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Mad about saffron

By Mike Peters | China Daily | Updated: 2015-04-30 08:15

Mad about saffron

Saffron yields its vibrant aroma and color to a Persian rice pudding.[Photo provided to China Daily]

"Traditional Chinese medicine values saffron as a pain killer and for treating cramps, asthma, bruises and stomach ailments, as well as for lowering blood pressure," she notes. "Recent clinical studies in the West show it might ease some depressive symptoms. More than a decade ago, people found that turmeric had these tremendous anti-inflammatory qualities, and that spurred both laboratory and clinical focus on all kinds of traditional medicine, especially Ayurveda and TCM."

Sayer Ji concurs, observing that while recent mainstream coverage on the Dr. Oz show highlighted saffron for potential weight-loss promoting properties, because it can suppress appetite, "saffron has far more to offer than that. It may, in fact, hold promise for serious neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease."

In California, where locals can wax as poetic about food as any Iranian, a small Santa Cruz company slowly infuses saffron and other spices known for their health qualities into a tonic-a cordial syrup marketed as Silk Road Genuine Original Elixir, an all-natural marinade or a topping for ice cream and other sweets.

Saffron's complex chemistry includes more than 150 volatile and aroma-yielding compounds.

It is saffron's aroma, of course, that makes poets sing and food lovers sigh.

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