Saffron As a Natural Preservative for Soybean Oil

Jenn Hoskins
29th February, 2024

Saffron As a Natural Preservative for Soybean Oil

Image Source: Natural Science News, 2024

Key Findings

  • In Morocco, saffron stigmas improved soybean oil's resistance to spoilage better than synthetic antioxidants
  • Saffron-treated oils maintained quality over 12 weeks, showing lower levels of spoilage indicators
  • The study suggests saffron is a safer, natural alternative to synthetic antioxidants in food preservation
In the realm of food science, the quest for preserving the quality of edible oils is a significant challenge. Soybean oil, a staple in many kitchens, is prone to oxidation when stored, which can lead to a loss of nutritional value and the development of unpleasant flavors that make it less desirable to consumers. To combat this, antioxidants are used to delay the oxidation process. Historically, synthetic antioxidants have been the go-to solution, but concerns over their potential health risks have led to a search for natural alternatives. The University Ibn Zohr recently conducted a study[1] that investigated the use of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) stigmas as a natural antioxidant to improve the oxidative stability of soybean oil. This research builds upon earlier findings that have highlighted the antioxidant properties of natural plant extracts[2], as well as the rich phytochemical composition of saffron[3], which includes compounds such as crocin, picrocrocin, and safranal known for their health benefits and bioactivity. In this study, saffron stigmas were added to soybean oil at varying concentrations and compared to tocobiol, a commonly used synthetic antioxidant. The quality of the oil was monitored over 12 weeks of accelerated storage at 60°C, a condition that simulates long-term storage and promotes oxidation. Several indicators were measured, including free fatty acids (FFA), peroxide value (PV), anisidine value (p-AV), total oxidation value (TOTOX), and UV extinction coefficients (K232 and K270), which are all parameters that reflect the oil's oxidative state and purity. The results were telling. Oils fortified with saffron stigmas showed a lesser increase in the oxidation indicators compared to those with tocobiol. Specifically, the saffron-treated oils exhibited lower levels of FFA, PV, p-AV, K270, and TOTOX across the storage period. This suggests that saffron not only matched but outperformed the synthetic antioxidant in preserving the oil's quality. Additionally, no significant changes were observed in the fatty acid composition (FA) and iodine value (IV), indicating that the nutritional profile of the oil remained intact. These findings were further substantiated by principal component analysis, which showed strong positive correlations among the various oxidative indicators, confirming the protective effect of saffron. The most critical relationships, with a determination coefficient R2 > 0.9, were modeled through simple regressions, lending robust statistical support to the study's conclusions. The research from University Ibn Zohr aligns with the growing body of evidence supporting the use of natural antioxidants from medicinal and aromatic plants to protect vegetable oils[4]. The advantage of using saffron stigmas, as demonstrated, is two-fold: it not only serves as an effective means to preserve oil quality but also offers a safer alternative to synthetic antioxidants, which aligns with consumer demand for natural food products. In conclusion, the study provides a promising outlook for the use of saffron stigmas as a natural antioxidant in the edible oil industry. This could potentially revolutionize how we approach food preservation and aligns with a broader trend towards natural, health-conscious food production and consumption. The implications of these findings are significant, indicating that saffron, a spice treasured since ancient times[3], may hold the key to naturally extending the shelf life of one of the most widely used cooking oils in the world.



Main Study

1) Valorization of saffron (Crocus sativus L.) stigma as a potential natural antioxidant for soybean (Glycine max L.) oil stabilization.

Published 29th February, 2024

Related Studies

2) Effect of Natural Antioxidants from Marigolds (Tagetes erecta L.) on the Oxidative Stability of Soybean Oil.

3) Phytochemistry, quality control and medicinal uses of Saffron (Crocus sativus L.): an updated review.

4) An Overview on the Use of Extracts from Medicinal and Aromatic Plants to Improve Nutritional Value and Oxidative Stability of Vegetable Oils.

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