And if that’s not the answer, what about that green saffron that a lot of consumers consider the best?
“In the last two or three years saffron’s popularity has grown enormously, and it has had the ability to be associated with health food,” says Vadodara-Dixon. “It’s been seen a lot as a way to avoid the toxins in animal products like meat, which is why some consumers are looking to it for health benefits.”
Saffron can be ground into a paste, which is used as a lotion, pasteurizer, and for seasoning.
It’s easy to be wary of saffron when the yellow flower is used in cooking, for instance. And the color isn’t a flattering shade for many people. While some believe it will help the skin lighten when the weather turns warmer, other experts say it might actually interfere with the natural absorption of moisture, and could even cause people to develop dehydration.
“It can appear blue, as some people might find yellow,” says M.H. Karp, Ph.D., clinical professor and director of medical toxicology at the Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus. “Although it doesn’t look like a yellow mustard, it will take on that color.”
Karp is critical of saffron’s use as a cooking seasoning as a number of studies have linked it to stomach upsets, nausea, gastrointestinal distress, bloating, and diarrhea.
“This can be associated with stomach problems in humans, but it can also potentially be associated with liver problems or autoimmune problems such as food allergy or asthma,” he says. “So it is possible saffron could have adverse effects.”
Karp says the FDA does not monitor or review saffron health claims. However, it does have guidelines for making saffron a food product, and it does limit the use of saffron to its original use – as a cosmetic seasoning. “But consumers can continue growing their own,” he says. He urges people to keep a close eye on this herb and its potential health effects.
The EPA’s Karp says he is concerned over the use of saffron paste for the cooking. “Because saffron paste is not pasteurized and contains some impurities, it is at much higher risk of contamination, especially if it comes in contact with the air or food in a home,” he says.
There is growing concern among medical experts over
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