov‘ in Malayalam, ‘Kesari‘ in Kannada, ‘Kesar‘ in Punjabi, ‘Keshar‘ in Marathi and ‘Jaffran‘ in Bengali
Health Benefits of Saffron:
Saffron is mostly known for its inclusion in food items. But it has very significant nutrients and chemical compounds which are beneficial in providing medicinal benefits. Let us look at a few of the saffron uses below:
1. Disease prevention:
One of the main saffron benefits when used in cooking food is that it contains many plant derived chemical components which are known to prevent diseases. They are also known to promote overall well-being of the body.
2. Volatile oils:
The plant part from which saffron is obtained contains essential but volatile oils which when added to food, imparts its unique flavour and benefits of saffron as a spice. Some of these oils are cineole, pinene, borneol, geraniol etc.
3. Active components:
Apart from the volatile oils, there are also non-volatile active components like carotenoid compound that are anti-oxidants beneficial to the body. These prevent free radical reactions which produce harmful by-compounds and diseases. Some of the carotenoids like zea-xanthin, lycopene, alpha and beta carotene are widely appreciated. This is also one of the main uses of saffron.
4. Therapeutic applications:
In many religions, saffron is not just considered a spice. It is used in various types of therapies like body healing, detoxification and also in the spas.
5. Anti depressant:
The active components in the saffron make our body lose its depressing characteristics making it a dietary necessity sometimes.
6. Digestive properties:
Saffron is also a digestive and an anti convulsant.
7. Cell formation and repair:
Potassium, found in saffron, is a necessary source that favours cell formation and repair.
8. Heart diseases, blood pressure:
Potassium also helps maintains the blood pressure and keeps heart diseases at bay.
9. Blood cell production:
Iron is a very useful component in the body as the blood requires it to form haemoglobin and it is a co-factor in the red blood cell production too.
10. Optimum health:
The overall mineral content including calcium, vitamins, proteins etc present in Saffron ensure the maintenance of optimum health.
Saffron: Skin Benefits
Apart from imparting its exotic flavor and aroma to several recipes, saffron possesses beauty benefits as well. It has natural skin lightening qualities. Saffron can be beneficial for your skin in the following ways:
11. Saffron for radiant Skin:
To get radiant and smooth skin, prepare the following face pack
- Mix 1 teaspoon of sandalwood powder, 2 to 3 strands of saffron and 2 spoons of milk.
- Wash your face and wipe with a cloth before applying this face mask
- Apply it while your face is still wet.
- Massage your skin thoroughly in a circular motion.
- Allow it to dry for 20 minutes and rinse off.
- This mask should be applied once a week for maximum results.
12. Saffron for Fairer Skin:
To get naturally fair skin
- Soak a few strands of saffron in milk for 2 hours.
- Smear this milk all over your face and neck.
- Wash off after few minutes.
- Using this regularly will make your skin naturally fair.
Here’s another mix that you can prepare to get naturally fair skin:
- Soak sunflower seeds (chironji) and saffron in milk and keep them overnight.
- Grind this mixture in the morning
- Apply it on your face to get fair and glowing skin.
Adding a few strands of saffron to your glass of milk can also give you a glowing complexion. Expectant mothers are often given milk and saffron so that the fetus in the womb gets a fair and glowing complexion. There is, however, no medical theory behind this.
13. Treatment of Acne and Blemishes:
The antifungal content of saffron makes it effective for the treatment of acne, blemishes and blackheads.
- Mix 5-6 basil leaves with 10-12 strands of saffron to make a fine paste.
- Apply this on your face
- Wash off with cold water after 10 to 15 minutes.
- This will help to remove acne and pimples.
Basil leaves can clean the bacteria that cause acne and pimples. Apply saffron soaked milk on your face twice a day to help in clearing blemishes.