Saffron the common spice used in Indian, Spanish and Italian cuisine (also called the golden spice) has now been found to prevent loss of eye sight in old age, according to a new Australian study.
The researchers at the University of LAquila in Italy, and Sydney University in Australia, found that eating saffron on a daily basis helps in protection against some common forms of blindness, by making the delicate eye cells more resilient against the disease.
The study carried out in animals, confirmed that a diet containing saffron can protect eye from damage caused by bright sunlight, and slow down the progress of genetic diseases such as Retinitis Pigmentosa. The researchers also found that saffron had a beneficial effect in humans suffering from age-related macular degeneration, one of the most common forms of blindness in old age.
The scientists are performing clinical trial on humans with age-related macular degeneration. The lead researcher, Prof. Silvia Bisti, who led the study from the University of L’Aquila, mentioned that Saffron seems to possess several properties that protect vision. Saffron, with its strong anti-oxidant properties, seems to block cell death.
“It also affects genes that regulate the fatty acid content of the cell membrane, and this makes the vision cells more resilient and tougher”, he concluded.
Saffron has several other health benefits too. Apart from its culinary uses, it helps in enhancement of one’s overall well-being, by improving digestion and appetite. It is used in treatment of kidney, bladder and liver disorders, enhances circulation to digestive organs, protects against gastrointestinal colic and acidity, is beneficial in dealing with disorders such as atherosclerosis, asthma, and painful menstrual periods.
Saffron also helps relieve inflammation in arthritis patients by offering relief from joint pains, helps in treating fatigue and muscle inflammation among athletes, and is a mild sedative, and can therefore be used for insomnia and to treat depression. Being an excellent blood purifier, it helps increase the oxygen content of the blood, and helps in overall well-being of a person.