The answer to this question depends on how you look at saffron: on the one hand, it is a very important spice in Moroccan cooking and in Middle Eastern food alike. Because of its aromatic nature, it is used in foods such as cheese and meat, and in a wide variety of other dishes. On the other hand, it is also highly toxic. The toxic compounds in saffron are phenolic compounds (including tetrahydro-phenylacetic acid) — compounds that make it difficult for the body to break down.
“It is hard for patients to tolerate saffron. If you eat it, you can lose a lot of weight. People have eaten it, and then, when they go to eat another dish, it makes them feel sick and they feel dizzy,” says Dr. Mohammad Azmi, a gastroenterologist at the New York Hospital Center. “Saffron is toxic.”
The most common cause of poisoning is vomiting resulting from eating just a single spoonfuls of saffron. Dr. Sadek adds that saffron is also used by some yogis because it helps the digestive system process toxins. However, it should be treated with caution and, as with all plants, monitored closely. He says a healthy, educated adult should avoid consuming more than two teaspoons of saffron a day, unless his or her doctor says otherwise.
As for the health benefits of saffron?
Saffron contains several compounds that may help improve the health of the gut, including the amino acid tryptophan, which helps to bind with proteins. Scientists are still trying to understand why saffron appears to prevent the development of cancer, but researchers think that it may play a similar role in reducing the risk of colorectal cancer.
Another compound found in saffron — lignans — have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antioxidant properties of their own. These are active in a range of bodily systems and can boost immunity and lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure and heart disease. Researchers are also studying whether saffron can be used in cancer chemotherapy, as it has been used in an experimental cancer treatment called “saffron-based phototherapy.”
“Saffron is an amazingly nutritious spice that seems to be great for your health, but unfortunately, it may have some negative impacts on your health,” says Dr. Azmi.
How should saffron be stored
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