Saffron – The Spice That Makes You Smile

The gentle waft of simmering bouillabaisse certainly puts a smile on my face. But the delightful aroma and taste isn’t the only reason this dish can make you feel happy. In fact, one key ingredient could have as much mood-boosting benefits as a common anti-depressant.

Earlier research pointed to saffron, an ingredient in bouillabaisse, as a potential anti-depressant. And new research published in the journal Progress in Neuropsychopharmacology and Biological Psychiatry confirms this pricey spice’s ability to alleviate the doldrums.

In the eight-week study, researchers compared saffron’s anti-depressant activity to fluoxetine (the generic name for Prozac). Forty adults, meeting the criteria for major depression, participated. Group 1 patients received a capsule filled with 15 mg of saffron (C. sativus) morning and evening. Group 2 received 10 mg of fluoxetine morning and evening. At the end of the trial, researchers found that saffron had the same mood-boosting benefits as the drug.

So how much is 15 mg of saffron, anyway? That’s less than a tenth of a teaspoon. Most saffron is sold by the gram, at about $15.

While you can season your paella or bouillabaisse with saffron, a good way to make this spice a mood-lifting mainstay in your diet is to mix it right into your favorite organic, chicken-based pre-made soups. Or brew a cup of Spicy Saffron Tea. Just add one teaspoon of saffron, four crushed cardamom pods, and three teaspoons of erythritol to four cups of boiling water. Steep for 20 minutes. Enjoy.

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