It’s been a long-running debate among clinicians that saffron has no significant effect on blood pressure (Haldane, 1994; Cai et al., 2000). Indeed, some studies have shown that saffron significantly decreased high BP (Nelson et al., 1991).
Saffron is used to make a variety of food products, including sausages, biscuits, desserts and spices. When saffron is heated (either in the microwave or on the stove), it converts to oleoresin capsicum (OLC, a plant hormone). OLC (also called the saffronin, or oleoresin capin) has been reported to decrease serum triglyceride levels (Larsson et al., 2003, 2004) and also to decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure in humans (Larsson et al., 2008). It also decreases the total and LDL cholesterol levels (Sutherland et al., 2000b; Jernigan et al., 2003), increases the plasma HDL (the good cholesterol) and significantly decreases the serum total apolipoprotein A (APA): apolipoprotein B (apoB) ratio (Jernigan et al., 2003, 2004), and decreases low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels and blood pressure (Varela et al., 2009). OLC has been shown to alter the lipid profile in humans. For example, after eating a saffron-flavoured breakfast cereal the researchers found that oleoresin capsicum significantly lowered the systolic BP in men by 3/10 and 2/10 mmHg, compared to a placebo (Larsson et al., 2003, 2004). Another study in young men showed that OLC reduced systolic BP by 5/10 mmHg when administered by means of a nasal spray (Varela et al., 2009). In a subsequent study on the same subjects, OLC showed a significant decrease of systolic BP by 9 mmHg, and diastolic BP by a further 3 mmHg. There were however, no statistical differences between the treatment groups in the serum lipid profile (Larsson et al., 2003, 2004). Finally, some studies have shown that saffron reduces the number of LDL particles in the blood and reduces the LDL-C:HDL-C ratio (Kerrigan and Heiney, 1999; van den Berg et al., 2006; Söderlund
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