Saffron also is known as Kesar or zafran in India is the world’s costliest spice. It has a variety of names in different parts of India. It is called as kumkum puvvu in Telugu, kumguma poo in Tamil. This is widely used as a spice and medicine. Saffron is derived from Crocus sativus flower. To prepare 450 grams of saffron, it takes about 75,000 saffron flowers. This is the only reason that makes this spice the costliest. Since ancient times, especially in India, saffron consumption and pregnancy are closely related because of a number of reasons. Hence, one general advice that a pregnant woman receives is to incorporate saffron into her pregnancy diet. It is regarded as one of the vital ingredients that help in solving various problems in the pregnancy period of the women. Saffron also acts as a muscle relaxant during her critical days.
Is Saffron Safe to Have During Pregnancy?
Yes, it is very safe and beneficial to take saffron during pregnancy. There is a myth saying that taking of saffron with milk during pregnancy produces fairer babies in this fairness obsessive world. But, excessive intake may result in undesired complications and may even pave the way for an unfortunate miscarriage. Limited intake of saffron is advisable. Also, consult your doctor before taking saffron.
Health Benefits of Saffron During Pregnancy:
Ayurveda suggests that the right amount of saffron incorporation facilitates any inconveniences during pregnancy. Below are a few facts about saffron that will help pregnant women.
1. Controls Hypertension:
High blood pressure is one of the common issues encountered during pregnancy. Elevated blood pressure is a threat to both mother and the unborn baby. It is scientifically proven that potassium and crocetin in Saffron help in controlling the blood pressure.
2. Relieves Morning Sickness:
Saffron can do wonders for morning sickness as it helps in getting rid of dizziness and nausea.
3. Fights Allergy:
During pregnancy, the body of the mother focuses on the unborn baby. As such, the immunity of the expectant mother goes down, and she may have to battle frequent bouts of congestions, coughs, and colds. Drinking saffron milk daily can help to alleviate such allergies.
4. Increases Iron level:
Pregnant women have to consume iron in good quantities which will not only help them recover from cramps and pain but also feed the unborn baby to nurture and grow in an environment which is conducive. Saffron is considered to be a good source of iron that helps in enhancing haemoglobin levels too.
5. Improves Digestion:
Improper digestion is one of the most common pregnancy grievances. Be it bloating, heartburn, constipation – saffron enhances metabolism and helps in improving digestion. Regular consumption of saffron even helps to soothe the gastrointestinal acidity by forming a coating on the inner wall of the intestine.
6. Enhances appetite:
During pregnancy, nutrition is a must. However, it is said that the usual extent of appetite drops during pregnancy, and thus, the expectant mother tends to eat less than the regular meal. This can make the body to enter the starvation mode that will trigger malnutrition. Saffron increases appetite as it boosts the digestive functions and thus, enables you to win over these threats.
7. Helps in Preventing Pregnancy-related Hair Fall:
The hormonal imbalances that occur during pregnancy can affect hair growth. Hair fall is the main complaint from a pregnant woman. Saffron helps in reducing the intensity of the pregnancy linked hair fall. Making a fine paste with a couple of Saffron strands, milk, and licorice and applying this paste on the scalp helps in preventing the hair fall and stimulates hair regrowth.
8. Helps in Elevating Mood:
Most women experience mood swings during pregnancy due to hormonal fluctuations or anxiety about the progress of the pregnancy. In most of the cases, these mood swings make you prone to depressions, irritations and make you impulsive. Saffron acts as an anti-depressant, and its daily consumption will help to improve your mood and makes you feel happy.
9. Relieves Muscle Cramps:
When the third-trimester kicks in, the pregnant lady complains about severe muscle cramps in the abdomen and legs. She may also experience joint pains. Saffron has an anti-spasmodic property which helps in relaxing the joints by reducing the contractions in the leg and abdominal muscles which relieves the muscle cramps.
10. Helps Prevent Iron Deficiency:
Sometimes, the diet of a pregnant woman fails to meet the required demand for iron. As a result of this, pregnant women are more prone to iron-deficient anemia. Intake of saffron regularly (in the recommended quantity) can help in preventing iron deficiency anaemia as it is a rich source of iron.
11. Helps Restore the skin appearance:
In the majority of cases, pregnant women suffer from skin ailments. The skin glow is lost, and thus, their appearance gets diminished significantly. To restore the skin glow, you can include saffron in the face packs.
12. Get a good night sleep:
Pregnant women often have this problem of sleepless nights. This is because of the cramps, pain, and feeling of restlessness. Some studies suggested that having one glass of milk before going to bed can help in undisturbed and good night sleep for a pregnant lady. Milk, in addition to saffron in it, can act as a mild sedative that helps in relaxing the mind and decreasing the anxiety.
