Summary-Health benefits of Saffron
It must be noted that no one will eat an ounce of saffron in one sitting; recipes usually call for half a teaspoon or less, but examining an ounce is a good way to determine the nutritional aspects of this intriguing spice. First, the manganese content is off the charts at nearly 400% of the daily recommended value! Everything else seems a little chintzy after that, but the next-largest nutritional quantities also are quite impressive: vitamin C - 38%; magnesium - 18%; and iron - 17%. Potassium and vitamin B6 both impart 14% of the daily recommended value.
Manganese helps regulate blood sugar, metabolize carbohydrates, and absorb calcium. It also helps form tissues, bones, and sex hormones. Vitamin C is an infection fighter; iron purifies your blood; and the vitamin B6 content helps form red blood cells and assures nerves will function as they should. Potassium helps balance fluids in cells, which, if low, can cause painful muscle cramps.
Beyond that, saffron contains more than 150 volatile compounds, among others. Picrocrocin, for instance, is the main substance responsible for the strong taste. Safranal brings saffron its characteristic odor and fragrance. Crocin, which delivers the intense orange color, is an indication of this spice's medicinal qualities, i.e. its powerful carotenoids and antioxidants that can protect your body from free radical damage.
Saffron extract has been shown to be capable of inhibiting and/or retarding the growth of tumors in a variety of experimental models in vivo. A topical application inhibited second-stage skin cancer, and oral administration of saffron extract restricted soft tissue sarcomas and inhibited tumor cell growth in mice. Several studies combined indicated that saffron also may be a promising agent for reducing the side effects from cisplatin (an early, often used cancer drug), including nephrotoxicity (toxicity in the kidneys).1
In another study, saffron was examined for its effects on aluminum toxicity and found to significantly reverse harmful aluminum-induced symptoms, such as memory loss and neurological disorders. Saffron extracts improved lipid peroxidation (important for inhibiting diseases in the body) and glutathione levels, which function in the destruction of free radicals. Scientists concluded that saffron has "neuroprotective potential under toxicity.”2
Studies and information supporting pharmacological uses of Cardamom