These 16 Saffron Milk Benefits for Health You Must Know
The most popular spice, which offers everything nice – that’s saffron. But not all us are aware of saffron benefits, which, we tell you, are simply wonderful. And, we have covered all of them in this post!
Just keep reading.
Saffron, or widely known as ‘Kesar‘, is one of the most expensive spices used as a coloring agent. Adding kesar to your food not just gives a tinge of orange-yellowish color to your food, but this comes with a whole lot of health benefits that you probably might not be aware of.
Apart from its use as a spice, adding a pinch of saffron in a glass of milk and drinking it on a regular basis can be equally beneficial.
Saffron has been in use since the ancient Greek times for its culinary and medicinal purposes.
It is basically obtained from the flower of Crocus sativus. The stigmas of the flower are picked up and then dried. It appears maroon-yellow in color.
What is Saffron?
Saffron is a spice derived from the saffron rose, a perennial plant related to the lily, also known by its scientific name Crocus sativus.
Crocus means thread in Greek, referring to the appearance of its stamens; while saffron is derived from the word Safra, meaning yellow in Arabic.
Saffron is among the world’s most expensive culinary ingredients. This special spice has been around for a thousand years and has a plethora of uses.
It is indigenous to the bare and treeless terrain of Greece before it became propagated throughout Europe, Asia, and North America.
Saffron (Kesar in Hindi, Jafran in Bengali, Kumkumappu in Tamil, Kumkuma pubba in Telugu and Zaeafran in Arabic) is thought to have originated in or near Persia, from where it propagated to Eurasia, and then to parts of North America, North Africa, and Oceania.
The plant usually thrives in the Mediterranean maquis (a place in the Mediterranean regions with dense evergreen shrubs), and in similar climates where hot and cold summer breezes blow over semi-arid lands.
The flower of the plant is purple and possesses a honey-like fragrance. The stems grow up to 20 to 30 cm in height, and they, along with the flowers and roots, develop between October and February.
Saffron is a labor-intensive crop which makes it so expensive. It has three delicate crimson stigmas in the center which are handpicked, placed on a riddle, and cured overheat to amplify its flavor.
It thrives best in warm, humid climates. Iran is the world’s largest supplier of saffron to date. Apart from its unique earthy essence, the health benefits of the saffron what makes it a highly priced spice.
Nutritional Value of Saffron
The fragrance and taste of saffron results from the chemicals called safranal and picrocrocin.
It consists of a carotenoid pigment which has a very rich goldenish color to textiles and dishes. It has been traded and used since the early ages. In the present world, Iran cultivates around 90% of the world’s total saffron content.
The leaves of Saffron are known as cataphylls and they are non-photosynthetic leaves. These leaves protect the crocus as the plant begins to develop.
The flowers of this plant have a very sweet fragrance which is similar to that of honey.
Unlike the other spices, saffron is known for its rich antioxidants and carotenoid properties. Safranal is one of the main antioxidants in saffron that has plenty of health benefits.
Due to these properties, saffron helps in fighting several health ailments.
In addition to this, saffron contains a compound called crocin which is known for its rich medicinal benefits.
Saffron also contains all the essential nutrients – vitamin C and manganese, which are just to name a few among them. In order to derive its benefits, saffron can be added to your regular food.
However, the best way to consume saffron is to add a pinch of it to a glass of warm milk and then drink it. So, today, we have listed here a few of the major benefits of drinking saffron milk.
Take a look.
Saffron Milk Benefits for Health
1. Helps Treat Insomnia:
Saffron is rich in manganese and is known for its mild sedative properties that help to relax the mind and induce sleep.
So, how do we prepare saffron milk?
Take 2-3 strands of saffron, steep it in a cup of warm milk for about 5 minutes. Add a teaspoon of raw honey and then drink this before going to bed.
This helps in fighting insomnia and helps one to get a sound sleep.
2. Fights Cancer
Studies have shown that cancerous rats treated with saffron aqueous extract showed improvement in their condition.
And crocin, the compound in saffron, had inhibited the growth of colorectal cancer cells (while it left the healthy cells unaffected).
It also had shown similar effects in the case of hepatic and prostate cancers. The spice had also played a major role in treating skin cancer.
Saffron is rich in carotenoids, which can contribute to its anticancer properties. Crocin in saffron can prevent breast cancer and leukemia.
However, further research is warranted.
As per a report by the American Council of Science and Health, crocetin (a carotenoid related to crocin) in saffron can block the proliferation of two types of human cancer.
It achieves this by inhibiting an enzyme that is particularly active in cancer cells.
Though this may not brand saffron as a superb anticancer food, the spice does hold great promise.
According to another study, crocetinic acid (a purified compound from crocetin) has the potential to inhibit pancreatic cancer.
In fact, the compound obstructs cancer stem cells – destroying them, which prevents cancer from returning.
3. CURES ACNE
Saffron makes an ideal ingredient for treating acne owing to its anti-bacterial and anti-oxidant properties.
