What is the most expensive spice in the world?
Correct Answer: Saffron
Saffron can range anywhere from $500 - $5000 per pound, making it the most expensive spice globally. The Saffron spice originates from the flower called Crocus Sativus, which is native to Central Asia. Each of the flowers on the Crocus Sativus plant only has three stigmas. Growing and harvesting is the reason it cost so much. It is very labor-intensive to harvest the plants as they require handpicking to prevent damage. To gather one pound of Saffron requires around 20 hours of labor and approximately 80,000 flowers.
It doesn't take much, just one strand of Saffron to spice up a delicious dish. Not having to use very much is one advantage of the price paid for the spice.
Saffron has a lot of potential health benefits. Protecting your cells from free radicals and oxidative stress Saffron contains an impressive variety of plant compounds that act as antioxidants. The antioxidants included in Saffron are crocetin, crocin, safranal, and kaempferol.
The crocetin and crocin are carotenoid pigments that give Saffron the red color. These compounds may have antidepressant properties, improve inflammation, protect brain cells against progressive damage, reduce appetite, and aid weight loss.
The flavor and aroma come from the safranal compound. Research has shown Saffron may help improve your mood, protect your brain cells against oxidative stress, increase memory, and learning abilities.
Kaempferol, found in the Crocus Sativus plant's flower petals, has health benefits as well. The health benefits include anticancer properties, reduced inflammation, and antidepressant activity.
The high antioxidants in Saffron help neutralize harmful free radicals, which in turn helps fight against cancer. During a test-tube study, Saffron compounds actively attacked and killed colon cancer cells while leaving normal cells unharmed. Other lab studies showed the same effects applied to bone marrow, skin, prostate, lung, breast cervix, and several other cancers cells. One thing to keep in mind, as promising as these studies where the testing took place in a test tube laboratory, and there have been very few studies in humans. More research is needed to further our knowledge of this beautiful spice.
Other health benefits tested on animals and humans include reduced heart disease risks, lower blood sugar levels, improved eyesight with age-related muscular degeneration in adults, improved memory with adults with Alzheimer's disease, and reduced PMS symptoms.
The bottom line, Saffron, is a powerful spice that is high in antioxidants with many health benefits and is generally safe for most people, and is easy to add to any diet.