The red stigmas of the purple crocus flower (Crocus sativus) are known as saffron. A large amount of flowers are needed to produce just a little bit of hand-picked saffron, which is why it is quite costly to buy, however it is quite potent and only a few stigmas need to be used to flavour and colour food (yellow). Saffron can help in preventing cancer and cardiovascular disease, and it is mildly sedative making it helpful for insomnia. It can also be good for menstrual disorders, digestion, bloating and flatulence. Saffron promotes antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity in the body, and it can also help to improve memory and learning ability. When dried and stored properly it has a very long shelf life, which can compensate a bit for the pricey-ness of it. It is best to use saffron in cooking to release it's vibrant colour, aroma and flavour. If there is not much liquid in whatever is being cooked, simply infuse the saffron in a little bit of boiled water for a while before adding to the recipe.