" Blog da Horta Biológica: 3 Types of Saffron?!

3 Types of Saffron?!


Yes, it's true! When researching ways to fight Alzheimer's disease, we found that there're 3 types of saffron. Some of our relatives suffered from Alzheimer's, so we decided to look for foods that help protect the brain as naturally as possible. Although heredity of Alzheimer's disease is questioned, what is unquestionable is the fact that the incidence of this disease is increasing.

We've always heard that usage of saffron is related to the low incidence rate of Alzheimer's in India. The numbers are indeed impressive, because India has more than 1 billion inhabitants and epidemiological studies carried out between 1994-2000 revealed that the prevalence of dementia above 65 years of age had an average rate of 1,3% while in Europe the average was 9,4%. What a difference!

Although there's no strong scientific basis, it is believed that this low incidence might be related to food, more specifically to saffron, an ingredient used in many dishes in that country.


When we searched for more information about saffron (which we thought was "one of a kind") we discovered that there was more than one! Now what?! Which one should we go for?!

Before we speak of each one, let us say that saffron is a spice very much appreciated since the Ancient Egypt and throughout history its price has always been (and still is) very high. Because of this, other plants with similar characteristics began to be named after saffron as well. Although we've found 3, it is likely that there may be other species.

And the 3 species are...


Carthamus tinctorius L.

Foto: Wikipedia

This plant is native to Iran, India and Africa. It was brought from India to Portugal at the time of the discoveries along with other spices. It belongs to de family Asteraceae, the same as Marigolds and Daisies. Its common name is Safflower. 

The flowers, seeds, and oil of this plant have various medicinal, gastronomic, and cosmetic applications. Despite its properties, this is not the plant that's been associated to good results in the prevention of Alzheimer's disease.

So we kept searching...


Crocus sativus L.

Foto: KENPEI - CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia


This plant is the real saffron. It is native to India, but was introduced in Portugal by the Arabs in the 9th century. Saffron is extracted from the red stigmas of the flower and its yield is very low, which makes saffron the most expensive spice in the world. To give you an idea, the average price of saffron in international markets varies between €1000 and €3000 per kg. The saffron we buy at the supermarket is not extracted from this plant, because with these prices 1g could cost between €10 and €30...or even more!

This plant belongs to the family Iridaceae, the same as the Gladiolus, and its common names are saffron-crocus or autumn-crocus. The real saffron also has several medicinal uses because of its properties that help fight cholesterol, abdominal pain, memory loss, depression and even tumors. However, this is not the plant associated to low levels of dementia.

We searched a little bit more and found the third type of saffron...


Curcuma longa L.  

Foto: H. Zell - CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikipedia


Known as Turmeric, this plant is native to India and other countries in South Asia and belongs to the family Zingiberaceae, the same as ginger.

This plant has a component called Curcumin, which is associated to the low rate of Alzheimer's incidence in India. 

We finally found what we were looking for!! Yeah!! And the best thing is that turmeric powder...or saffron can be extracted at home without great difficulties or expenses. 

Get to know the benefits of this plant that seems to be miraculous.


Turmeric Benefits

Turmeric, most specifically its component Curcumin, has countless benefits. Up to now, scientific studies have shown the following results: 

  • Decrease of dementia incidence
  • Reduction of cholesterol
  • Prevention of serious infections
  • Protection and treatment of disorders of digestive system
  • Weight stabilization
  • Blood fluidity
  • Balance of blood sugar levels


Curcumin has anti-inflamatory, antioxidant, antibacterial and anti-tumor properties. For all these properties it is indicated in the prevention and treatment of various diseases such as diabetes, Alzheimer's, carcinomas, arthritis and other chronic diseases.

Of course, each body reacts differently, which means that properties of turmeric can have amazing effects on some people and few results on others. Anyway, the benefits are huge and it's worth trying!

The image above shows the flower, but it's the rhizomes (or roots) of the plant that are used to extract the powder. You can see the rhizomes in the image below.




Do you want to know how to make turmeric powder at home? See here: How to make turmeric powder...or saffron

Our readers have been asking where to buy turmeric powder or the rhizomes. In fact, they are not easy to find, especially for people who don't live in big cities with easy access to all kinds of products. We buy online for it is easier to find bigger quantities at lower prices. Here are the products that we buy and recommend for their high quality.



















We hope this post has helped you as much as it helped us to find at least one way to prevent Alzheimer's disease and, hopefully, be healthier and have more quality of life, now and always.  


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