Author: Mohamad Ebrhaimi
Iranians are familiar with Saffron since long time ago. Saffron is a plant in category of lilies (kind of Garden Asparagus with underground stem). Saffron onion has long life and will remain in soil about 5 to 7 years. Saffron stem is grown out of soil from middle of its onion and a beautiful violet flower with chromatic violet and lilac midribs grows at the end of stem and finally the height of Saffron plant reaches between 10cm to 30 cm. At most 3 flowers grow from single Saffron onion and every flower has 6 petals. There are different tones of Saffron petal colors in different weather conditions and it is variable between lilac, light violet and dark violet. All of the explanation above was structure of Saffron plant but the main section, which is known as flavors and colorific for great range of foods and also contains many medicinal properties, is end of style and trifid stigma with aromatic odor and bitter flavor (Every Saffron flower has 3 stamens and one pistil leading to trifid stigma in red-orange color).
Saffron extraction is very difficult and a smidgen product will be extracted from many Saffron flowers, therefor, this situation increases price of Saffron.
Saffron plant is very resistant against weather conditions. Implant Saffron onion into depth of 20cm to survive from exhausting heat and ice cold weather. Saffron farm needs to be irrigated once until harvesting. Saffron will grow in the tropics which has conditions such as mild climate, warm and dry summer with fulltime sunshine and andante weather in fall and winter. Best type of soil to grow Saffron is sandy clay containing modicum lime. East of Iran (Khorasan province) and center of Iran are best places for growing Saffron in the world.
At historical view of Zarparan plant (Actually Saffron comes from Arabic equivalent of Persian word Zarparan which means flower with golden feathers) is using as spice, flavor and medicine in Iran since 3500 years ago.
Long experience of Iranians in Saffron cultivation, many studies of Iranian races in different eras until today, perfect weather and amazing proper farming lands to grow Saffron, etc. caused to Iran to be recognized as greatest producer and exporter of Saffron to worldwide and leads without any competitor by production of 80% of produced Saffron of the world.
Saffron Nutrition Facts
There are nutrition facts of Saffron in every 100 grams (5.3 ounce) listed below. Percent amounts are comparative.
||Nutrition facts in 100 grams Saffron
|Thiamine (vitamin B1)
||0.115 mg (9%)
|Riboflavin (Vitamin B12)
||0.267 mg (18%)
|Niacin (Vitamin B3)
||1.460 mg (10%)
||80.8 mg (135%)
||11.10 mg (89%)
||264 mg (71%)
||252 mg (36%)
||1724 mg (37%)
||148 mg (6%)
||1.09 mg (11%)
As you know the Saffron is used as flavor and colorific in many foods, pastries, etc. According to above table and being rich of foodstuff in Saffron, this plant has many medicinal benefits which I mention in the following:
- Saffron is against depression: Being pleasurable and laughable of Saffron always were mentioned in traditional medicine of Iran. These topics were enough for scientists to research and find out that Saffron is an appropriate medicine against common depression disease. So it is recommended to drink at least one glass of Saffron every day to gain relaxation.
- Saffron is against neurological disease: Daily consumption of Saffron causes mindfulness and prevents diseases outbreak such as Alzheimer and Parkinson. Also consumption of Saffron is decreasing neuralgia and will prevent from disorders caused by lack of sleep.
- Saffron is anticancer: Studies in molecular structure of Saffron is shown that this plant has anticancer nature and acts as an antitumor medicine and a free radical scavenger.
- Saffron prevents from loss of vision in old age: Official website of University of Sydney announced significant results on 2010 February 5th, about golden herbal medicine of Saffron based on researches from researchers of Italy branch of University of Sydney. Professor Silvia Bisti expressed that a few months using of Saffron Pills will improve loss of division caused by old age considerably. Even at most times you can see complete improvement of Presbyopia and the eyesight will to normal just because of taking Saffron Pills. But she also notes that the improvement remains effective while taking Saffron Pills and it will disappear after leaving pills. Also there is no need to be concerned for taking Saffron Pills permanently, because the Saffron Pills are herbal and won't be harmful for human's body.
- Avicenna perspective for medical properties of Saffron: Avicenna mentioned to many useful effects for Saffron herbal medicine in his most famous book The Canon of Medicine, including: anti fever, facilitating birth for pregnant women in last month of pregnancy, clearance of mucus, joy bringer, sexual reinforcement, face color improvement, pain killer, anti-inflammation, anti-depression, amblyopia improvement, emetic, stomach and liver improvement, helper for loss of appetite and removing infection.
Important note: Although Saffron can effect on menstrual disorders and helps pregnant women to birth in last months of pregnancy, but if there is no problem in giving birth for pregnant women, it is better to not to use of Saffron during pregnancy to avoid abortion.
Iran is the biggest country as Saffron producer; Iranians heard this sentence too many times. Beyond the title of being the biggest producer of Saffron in the world for Iran, there is always a question which: "Why Iranians are not greatest Saffron businessmen in the world?" The answer is clear. It is enough to look at how to export other kind of products from Iran, you will see Iran export many type of products as row material to the world and there is benefits for other countries from processing and production of new products (The main comparison is oil or petroleum). Iranian Saffron as a raw material exchanges between 1200$ to 1800$ for 1 kg in international markets. Countries like Spain and UAE import Iranian Saffron as raw material and just with packing under their names could gain up to 30% net profit.
According to description above, there are some ways for businessmen to profit more in export and import Saffron:
a. Packing: A simple way which could be beneficial up to 30% is packing raw material of Saffron. There are a lot of investment opportunities in Iran to establish installation for packing factories.
b. Entrepreneurship and produce beneficial and popular products based on Saffron: Products such as Saffron gum, milk and boiling water soluble pills, Saffron tea, Saffron flavors for yogurt and salad, etc. are derivatives of Saffron which could set up in Iran considering easy access to Saffron farms.
c. Saffron is herbal medicine: Frenches took advantage of medical properties of Saffron more than contemporary Iranians. Frenches are produced kind of Saffron pill and sell in their pharmacies. According to explanations in current article and a brief research in Iranian traditional medicine (like Avicenna books) there are many medical properties in Saffron which could be noticed. So Iran is best place to produce herbal medicine based on Saffron because of availability, easy access and knowledge of Saffron.