We have been listening it since years that Kesar is the most ancient and is one of the most expensive spices in the world. But have you ever wondered that why is it so expensive? Or what’s so special about this spice? What all benefits it holds?
So, let’s just explore all and everything about this wonder spice.
We’ll start with what is Kesar? Where does it come from? How is it collected and why is it so expensive?
Kesar is also known as “Saffron” and is one of the most renowned spices in the world. Kesar is a thread like deep red colored strands with a tint of yellow that has a distinct aroma and flavor. It is derived from an autumn flowering plant “Corcus Sativus”. It originally was first grown in Greece but now is primarily grown in Iran, India and Russia. In India, it is cultivated in Jammu & Kashmir as it got the perfect weather conditions to cultivate saffron.
Corcus Sativus also known as saffron corcus blooms only for 1 month each year and every flower produces only 3 strands. It consists of various compounds and the 3 main compounds of Kesar are Crocin which gives it a deep red color, picrocrocin for that little bitter sweet taste and safranal for that sweet fragrance.
Corcus Sativus requires a specific climatic condition for growing and also it needs careful handling and harvesting as collecting theses strands is a complicated procedure and requires skilled labor for harvesting. It is cultivated in a mild to dry climate conditions and is collected in the mid-morning, like before the sunrise when the flowers are closed. If the flowers are opened before collection, then the stigmas may crash or get mixed with petals and this may decrease the quality of the Kesar. After collecting, the stigmas must be dried in order to store them for a longer period. Natural sunlight is used for the drying method to make it darker and to intensify its flavor. Specific climatic condition, slow growing process and skilled labor for hand harvesting are the major reasons that Kesar is one of the expensive spices in the world.
Now, we got the clear idea about how Kesar is cultivated and collected. Now the next thing we need to know is why should we include it into our daily routine? What all benefits it holds?
Health Benefits Of Saffron
1- Improves learning
Do you face problem while concentrating and remembering something for a longer period of time? Kesar has been considered as one of the most effective natural ingredient to improve memory and enhance learning. Many researches have shown that Kesar strands, basically its main compound crocin, enhances learning and memory retention. In Japan, it is used in the treatment of memory loss
2- Uplifts mood
Many of us often feel stressed, depressed due to loads of work pressure and personal issues. Kesar is one of such ingredient which contains anti- depressant properties that helps elevate the symptoms of depression. It increases the level of serotonin (a happy hormone) that helps uplift the mood and promotes a positive feeling of happiness.
3- Promotes healthy digestion
Unhealthy lifestyle, poor nutrition leads to serious digestive problems such as constipation and gastric issues etc. Saffron is rich in antioxidants that improve the digestive system and helps reduce the symptoms of digestive issues. Its medicinal compounds improve the digestion naturally and strengthens stomach functioning.
3- Boosts immunity
Kesar is rich in vitamin C which acts as an immunity booster. Vitamin C helps fight free radicals and strengthens the immune system. It acts as a shield against various infections and helps to provide relief from seasonal ailments such as cold and fever.
4- Improves eyesight
It is a supper food for improving visual performance, especially for the old age group. Kesar is rich in Vitamin A which helps strengthen the eye muscles and improves eyesight. Clinical studies showed a significant improvement in vision performance. Kesar increases the blood flow to retina, and helps in restoring and protecting from any damage.
Do you know that this popular spice is a powerful aphrodisiac? Yes you heard it right! The crocin in saffron helps to improve sexual behavior in male rats. Studies have shown that saffron helps improve sperm morphology in mice and can help improve testosterone levels.
Saffron was also found to be effective in improving sperm motility in infertility in men.
Antioxidants present in saffron have been suggested as to be the major reason behind the positive impact for enhancing mood and sexual drive.
It is a natural spice to enhance vitality in men and also to improve sexual function.
Apart from being so famous for its health benefits, Kesar also possess some skin benefits as well.
Beauty Benefits Of Saffron
1- Protects from sun damage
As we all know that sun rays are really harmful for the skin, extreme exposure can even lead to some serious skin problems. Kesar is one of those natural spices that has powerful antioxidants to protect the skin from harmful effects of the UV rays. Kesar acts as a shield and is used in many of the sunscreens to protect the skin from sun damage. Studies have shown that sunscreen having Kesar works better than the other sunscreens.