If you are struggling with acne, here’s a remedy for you. Prepare a paste combining a pinch of saffron and 3-4 basil leaves and grinding them together.
Add a few drops of water to it and apply it to the affected area.
Let the paste dry on its own before washing it off with water. Using this remedy two to three times a week can help you to get rid of acne.
4. Promotes Mental Health
Mental stimulation is among the health benefits of saffron.
Various studies have shown that the stigma of the plant, the actual saffron, and its petals have similar mood benefits as antidepressant drugs.
Safranal and crocin, two compounds present in saffron, regulate neurochemicals such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine which help reduce symptoms in mild to moderate depression even without conventional psychiatric medications.
In fact, a two-month trial of 40 depressed individuals was conducted in Iran.
Random patients were assigned to take 20 mg of Prozac per day while others receive 15 mg of the saffron rose petal twice daily.
Researchers found that saffron has similar effects with the antidepressant drug.
It affects the endocrine system and helps reduce stress and anxiety.
Since ancient times, people have been using saffron to relax the mind and promote peaceful sleep due to its sedative properties.
Moreover, saffron promotes learning and memory retention.
Meanwhile, in Japan, it is encapsulated and is used for treating memory loss and Parkinson’s disease.
Crocin helps prevent age-related mental degradation such as Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Boosts Brain Health
Numerous studies show saffron to be effective in treating learning and memory impairments.
In one such study, administering 30 mg of saffron a day showed improvement in the condition of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Also, crocin and ethanolic extracts of saffron displayed antidepressant effects in rodents.
Saffron supplementation had also largely improved the mood of the subjects in another study.
Saffron aqueous extract was well tolerated even by schizophrenic patients, with no serious side effects.
Treatment with saffron 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.
Studies also propose a protective role of saffron in cerebral ischemia (inadequate blood supply to the brain).
Preliminary studies also hint at saffron’s ability to treat depression. These cognitive benefits of saffron can be attributed to its antioxidant reinforcement.
6. DRY SKIN TREATMENT
Dry skin can be very uncomfortable when accompanied by scaling, itching, and cracking.
A face mask made of lemon juice and saffron is an effective natural solution for dull and dry skin.
Combine lemon juice with a spoonful of saffron powder and add a few drops of milk.
Spread the paste all over your face and let it sit for 20 minutes before washing it off with lukewarm water.
Lemon will clear the skin from deep inside and saffron will make it shine.
7. Helps Prevent Macular Degeneration
Macular degeneration, America’s leading cause of blindness, is an age-related condition caused by degenerating cells in an area of the eye known as the macula.
Crocin and crocheting found in saffron can help prevent cell damage and delay age-related decline to the cells of the eye as a whole.
8. Enhances Immunity And Energy Levels
The carotenoids in saffron can positively affect immunity.
A study has found that sub-chronic use of 100 mg of saffron daily can have a temporary immunomodulatory activity without any harmful effects.
Saffron petal extract was also found to increase the antibody response in laboratory rats.
Saffron is also believed to improve energy levels – but we don’t have clear evidence on this.
9. BRIGHTENS THE SKIN
Kesar is known for its natural skin lightening qualities.
The spice proactively promotes healthier and glowing skin.
You only need to add a few strands of saffron in a glass of milk.
Another way to use kesar for glowing skin is to make a face mask adding 2-3 strands of saffron to one teaspoonful of sandalwood powder and 2 teaspoonfuls of milk to it.
Use this paste and massage thoroughly in a circular motion using the tips of your finger.
Let the paste sit for at least 30 minutes and rinse.
10. Provides Respiratory Health Benefits
It can cure coughing and the common cold.
It acts as an expectorant which loosens the phlegm from the lungs and throat. Saffron also has the quality to act as an anti-inflammatory substance as well as a stimulant.
Both qualities are beneficial against asthma.
Asthma attacks occur only when the respiratory tract has been narrowed down due to inflammation, and saffron can prevent that.
11. Is Good During Pregnancy
According to an Iranian study, saffron can increase the readiness of the cervix during term pregnancy.
It also has the highest effect on effacement (shortening of the uterine cervix and the thinning of its walls).
Also, the number of cesarean sections was lower in women who took saffron.
Conversely, some reports say that saffron can also be used to terminate the pregnancy.
Please consult your doctor in this regard. Take their advice.
12. Increases Sexual Vitality
This spice is a well known sexual enhancer.
A glass of milk with a pinch of saffron every night is all you need to increase your libido (according to anecdotal reports).
Saffron has the capacity to increase vitality even in older men.
Most importantly, it helps in erectile dysfunction, prevent infertility and premature ejaculation.
Likewise, saffron is a powerful aphrodisiac for women due to its impact on the endocrine glands by improving androgen levels.
13. Improves Heart Health
Due to its antioxidant properties, saffron helps maintain healthy arteries and blood vessels.
And the spice’s anti-inflammatory properties also benefit the heart.
Saffron is the richest source of riboflavin, an important vitamin for the heart.
The crocetin in the spice indirectly regulates blood cholesterol levels and reduces the severity of atherosclerosis.
