“They Call Me Mellow Yellow”

I’m just wild about saffron….they call me Mellow Yellow….remember that one?

Learning something new every day, I just looked up saffron. Did you know that saffron threads are the stamens (read ‘boy parts’) of the crocus? There is an average of three threads per flower according to seriouseats.com 150 flowers are needed to make one gram of saffron.

Saffron is already outrageously expensive at $2,000 to $10,000 per pound. However, it would be much more expensive if it were being harvested by people earning a decent wage.

So, if you are not hung up on the human rights issue, or the act of emasculating flowers AND if you have the money, saffron may be an AMD ‘treatment’/ supplement for you. There was a 2010 study suggesting daily, 20 mg doses of saffron may serve as protection against progression of AMD in early stage patients.

It seems that other than taste, saffron does have a few things to help justify that crazy price. Saffron includes antioxidants such as carotene, crocin and crocetin. (Wasn’t it nice of them to credit the plants these things were originally found in? Better than ‘George-in’ or something else after the name of the discoverers!) Antioxidants are good for quenching oxygen species that occur because of exposure to light. Remember oxygen species are chemicals which are the natural byproducts of chemical reactions using oxygen. We have lots and lots of those! However, oxygen species can run amok and cause lots of damage unless ’rounded up’ by antioxidants.

Anyway, Falsini et al proposed that by increasing the level of antioxidant protection with saffron there may be a way to allow damaged but still functional cells to recover. That was what their study was all about.

Now as studies go, this one did not appear to be very robust. There were only 25 people in the whole study, both treatment and control groups. That means only about 13 people got the treatment. I like studies with a larger n. That said, after 90 days of 20 mg of saffron daily, their treatment group did show a short-term, statistically significant effect on retinal functioning in those with early AMD.

Am I suggesting you take saffron pills every day? Absolutely not. Even with ‘cheap’ saffron, the pills they were using should have cost about $1.50 each. Many of you are on a fixed budget and another $10 per week spent on a source of antioxidants like that could be a burden.

Also remember, they found an effect in those with early AMD, no other stages.

What I am suggesting is this: there are dietary sources of antioxidants and a nice meal including saffron is one of them. You can get recipes using saffron on sites such as food.com, allrecipes.com and eatingwell.com just to name three.

It won’t hurt and it might even help.

“They call me Mellow Yellow……”

Next: coming soon!

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