Weight loss is a common goal among many people all over the world. That is why there is a new ‘super food’ or ‘miracle’ introduced everyday by health and fitness industry. But super foods are not necessarily new. Many of them have been used by different cultures for thousands of years and have been recommended strongly by various traditional medicines. Saffron is one of these super foods which has been around in many countries such as Iran, Greece, Spain, Italy, India and many others. Traditional medicines strongly recommend this powerful spice for health purposes but science is now proving its benefits specifically for Weight loss.
In this article, we look at saffron for its fat burning and weight loss capability. We hope by reading this article you are more enthusiastic to incorporate it in your everyday meals and drinks.
Fat deposit is a natural process in the body for many good reasons. It is energy storage for rainy days and can contain toxics that body has not been able to discharge. It creates hormones necessary for metabolic functions. BUT the percentage of fatty tissue must be proportional to musculoskeletal size of each individual.
Thanks to modern diet and lifestyle, obesity has become a major health concern; causing all types of diseases like metabolic syndrome which leads to diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol. These are life threatening conditions that are seen more in obese people.
Obesity is defined as a body mass index (BMI) greater than 30 by The World Health Organization (WHO). It is suggested that obesity is an inflammation resulted from excess oxidative stress and free radicals. In addition, belly fat is a serious concern for heart health and a sign of diabetes, not to mention undesirable for aesthetic reasons.
Fat burning which will leads to weight loss is the number one goal when it comes to healing metabolic syndrome and reducing inflammation. That is why diets like Keto have become so popular but certain ingredients can help too. Saffron is one such ingredient that can facilitate fat burning process.
As an antioxidant, saffron can help with inflammation and obesity. It is effective in fat burning process which reduces belly fat and waistline. It also enhances glucose uptake and reduces insulin resistance. It can even affect brain and neurotransmitters thus suppressing appetite.
In one study, supplementing with saffron extract, made the subjects eat less. Women who took the extract lost more weight than those who were taking a placebo. These women had no dietary restriction yet had less appetite to snack. Their mood and hormones were more balanced due to increase in serotonin level and their cognitive ability was improved. These positive changes regulated appetite and eliminated compulsive emotional eating resulting in weight loss.
The question is what compounds in saffron cause these desirable changes?!
It contains carotenoids and polyphenols, the antioxidant compounds with powerful effect on oxidative process inside the body. They are able to reduce blood glucose, pressure, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, increase insulin sensitivity, raise energy metabolism and fat oxidation which all help with fat burning and weight management. Research also has revealed that they are capable of inhibiting enzymes for fat metabolism which is mainly pancreatic lipase.
Managing blood glucose alone has greatest impact on weight loss because of insulin level. Insulin is a storage hormone meaning it stores excess glucose as fat immediately after each meal and increases adipose tissue. Considering the presence of high carbohydrate in common diet, the raise in blood glucose and insulin level is constant throughout the day.
This results in constant fat storage and eliminates any chance of using stored fat for energy production. Overtime, body’s ability to burn internal fat weakens and it becomes carb/sugar dependent. But the more glucose is flooded into cells, the less they become sensitive to insulin and start rejecting it, causing high blood glucose. This vicious cycle continues to a diabetic and obesitic degree.
Above mentioned abilities are attributed primarily to crocin (C44H4O24) which is a carotenoid, responsible for unique yellow color of saffron. Crocin is surprisingly water soluble due to its high glycosyl contents. It has high radical scavenging activity meaning it can donate one hydrogen atom to free radicals making them stable and not destructive.
Picrocrocin is another main substance that causes bitter taste and Safranal, a volatile oil creates the distinct aroma. They are also strong antioxidants. In addition to Crocin, picrocrocin and Safranal, saffron contains 150 strong chemicals which influence health in many levels. Vitamins such as riboflavin and thiamine, amino acids and minerals are also found in the spice. By creating a healthier environment in the body, they eliminate the need to over eat and instead they create mental and emotional satisfaction.
In summary, chemicals in saffron cause weigh loss through 4 main mechanisms:
• Reducing calorie consumption by inhibiting fat digestion through pancreatic lipase
• Reducing appetite by increasing feel good neurotransmitters such as serotonin
• Improving glucose and lipid metabolism
• Reducing inflammatory free radicals as an antioxidant
Weight loss for health and beauty purposes is important but in some life threatening conditions it becomes critical. Some natural substances contain chemicals that can help body use stored fat in adipose tissue for energy production and have less appetite to eat constantly. Saffron is such natural factor that has proven effect.
Surprisingly, all above mentioned benefits are gained by consuming a tiny bit of this golden spice that has no calories yet making your meals more aromatic and delicious! Saffron is truly a super food and divine miracle.
Have you tried the world famous Persian saffron?!