Knowledge: Saffron Yellow (Crocus sativus)

Saffron Yellow (Crocus sativus)

Among all the other spices, saffron is the most expensive species in the world – costing about 500 to 5000 USD per pound (450 grams).

Why it is so expensive? Because its harvesting method is labor-intensive!

How is saffron is harvested? Saffron is handpicked by hand from Crocus sativus flower, a.k.a “saffron crocus”. The name of “saffron” means the stigma or the thread-like structure of the flowers.

1 pound = 200,000 saffron stigmas = 70,000 crocus flowers (approx. 19 hours)

Saffron is originated from Iran, some argue that it is from Greece and Mesopotamia. Saffron crocus slowly propagated throughout much of Eurasia and was later brought to parts of North America and Oceania.

Saffron flower has a unique taste, it has an metallic honey with grassy and hay-like fragrance. It contributes a luminous yellow-orange colouring to foods. Saffron is widely used in Persian, Indian, European and Arab cuisines, in dishes of jewelled rice, risotto, paella, biryani and more.

Other than that, saffron has a long history of use in traditional medicine, particularly used for enhancement of libido, mood boosting and improve memory.

Grades and ISO 3632 categories
Saffron is not all of same quality and strength (related to several factors like the amount of style picked along with the red stigma, age of saffron)

Red threads and yellow styles from Iran

  • “sargrol”- red stigma tips only, strongest grade
  • “pushali”- red stigma tips plus some yellow style, lower strength
  • “bunch”- red stigma plus large amount of yellow style
  • “konge”- yellow style only, very little aroma

High quality red threads from Austrian Saffron

  • “coupe” – strongest grade
  • “mancha”- general/high quality Spanish-grown saffron
  • “rio”
  • “standard”
  • “sierra”

Kashmiri saffron package

  • Imported Iranian saffron is mixed with local saffron and sold as “Kashmir brand” at a higher price
  • In Kashmir, saffron is mostly classified into two main categories called “mongra”-stigma alone and “lachha”-stigmas attached with parts of the style.

Grading under ISO 3632
ISO 3632 deals exclusively with saffron and establishes three categories: III (poorest quality), II, and I (finest quality).

We provide practical, easy & consistent on food processing application.

Fresh natural flavor extract powder for Bakery & Beverage.

Vegan, Non-GMO, No Fillers, No Flavors, No Additives, No Artificial Colors, Soy and Gluten Free, Lab Tested for Authentic & Active Compound

Taste = picrocrocin
Fragrance and aroma = safranal

Carotenoid pigment = crocin (imparts a rich golden-yellow hue to dishes and textiles)

High Standard Product Quality Control​


Eyesight improvement

Randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled crossover trial
Subject Adults with mild/moderate AMD and vision > 20/70 of Snellen equivalent in at least one eye (n = 100)
  1. Placebo
  2. Saffron supplementation
Duration 6 months
Dosage Oral saffron supplementation (20 mg/day)
Parameters Analyzed Complete ophthalmic examination
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • Oral saffron supplementation modestly assists in preserving retinal function in participants with AMD, and this benefit appears to extend to participants already consuming current best-practice therapy (beta-carotene free AREDS supplementation)

Table 1: mfERG (multifocal electroretinogram) results seen with saffron supplementation. There was a trend toward improved mean pooled mfERG response density (2.1% improvement) whilst on saffron compared to placebo (p = 0.08).

**greater response = better retina function

Functions Saffron supplementation modestly improved visual function in participants with AMD, including those using AREDS supplements. Given the chronic nature of AMD, longer-term supplementation may produce greater benefits.

Neuroprotective and Anti-Inflammatory Effects

In vivo mice experiment
Subject Male Swiss albino mice, aged 12-16 weeks (40-45 g)
  1. Control (NG)
  2. Lasered groups (LG)
  3. Saffron control group
  4. Lasered + saffron groups (SLG)
Duration Oral administered during the 15 days before laser induction
Dosage 60 mg/kg body weight per day (oral gavage)
Parameters analyzed Immunohistochemistry and retina analysis
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • Treatment with saffron extract decreased microglion numbers and morphological signs of their activation, including soma size and process retraction, both in OHT and in contralateral eyes.
  • Oral administration of saffron extract was able to decrease the neuroinflammation associated with increased intraocular pressure, preventing retinal ganglion cell death.

Figure 1: Saffron extract protected RGCs (Retinal Ganglion Cells) against damage produced by laser-induced OHT (Ocular hypertension)

Functions Saffron extract may exert a protective effect in glaucomatous pathology.

Anti-obesity properties

Randomized, double-blind, and placebo-controlled trial
Subject Coronary artery disease (CAD) patients (aged 40-65 years old)
  1. Placebo (30 mg)
  2. Daily supplement of 30 mg saffron aqueous extract
  3. Daily supplement of 30 mg crocin
Duration 8 weeks
Dosage 30 mg saffron aqueous extract (SAE) or 30 mg crocin
Parameters analyzed Appetite, dietary intake, anthropometry, body composition, biochemical analysis (Before and After)
Outcomes Table 1: Anthropometric and body composition measurements in study groups

Differences between week 0 and week 8
Variable Saffron SAE (n=25) Crocin (n=25) Placebo (n=25)
Body weight, kg -2.31 -0.89 0.04
BMI, kg/㎡ -0.79 -0.29 0.03
Waist, cm -2.32 -1.42 0.29
Fat % -1.02 -0.71 -0.07
FFM, kg -0.76 -0.07 0.08


Table 2: Fasting blood glucose and lipid profiles in study groups.

Differences between week 0 and week 8
Variable Saffron SAE (n=25) Crocin (n=25) Placebo (n=25)
FBS (mg/dL) -6.40 -5.47 -1.79
Triglycerides (mg/dL) -7.00 9.95 7.85
Total Cholesterol (mg/dL) -4.60 5.84 8.26
HDL-C (mg/dL) 3.35 2.00 -0.37
LDL-C (mg/dL) -4.90 1.89 5.31
VLDL, (mg/dL) -1.45 1.74 1.42


Table 3: Energy, dietary intake, and appetite parameters in study groups.

Differences between week 0 and week 8
Variable Saffron SAE (n=25) Crocin (n=25) Placebo (n=25)
Energy (kcal/d) -170.44 -82.51 -13.92
Carbohydrate (g/d) -27.69 -13.75 -1.90
Protein (g/d) -7.79 -2.32 -0.37
Total fat (g/d) -3.17 -2.69 -1.24
Feelings of fullness 3.28 1.36 0.68
Feelings of satiety 3.48 1.92 -0.04
Feelings of hunger -3.32 -1.48 -0.08
Functions Saffron and its bioactive compounds (crocin and crocetin) can modify some of metabolic disorders through multiple mechanisms, by suppressing appetite, reducing dietary intake and central obesity.

Treat depression

Meta-analysis of several randomized controlled trials
Subject Adults (aged 18 and older) with symptoms of depression
  1. Placebo
  2. Saffron supplementation
Duration 6-8 weeks
Dosage 30mg/day
Parameters analyzed Depressive symptoms
Outcomes Visible benefits

  • Saffron supplementation significantly reduced depression symptoms compared to the placebo control condition.
  • It is also found that saffron supplementation vs. the antidepressant groups (M ES = −0.15) indicating that both treatments were similarly effective in reducing depression symptoms.

Table 1: Summary of clinical trials of saffron supplementation on patients with major depression.

Functions Findings from clinical trials conducted to date indicate that saffron supplementation can improve symptoms of depression in adults with MDD.

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