Saffron vs Turmeric – Which Is Healthier

Saffron

It is a small, bulbous, perennial spice and a member of the lily family. Saffron is well known for being one of the most expensive spices in the world.

This spice was grown in the treeless and bare terrain of Greece before it became propagated throughout Asia, Europe, and North America.

In the present day, in terms of quality and volume, Iran is the most important producer. In addition, it is produced in Morocco, Greece, Spain, Italy, and Kashmir.

The most common form of saffron is in the powdered or dried form. Due to its unique taste, saffron is used for refreshment purposes as well as in a variety of food recipes.

Nutrition Facts

1 ounce (28 grams) of dried saffron contains:

  • 88 calories;
  • 1.1g Fiber – 4% daily value;
  • 3.2g Protein – 6% DV;
  • 148 IU Vitamin A – 3% DV;
  • 22.6mg Vitamin C – 38% DV;
  • 0.0mg Thiamin –2% DV;
  • 0.1mg Riboflavin – 4% DV;
  • 0.4mg Niacin – 2% DV;
  • 0.3mg Vitamin B6 – 14% DV;
  • 26mcg Folate – 7% DV;
  • 31mg Calcium – 3% DV;
  • 3.1mg Iron – 17% DV;
  • 73.9mg Magnesium – 18% DV;
  • 70.7mg Phosphorus – 17% DV;
  • 483mg Potassium – 14% DV;
  • 0.3mg Zinc – 2% DV;
  • 0.1mg Copper – 5% DV;
  • 8mg Manganese – 398% DV;
  • 1.6mcg Selenium – 2% DV.

Note – the unique organic composition of the spice makes it an important addition to the diet, as it contains over 155 volatile compounds, including safranal, carotenoids, or crocin.

Health Benefits

In traditional medicine, saffron has been commonly used as an herbal sedative, aphrodisiac, antispasmodic, expectorant, diaphoretic, stomachic, stimulant, eupeptic, anticatarrhal, emmenagogue, and gingival sedative.

Manganese

The spice is extremely rich in manganese, an essential trace mineral that helps the formation of tissues, bones, and sex hormones and helps regulate blood sugar (glucose).

A few studies established that manganese levels may be lower in individuals with seizure disorders. Also, women who have lower levels of this mineral in their blood have more mood-related symptoms and pain during pre-menstruation, according to a study that was issued in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Alzheimer’s Disease (AD)w

AD is the most frequent type of dementia. Symptoms may include:

  • anxiety;
  • low mood;
  • disorientation, confusion, and getting lost in familiar places;
  • delusions (believing things which are not true);
  • hallucinations (seeing or hearing things which are not there);
  • personality changes, like – becoming demanding, aggressive, and suspicious of others;
  • problems performing self-care tasks or moving around without assistance;
  • problems with language and speech;
  • difficulty making decisions or planning.

Clinical studies have concluded that this spice and crocin (its main active component) have positive effects on cognition in Alzheimer’s sufferers, similar to medications such as donepezil (marketed under the trade name Aricept).

Premenstrual Syndrome

Premenstrual syndrome is a condition which affects up to 85% of menstruating women. Common symptoms of PMS include the following:

  • abdominal pain;
  • changes in sexual desire;
  • gastrointestinal symptoms;
  • increased nap taking;
  • skin problems;
  • insomnia;
  • fatigue;
  • poor concentration;
  • aches and pains;
  • social withdrawal;
  • swelling of the hands or feet;
  • confusion;
  • headache;
  • anxiety;
  • bloating and weight gain;
  • crying spells;
  • breast tenderness;
  • irritability;
  • thirst and appetite changes;
  • angry outbursts;
  • depression.

According to studies, saffron can notably reduce the symptoms of the premenstrual syndrome which impacts behavior, mood, and pain.

Depression

Image credit – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Depression.jpg

Depression is a common problem which impacts over 21 million people in the United States.

Adults with the major depressive disorder who took an active constituent of saffron (called crocin) experienced substantially improved scores on self-reported assessments, according to a 2015 study which was published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Side Effects

Consuming high doses (over 10 grams per day) of this spice might cause dizziness, bloody diarrhea, yellowing of skin and eyes, or vomiting.