When to Consume Saffron and The Dosage:
During pregnancy, you can start taking the recommended dose of saffron at any time. However, it is advisable to take saffron from the second trimester. In fact, the second trimester is said to be the time when the pregnancy is considered stable, and also the initial discomforts of morning sickness and nausea also provide some relief. A study suggests including saffron in the menu from the moment the mother starts to know the movement of the baby (around the 23rd week). The reason behind this is, the first trimester is not a good time to experiment with new stuff in your daily meal. You can have a glass of saffron milk for breakfast and during the night. Some pregnant women also add a few strands of saffron to their meals. Sweets like phrini and kheer are usually infused with a few saffron strands, and so are biryanis and lassis.
More than advisable quantities of saffron can bring about different complications in due course of pregnancy. The suggested dosage is less than 250 mg per day (overall used in milk, food, and desserts). Listed below are some of the adverse effects of consuming saffron more than the suggested dosage are –
- Consuming 500 mg saffron per day can adversely affect your blood pressure. In case you are experiencing low blood pressure, watch out for the amount of saffron you are intaking and always keep it below 250mg.
- Intake of 2 grams of saffron per day can initiate uterine contraction and thereby causing miscarriage and preterm labor.
How to Incorporating Kesar in Pregnancy Diet:
- Take a glass of milk in a bowl and boil.
- Now add 2 to three strands of saffron, chopped almonds and add simmer on low flame for 5-6 minutes.
- You can also add other nuts like a dash of cardamom, and pistachios. The flavor will get infused, and the color of the milk will turn yellowish.
- Add 2-3 crystals sugar for sweetness.
- Pour it into a glass. Your saffron milk is ready.
Side Effects of Saffron During Pregnancy:
Even though saffron is highly beneficial in the course of pregnancy, consumption of excessive amounts of saffron may lead to some serious side effects as well. The most widely known side effects are:
1. Risk of miscarriage:
Saffron increases the body heat of the mother, which might lead to miscarriage. Saffron, if consumed excessively, triggers uterine contractions, which can lead to miscarriage.
Some pregnant women may experience nausea, dry mouth, headaches, and anxiety after consuming saffron, and this indicates an allergic reaction to saffron. Bleeding from the nose and numbness of eyelids and lips is the sign of severe allergic complication.
Vomiting is one of the worst side effects of saffron. During vomiting, the body loses water resulting in dehydration, loss of certain vital nutrients, which results in giddiness and tiredness.
Tips and Precautions to Use and Store Saffron:
- Saffron has the ability to stimulate uterine contractions, and hence pregnant women should restrict the intake of saffron to 250mg per day.
- Saffron should always be purchased from a reputable source that observes stringent quality procedures and industry-accepted good manufacturing practices.
- Since saffron is costly, it is mostly found in the adulterated form. Hence package labelling should be checked carefully before purchasing. Always check for the ISO label on the package before purchasing.
- Select saffron that is dark and deep red. The darker the color, the more beneficial and aromatic the spice is.
- Saffron in the market is available in powder form as well as in threads. It is suggested to always go for the threads so that you can make sure of its quality.
- Never ever purchase saffron which is loosely sold.
- To store the saffron, wrap the saffron threads in the aluminium foil and place it in an airtight container and store in a cool place.
Packed with multiple benefits, saffron is a beneficial addition to your pregnancy diet. However, make sure you are not consuming it in large quantities. And the bottom line is if you consume saffron moderately and with your gynecologist’s advice, it will turn to be the best thing to have during pregnancy with tremendous benefits for mom and the baby.
Disclaimer: Please be advised that all the information in this article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not meant to be construed nor is a substitute for medical advice. If you want to include saffron in your diet during pregnancy, make sure you pay a visit to your doctor for proper information about it.
Frequently Asked Questions and Answers:
Q1. Is it safe to take saffron directly during pregnancy?
Ans: No. Taking saffron directly may cause you vomiting. Try taking it with milk.
Q2. Drinking saffron milk during pregnancy produces fairer babies. Is it true?
Ans: No, not at all. Drinking saffron milk does not produce fairer babies. It is a myth which was being carried from ancient times. The color of the baby depends on the mother and father and the melanin content in the skin.
Q3. When can I take saffron during my pregnancy?
Ans: It is advisable to take saffron milk in the second trimester.
Q4. Which is a better saffron powder or saffron threads?
Ans: Saffron threads are generally safer than powder because there may be chances of the powder being adulterated.
Q5. Which is the best saffron brand to use in pregnancy?
Ans: Generally, the products which have ISO certified should be chosen. Some of the brands are Shalimar brand Saffron, Premium Kashmiri Saffron, IKS (Indian Kashmiri Saffron).