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Saffron, in most Indian households, is bought only during special occasions because it is a rather expensive spice. It takes around twenty thousand crocus flowers to make a single kilogram of kesar. So if you find it on your mom's shopping list, you'd know she's planned something special! It has a sweet, earthy aroma which can instantly enhance the flavour of sweets and savouries alike. It's generally used sparingly because a little can go a very long way. This fragrant spice is also a natural food colour which imparts a rich, golden when it's added to food. But the positives of kesar don't end there. The expensive, aromatic herb also has many health benefits.
Health-wise, saffron is a powerhouse of antioxidants and has a host of cardiovascular and anti-depressive health effects. But it's the anti-obesity effects of the spice that are largely unknown. Although its exact weight loss mechanism is unknown, studies speculate that saffron affects different biological functions to bring about fat loss. The herb brings down calorie intake by blocking dietary fat digestion, it acts as an antioxidant and suppresses inflammatory cytokines, it imparts a feeling of fullness and enhances glucose and lipid metabolism in the body.
To make the best use of kesar, either use it in your food every day or brew a healthy tea out of the stamens. To prepare kesar tea, boil a cup of water. Avoid putting kesar directly into the boiling water since the stamens are very fragile, and shocking them with hot water might alter the taste. Instead, take the water off the heat and let it rest for a few minutes. Immerse the stamen in the water till the colour bleeds out. Now sip on this tea slowly, savouring the flavour.
Since it also has anti-depressive effects, it is the perfect beverage to unwind with at the end of a stressful day at work. But for saffron tea to work, it is also important to have a proper diet and exercise regimen.
Mashmoul, M., Azlan, A., Khaza ai, H., Mohd Yusof, B. N., & Mohd Noor, S. (2013). Saffron: A Natural Potent Antioxidant as a Promising Anti-Obesity Drug. Antioxidants, 2(4), 293 308. http://doi.org/10.3390/antiox2040293
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