Turmericturmeric

This root comes from the Curcuma longa plant, that grows in India and other Southeast Asian countries.

Turmeric, sometimes called “Indian Saffron,” is a cousin of ginger and has traditionally been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to treat skin diseases, inflammatory conditions, digestive ailments, wounds, and liver problems.

It is available in a few forms including tablets, capsules, energy drinks, ointments, cosmetics, and soaps.

Nutrition Facts

100g of turmeric contains:

  • 99 calories;
  • 2.2g Fiber – 4% daily value;
  • 1.1g Protein – 2% DV;
  • 7.3mg Vitamin C – 12% DV;
  • 0.9 mg Vitamin E – 4% DV;
  • 3.8mcg Vitamin K – 5% DV;
  • 0.0mg Thiamin – 3% DV;
  • 0.1mg Riboflavin – 4% DV;
  • 1.4mg Niacin – 7% DV;
  • 0.5mg Vitamin B6 – 25% DV;
  • 10.9mcg Folate – 3% DV;
  • 13.8mg Choline;
  • 2.7mg Betaine;
  • 51.2mg Calcium – 5% DV;
  • 11.6mg Iron – 64% DV;
  • 54mg Magnesium – 14% DV;
  • 75mg Phosphorus – 8% DV;
  • 707mg Potassium – 20% DV;
  • 1.2mg Zinc – 8% DV;
  • 0.2mg Copper – 8% DV;
  • 2.2mg Manganese – 110% DV;
  • 1.3mcg Selenium – 2% DV.

Health Benefits

With over 3,150 studies published in peer-reviewed journals in the last 25 years showing the remarkable health benefits of turmeric, this spice has made quite an entrance into the Western medicinal world.

Curcumin

Curcumin is the main active ingredient in this spice and is a strong anti-inflammatory agent. Actually, it’s so potent that it matches the effectiveness of some anti-inflammatory drugs, without any side effect. Some clinical studies show that curcumin can improve symptoms of osteoarthritis by improving functionality and reducing pain.

Note – though dosing recommendations seem to vary, people who participated in studies took around 800 milligrams of turmeric a day in capsule form.

The antioxidant properties of the spice have been found to delay the onset of type 2 diabetes mellitus in people with pre-diabetes.

Moreover, the anti-inflammatory effects of turmeric have been studied as a possible treatment for Alzheimer’s disease. Also, research has concluded that curcumin has a similar effect to Prozac (an antidepressant of the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor class) on people suffering from mood swings, depression, stress, and anxiety.

When combined with cauliflower, this spice has stopped the growth of existing prostate cancer and has been effective in preventing prostate cancer.

Turmeric is also a natural antibacterial and antiseptic agent, effective in disinfecting burns and cuts. Curcumin can stimulate the gallbladder to produce bile, making the digestive system to work better. Furthermore, turmeric can reduce plaque buildup in the arteries, that can otherwise lead to the hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), according to a study published in the ”Journal of Medicinal Food.”

Note – consuming black pepper with turmeric enhances absorption of curcumin by about 2000 percent, thanks to piperine, a substance in the pepper.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is one of the vitamins included in the vitamin B family.

Note – this water-soluble nutrient itself isn’t a single vitamin, rather a category of 6 chemical compounds.

Vitamin B6 can inhibit the production of homocysteine (a non-proteinogenic α-amino acid), that is a by-product which damages cell walls.

Additionally, some studies concluded that the intake of vitamin B6 rich foods may be beneficial in treating pregnant women with anemia.

A deficiency in vitamin B6 is one cause of seborrheic dermatitis, a red, itchy rash. Also, a vitamin B6 deficiency can over time cause the following symptoms:

  • worsening symptoms of anemia;
  • worsening of the premenstrual syndrome symptoms;
  • changes in mood, like – anxiety, irritability, and depression;
  • low energy;
  • muscle pains;
  • confusion.

Bottom Line – Saffron vs Turmeric

Both spices are highly nutritious and should be included in your regular diet, however, turmeric has a superior nutritional profile, due to its higher content of iron, dietary fiber, copper, and potassium.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4599112/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5664031/
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2352385915300116