July 10, 2023

Safranal content in saffron

Saffron, scientifically known as Crocus sativus L. (Iridaceae), is a plant that contains over 150 volatile compounds known for their aromatic properties, primarily terpenes, terpene alcohols, and their esters. The presence of the chemicals picrocrocin and safranal in saffron is responsible for its bitter taste and distinct iodiform or hay-like fragrance.

Among the volatile compounds found in saffron essential oil, safranal takes the lead, comprising approximately 60-70% of the volatile fraction. This compound plays a key role in creating the characteristic aroma associated with saffron.

Safranal is considered a byproduct of the degradation process of zeaxanthin, formed through a pathway in which picrocrocin acts as an intermediary. It possesses a molar mass of 150.21 g/mol and a chemical formula of C10H14O, classifying it as a monoterpene glycoside.

Safranal demonstrates notable antioxidant potential and has shown promise as a therapeutic agent for diseases resulting from oxidative stress.

Various techniques, including steam distillation, micro-steam distillation extraction, and vacuum headspace methods, have been employed to isolate safranal. Further identification of the different volatile components has been achieved using Gas Chromatography/Mass Spectrometry (GC-MS).
Safranal content in saffron

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