Saffron can also lower blood pressure, which otherwise would lead to heart attacks.
14. Relieves Pain
It’s pain relieving attribute is among its most valuable asset.
It’s volatile compound safranal act as a sedative and helps cure toothaches.
Saffron also has antiseptic and sedative qualities, making it ideal for teething babies and for those who need to improve their sleeping patterns.
It is commonly used by natives of countries where it is cultivated as a natural sleep aid, as well as a nervous system relaxant to calm over firing nerves that lead to pain.
15. Saffron Has Hormonal Health Benefits
Premenstrual syndrome or PMS is caused by various hormones wreaking havoc at the same time.
Saffron can influence the endocrine system to a certain extent and stimulate the release of certain hormones (or neurochemicals to be more precise) beneficial in managing PMS such as serotonin.
Serotonin is known as the happy hormone and help to reduce the severity of a woman’s mood swings.
Saffron also has an estrogen-like effect, which helps prioritize blood flow towards the pelvic area during pregnancy, and is useful in helping girls with delayed puberty mature.
16. Good for Optimal Cell Function
Volatile compounds in saffron can effectively neutralize free radicals that can cause cell degeneration.
Saffron contains more or less 150 biochemicals including antioxidants, carotenoids, crocin, and safranal which are all beneficial in promoting cell growth and cell repair.
Saffron contains high amounts of potassium and magnesium which constitute one of the health benefits of saffron.
This amazing organic composition of saffron makes it a powerful preventative against cancer and helps maintain optimal DNA synthesis and replication of cells.
Any Side Effects Of Saffron milk?
Unsafe during pregnancy and breastfeeding
Taking saffron orally in large amounts during pregnancy can cause problems – it can lead to contractions of the uterus and lead to miscarriage. There is insufficient information with respect to breastfeeding. So, avoid the use and stay safe.
Since saffron can affect the mood, it might even trigger excitability and impulsive behavior in people suffering from bipolar disorder. Stay away from saffron if you have this condition.
Low blood pressure
Taking saffron might lower blood pressure way too much who are having low blood pressure or who are taking medications for treating high blood pressure. Take care.
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Saffron might influence how strong or fast the heart beats.
Though it can benefit the heart, please do consult your doctor if you are taking it to treat your heart condition.
Kesar Badam Milk Recipe / How to make Saffron Milk
What is Badam Milk?
Badam Milk is milk flavored with almonds.
Other flavorings like saffron and cardamom powder can be added to it to enhance the flavor.
It is a very healthy substitute for regular milk and must be given to children on a regular basis.
It is also good to sip on badam milk on cold winter days as it keeps the body warm. In summers, you can chill it and drink.
How to make Badam Milk?
To make this Indian Badam Doodh, soak the almonds in hot water for 15-20 minutes and then peel off the skin.
Add them in a blender and make a smooth paste. Now boil milk and add the badam paste in the boiling milk.
Add sugar and cardamom powder and saffron strands soaked in milk.
Cook the milk for some time and then serve chilled or hot.
You can also add rose water to this milk instead of saffron and can replace the cow’s milk with almond milk for a vegan version.
You can also add some crushed black pepper, fennel powder, and ginger powder and make it into masala milk.
How to make Badam Milk Step By Step
Soak almonds in hot water for 10 minutes
Remove the skin of almonds and add them in a blender along with 1/4 cup of milk. Grind them to make a smooth paste.
Soak saffron in 2 tbsp milk.
Heat milk in a heavy bottom pan. When the milk comes to a boil, add almond paste and saffron soaked in milk. Simmer the heat and let it cook for 20-25 minutes.
Add sugar and cardamom powder and cook for another minute.
1 liter Full-fat Milk
15-20 strands Saffron Soaked in 2 tbsp milk
1/4 cup Sugar
1/2 tsp Cardamom Powder
Soak almonds in hot water for 10 minutes.
Remove the skin of almonds and add them in a blender along with 1/4 cup of milk.
Grind them to make a smooth paste.
Heat milk in a heavy bottom pan.
When the milk comes to a boil, add almond paste and saffron soaked in milk.
Simmer the heat and let it cook for 20-25 minutes.
Add sugar and cardamom powder and cook for another minute.
You can serve the badam milk piping hot or can chill it in the refrigerator before serving.
I personally like chilled version.
Garnish with pistachio slivers and saffron strands.
Saffron is currently the world’s most expensive spice and is highly praised for its versatility.
It has a plethora of uses ranging from textile dyeing to enhancing dishes with its unique culinary properties.
Most of all, saffron is highly prized for its numerous Saffron Milk Benefits for Health, even though the amount usually consumed does not allow for adequate dietary amounts to be met.
Regardless, it contains more than a hundred biochemicals including its most prominent elements manganese, iron, and potassium.
It is also abundant in antioxidants.
Saffron promotes physical, respiratory, mental, and hormonal benefits among many others.
Saffron is unquestionably a treasure trove of health benefits which makes this luxurious spice worth every dime and effort spent on it.