Saffron is a small, bulbous spice acquired from a flower called saffron crocus. It is painstakingly handpicked and carefully cured over heat to deepen its flavor profile. The process requires so much labor that it makes saffron one of the most expensive spices in the world. This valuable culinary ingredient is mainly produced in Iran. Spain is the largest importer of the spice.
Saffron has a variety of beneficial properties. It can be used as an aphrodisiac or it can be used to bring on menstruation. The most impressive health benefit of saffron is its ability to improve respiratory health and immune function.
Saffron Benefit #1: Helps Protect against Cancer
Saffron contains a carotene called crocin, which contributes to its golden color. Research suggests that crocin can trigger cell death (also known as apoptosis) in a variety of cancers, including leukemia, ovarian carcinoma, colon adenocarcinoma, and soft tissue sarcoma.
Saffron has over one hundred active components that inhibit malignant cancer cells without harming normal cells. The antioxidants found in saffron neutralize free radicals, which are by-products of cell metabolism. This boosts the health of the immune system and prevents cancer from developing and spreading.