Saffron contains plant-derived compounds known to have anti-oxidant, disease-preventing and health-promoting properties. Saffron threads have essential volatile oils but the most important is safranal, which gives saffron its distinct hay-like flavor. Other saffron oils include: cineole, phenethenol, pinene, borneol, geraniol, limonene, p-cymene, linalool, terpinen-4-oil.
It has many non-volatile active components, including α-crocin, a carotenoid compound, which gives the stigmas their characteristic golden yellow color. It also contains other carotenoids including zeaxanthin, lycopene, α- and β-carotenes. These are important antioxidants that helps protect body from oxidant-induced stress, cancers, infections and acts as immune modulators.