2- Reduces acne and acne scars
Kesar has anti-fungal properties that help fight against the bacteria causing acne. It has other medicinal properties that helps prevent and treat acne as well as other skin related issues such as scars and wounds. Kesar also comprise of excellent healing properties that helps heal wounds, acne scars and improves skin texture.
3- Hydrates the skin
Apart from treating acne and blemishes, Kesar holds moisturizing properties as well. It helps to deeply nourish the epidermis and treats dry skin. It moisturizes the skin and prevents from rough, dry patches and other skin infections.
4- Brightens the skin
For years and years Kesar has been associated with skin brightening. Yes! It is an amazing spice for brightening the skin tone. It is because Kesar has a lightening agent which reduces production of melanin pigment and helps in brightening the skin tone.
Now we know what all benefits Kesar holds, but the other most important thing is different ways of using it.
Kesar is a multipurpose medicinal spice, from our kitchen to worship rituals and from cosmetics and perfumery to the medicines this spice has covered it all.
Now let’s get an insight about how can saffron be used for different purposes.
As we all know that kesar has been used for culinary purposes for several years to enhance the taste, color and aroma of the dishes.
- Soak a few strands of Kesar in lukewarm water just few minutes before adding it into your cuisine. It helps to enhance the aroma and flavor of the dishes and gives a vivid yellow color to the dishes.
- Kesar adds a little sweet and a savory flavor to the dishes and are mainly used in Indian, Persian and Turkish dishes.
In India, it is used in several dishes such as – Ras Malai, Saffron Rice, Kesar Kheer, Kesar Phrini, Biryani, Kesar Lassi etc. and adds a golden hue and a distinct aroma to delicacies.
- Kesar is also used in several ceremonial functions in India, such as in religious rituals. Hindu women use Kesar to make tilak or bindi which depicts good fortune and conscience.
- In India, saffron is considered as one of the ancient ingredients of the traditional perfumes. It is still used in perfumery usually with sandalwood for that pleasant and mild fragrance. Even is one of the famous ingredients of ayurvedic cosmetic products such as moisturizers and serums for brightening effect.
- Saffron can also be used as a toner, just add few strands of Kesar into rose water overnight. Apply it after washing face or after scrubbing.
- For skin brightening treatment, soak a few strands of Kesar in raw milk for an hour and apply it on your face for 20 minutes, use regularly for even skin tone.
- It can be used as a face mask for soft and glowing skin. Soak 3-4 Kesar strands in 2 spoon of raw milk for 2 hours and then add 1 teaspoon of sandalwood powder into it.
- Wash your face and then apply this face pack for 20 minutes. Use this once a week for effective results.
- Kesar can be used to heal wounds, in ancient times, warriors used to apply Kesar strands on wounds for faster healing. Kesar holds excellent healing properties that can help remove scars and spots for spotless glowing skin.
- For stimulating hair growth, Kesar consists of antioxidants that helps purify the scalp and promotes healthy hair growth. Soak 10-15 strands of Kesar in pure Almond Oil (Badam Rogan Oil) for minimum 2-3 days it will become a little orange in color. Apply on scalp and gently massage in circular motions and leave it for 2 hours or overnight. Rinse thoroughly and use this oil once or twice a week for effective results.
- In Ayurveda, Kesar has been used since ages for healing. It comprise of healing properties that helps treat the wounds naturally. It even has anti-inflammatory properties that helps reduce swelling and can treat both acute and chronic pain.
- It is used for therapies such as body healing and detoxification.
- Kesar Milk has been considered since ages to promote better health and increase immunity. It gives a warming effect and provides relief from cold and fever. For Kesar milk, add 2-3 strands of Kesar in warm milk for about 10 minutes and can also add honey as per taste.
1 gram saffron is considered to be safe but the daily dose should be around 80-100 mg to get the desired results. Overdosing is not recommended.
For Pregnant women, it is recommended to consult a health professional regarding the dosage.
Just a friendly reminder, everybody has a different body type and every ingredient reacts differently on different people. So, it is advisable to consult a health professional for the required amount of dosage.