Saffron contains an impressive variety of botanicals that act as antioxidants-molecules that protect your cells from free radicals and oxidative stress.
Safran’s notable antioxidants include crocin, crocetin, safranal, and kaempferol.
Crocin and crocetin are carotenoid pigments and are responsible for the red color of saffron. Both compounds may have antidepressant properties, protect brain cells from progressive damage, improve inflammation, reduce appetite, and aid in weight loss.
Negin saffron gives saffron its distinct flavor and aroma. Research has shown that it can help improve your mood, memory and learning abilities, as well as protect your brain cells from oxidative stress.
Finally, kaempferol is found in the petals of saffron flowers. This compound has been linked to health benefits such as reduced inflammation, anti-cancer properties, and antidepressant effects.
Saffron can improve mood and treat depressive symptoms
This is not only because of its distinct color, but also because it can bright your mood.
In an analysis of five studies, saffron supplements were significantly more effective than placebos in treating symptoms of mild to moderate depression.
Other studies found that taking 30 mg of saffron daily was as effective as fluoxetine, imipramine and citalopram – conventional treatments for depression. Additionally, fewer people experienced side effects from saffron compared to other treatments.
In addition, both the saffron petals and the threadlike stigma appear to be effective against mild to moderate depression.
While these results are promising, longer human studies with more participants are needed before saffron can be recommended as a treatment for depression.
Saffron may have anti-cancer properties
Saffron is rich in antioxidants that help neutralize harmful free radicals. Free radical damage has been linked to chronic diseases like cancer.
In test-tube studies, saffron and its compounds have been shown to selectively kill or suppress the growth of colon cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed.
This effect also applies to skin, bone marrow, prostate, lung, breast and cervical cancer cells, as well as several other cancer cells.
While these results from test-tube studies are promising, the anti-cancer effects of saffron in humans are under-researched, and more research is needed.
Saffron can reduce PMS symptoms
Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS) is a term that describes physical, emotional, and psychological symptoms that occur before menstruation begins.
Studies show that saffron can help treat PMS symptoms.
In women aged 20-45, taking 30 mg of saffron daily was more effective than a placebo at treating PMS symptoms such as irritability, headaches, food cravings and pain.
Another study found that just smelling saffron for 20 minutes helped reduce PMS symptoms like anxiety and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
Saffron can act as an aphrodisiac
Aphrodisiacs are foods or supplements that help increase your libido.
Studies have shown that saffron may have aphrodisiac properties — particularly in people taking antidepressants.
For example, taking 30 mg of saffron daily for four weeks significantly improved erectile function versus placebo in men with antidepressant-related erectile dysfunction.
Additionally, an analysis of six studies showed that saffron intake significantly improved erectile function, libido, and overall satisfaction, but not sperm characteristics.
In women with low sexual desire due to antidepressant use, 30 mg of saffron daily for four weeks reduced sex-related pain and increased sexual desire and lubrication compared to a placebo.