Saffron: if you suffer from depression, this is the spice for you.
All spices are good for your health, they've been used for their medicinal properties for thousands of years. My favourites are turmeric & cinnamon, which I add to my daily smoothie. But now there's a new kid is on the block, for me, that I couldn't wait to share. What I didn't know, till very recently, is the amazing health benefits of saffron: probably the most expensive spice in the world! (It comes from a small purple crocus and the flower's stigmas have to be collected by hand - very labour intensive.)
Historically, saffron has been used as a traditional medicine by herbalists for reducing fevers, cramps and as an aphrodisiac! More recently, research shows that saffron has also been found to have anti-carcinogenic properties, is a fantastic anti-oxidant, reduces inflammation in the body, and can improve eye health by slowing down macular degeneration.
But most exciting of all, it's been proven in scientific studies, announced on Channel 4 programme Superfoods, that 10-20 strands a day, or 30 milligrams, can raise serotonin levels enough to have an excellent effect on depression. (here's a link to one of the many papers on this) In a 6 week trial in the UK, patients were found to have a very similar improvement in their mood as those on a prescribed anti-depression. So all great news.
Apart from adding a few strands to your cooking, the easiest and most beneficial way of trying it out on yourself is by making a couple of glasses of saffron tea a day........
If you have any health conditions, or are pregnant, don't use a supplement form of this spice without checking with your doctor first. A few strands of saffron in a cup of tea is very different from a pill manufactured in a laboratory, natural or other wise. And if you are on any medication or at all concerned, it's always wise to check with a health practioner before making any major dietary changes.
EASY SAFFRON TEA
3 to 4 strands of saffron
A little honey
Put the saffron in a cup or glass with a little warm water and leave for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, pour boiling water over it and add a little honey to taste.
If you're travelling abroad this summer, especially Asia, Morocco and Turkey you will find it cheaper in the local spice markets than in stores in the West. But be careful of poor imitations.
As ever, please add any comments about this beautiful spice. Have you tried it? Has it helped you or anyone you know? Meanwhile, I will be trying it out as soon as I have bought some more to see if it has any impact on my sex drive or mood! I will report back.
See you soon,