Kashmiri saffron is the most expensive spice in the world. Known mostly for its culinary use, Kashmiri Kesar, locally known as Zafran or Kong, comes with numerous medicinal and health benefits. Kashmiri saffron has a distinct crimson flavor because of the chemical components picrocrocin, and Safranal. It also contains a natural Carotenoid, Crocin, which gives saffron its golden-yellow hue. These traits make it a valuable ingredient in many cuisines worldwide.
What is Kesar:
Kesar or Saffron is the dried stigma or threads of the flower of the S. Crocus plant. The plant is a bulbous perennial plant and is botanically known as Crocus sativus. The Crocus sativus plant bears lavender-colored flowers during each season, which lasts from October until November. Each flower consists of a stalk, known as style, connecting to the three stigmas or threads to the rest of the plant. These orange-yellow-colored stigmas along with the style constitute Kesar or Saffron which is used as a spice.
Where is Saffron cultivated:
This exotic spice Saffron is a native of the Jammu & Kashmir state of India, Iran, and Spain and is now cultivated worldwide in many countries, like Italy, France, Greece, and Turkey.
Chemical Composition of Saffron:
The novel saffron is a good source of minerals like copper, potassium, calcium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese and copper are used by the body as co-factors for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is essential for red blood cell production and as a co-factor for cytochrome oxidases enzymes.
Additionally, it is also rich in many vital vitamins, including vitamin A, folic acid, riboflavin, niacin, Vitamin-C that is essential for optimum health
Calorie Count of Kashmiri Saffron:
Kashmiri Saffron, in about 100 grams of its quantity contains 310-kilo calories, 65.37 grams of carbohydrates, 11.43 grams of protein, 5.85 grams of fat and 0 mg of cholesterol. Dietary fibre content is 3.9 grams with other minerals like calcium 111 mg, copper, 0.328 mg, iron 11.10 mg, magnesium 264 mg and manganese 28 mg contributing to its mineral base.
Health Benefits of Kashmiri Saffron:
- Kashmiri Kesar or Saffron is a source of Carotenoids, which maintains the health of our eye by protecting it from muscle degeneration and cataracts.
- Crocin and Crocetin are powerful antioxidants in Kesar that help in improving the memory of a person. It is hugely beneficial for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
- Saffron contains 5-hydroxytryptophan which helps in the production of serotonin which helps in elevating the mood as it triggers the feeling that makes you feel good and relaxed, which can make you feel better.
- Kashmiri Zafran has been proven to be beneficial in treating arthritis and helps in reducing bone erosion and in healing joint pains. It also has anti-inflammatory effects and reduces swelling in the joints.
- Kashmiri Kesar helps to increase appetite by lowering down indigestion, preventing vomiting and diarrhea, and provides relief from acidity and gas-related problems.
- Kashmiri Saffron helps to cure sleep disorders like Insomnia. Taking a pinch of saffron in warm milk before going to bed helps you to get a good night’s sleep.
- Keshar is considered a blood purifier and increase the oxygen content of the blood.
- Saffron helps to induce menses and can help to relieve pain associated with monthly periods. It also helps to reduce the chronic problem of bleeding of the uterus. You should always consult your concerned physician before using any herb.
- Saffron is beneficial for maintaining dental health. It helps in making the gums strong and reduces inflammation and swelling in the mouth.
- Zafran paste when applied to the injury helps speed up the healing process.
- Kashmiri Saffron contains other Carotenoids, including zeaxanthin, Lycopene, and carotenes which are important antioxidants that help protect the human body from oxidant-induced stress, cancers, and infections. It also acts as an immune modulator.
Skin Benefits of Kashmiri Saffron :
- Kashmiri Saffron kills bacteria, making it ideal for treating acne.
- Because of its anti-bacterial and exfoliating properties, it helps in creating a brighter and clearer complexion.
- Kashmiri Saffron can help in toning up your skin. All you need to do is soak saffron strands in rose water and apply it to your skin after scrubbing.
Side Effects of Saffron :
The intake of Kesar needs to be monitored. In case, the spice or saffron supplements are consumed in excessive amounts, there is the fear of some minor side effects which include:
- Food cravings or appetite reduction
The side effects of saffron or Zafran could be dangerous when its intake is not properly monitored. Saffron could also cause allergic reactions in certain individuals and therefore one needs to be careful of such situations. People who are allergic to plants like Lolium, Olea (includes olive) and Salsola might also face allergic reaction to saffron.
Kesar milk (Saffron Milk) is recommended during pregnancy due to its healing effects, but the dosage needs to be tracked. 2 strands of saffron in a glass of milk once a day is sufficient. Also, saffron intake should be started from the first trimester of pregnancy and it is advisable to consult your gynaecologist before you include Kesar in your diet.
Doctors also advise breastfeeding mothers to avoid medium to large doses of saffron, as the effects on a newborn baby are unknown.