Without a little spice food would be tasteless and uninteresting. Spices help to bring out the flavor of the food and liven it up giving it added vitality. Apart from just playing the role of ‘just adding flavor to your food’ research has shown that spices can be used for their medicinal properties as they help to prevent many illnesses and diseases. Spices have been used since ancient times and for centuries due to their anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and anti-cancer properties. One of the most important among these spices is saffron which has a medicinal history of about 3000 years. This spice is one of the most expensive spices till date and comes from the saffron crocus flower. The health benefits of fresh saffron are varied as are the uses of this spice. Fresh Saffron is full of varied natural components in high quantities that have many possible health benefits. The golden-orange color that fresh Saffron has is due to the carotenoids present in it in high quantities. These carotenoids are comprised of lycopenes – commonly found in processed tomatoes which have great health benefits, and beta-carotenes – commonly found in carrots. The carotenoids present in fresh Saffron have anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties and has been known to help reduce the chances of macular degeneration of the eyes as well as the risk of some types of cancer. Zeaxanthin is a carotenoid pigment which is essential for good eye sight as it exists in the retina of the eye. It is also the major component that helps salmon fish obtain their pink color. This pigment is found in abundance only in fresh Saffron.
Fresh Saffron also seems to have some anti cancer properties. Studies which have been conducted on laboratory mice have shown that saffron is effective in inhibiting the growth of certain types of skin cancer. It has also been found to be effective in inhibiting the growth of a tumor called sarcoma. Saffron obtains its anti cancer properties from Crocetin another carotenoid which is present in abundance in it. Crocetin also has strong anti-inflammatory properties. Due to such high quantities of carotenoids that it possesses Saffron shows promise towards the treatment of certain type’s of cancer.