Saffron is an orange spice that is made from the dried crocus and is used to color or flavor foods in the Middle East, Asia, and India.8 The main compound, safranal, has found to be a potent antidepressant and contain neuroprotective properties.8 Clinical studies indicate safranal has a positive impact on serotonin, one of the brains neurotransmitter. In another randomized double-blind clinical trial, safranal appears to protect the brain against oxidative damage while acting as a radical scavenger improving memory as well as promote the diffusivity of oxygen in tissues.16
In cooking, saffron can be used in rice pilaf, roasted salmon, or sautéed with shrimp, chicken and pork.
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