Saffron is the reddish-orange dried stigmas of the purple crocus flower. It can take 75,000 saffron blossoms to produce a single pound of saffron spice. Saffron is largely cultivated and harvested by hand. Due to the amount of labor involved in harvesting, saffron is considered one of the world’s most expensive spices.Specifically, those threads are the three red stigmas inside the flower. It is native to Southwest Asia, but was first cultivated in Greece. Cherished in Iran and the middle-east, saffron is also widely used in Spain, Italy and the rest of Europe.
Saffron is a strategic product in Iran. Iran’s share in the saffron world production and export is almost 90%. Labor requirement for saffron production is 200 man day per hectare. However, this figure is much higher in the processing and marketing sectors. DRC and SCB indices show that production of saffron in Iran has comparative advantages.
recent research has shown its potential to promote health. The constituents of interest include crocin, crocetin, picrocrocin, and safranal which have all demonstrated health promoting properties. Previous studies have found that biological activity of saffron constituents alleviate or prevent such health problems as gastric disorders, cardiovascular disease, insulin resistance, depression, premenstrual syndrome, insomnia, and anxiety. Saffron also shows promise in the prevention and maintenance of cancer due to its antioxidant properties.
Saffron contains chemicals that alter mood, kill cancer cells, decrease swelling, and act like antioxidants. The stigmas, and sometimes the petals, are also used to make medicine.