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When Olly announced their new saffron gummy, it blew our little minds.
First of all, isn’t Saffron just a fancy spice? And second of all, now it’s in a gummy?
But we’re not ashamed to admit that we’re actually just a little late to the party, because as it turns out, Nature’s Bounty, the no-frills grocery store staple, had already launched their saffron-based Stress Comfort gummy in the summer of 2020.
(Which came just in the nick of time, because let’s be honest, if there was a supplement 2020 needed, it was a saffron-hued stress comfort gummy.)
Saffron as an idea conjures dreamy, ancient beauty rituals and exotic aromas, but saffron landing in a gummy to support our stress, and not just our rice, was a novel and thrilling idea.
So we immediately got our hands on both of these gummies as quickly as possible.
As we mentioned in our review for Olly’s Hello Happy, saffron has a long history with being used in the hopes of improving “melancholy,” and there have been recent studies indicating that saffron can help modulate neurotransmitter levels, which basically means our dopamine and serotonin also get to take a Cleopatra-inspired, luxurious saffron bath.
Let’s talk ingredients!
What’s in Stress Comfort Gummies?
In addition to saffron (all hail, the antioxidant aphrodisiac), these gummies contain the scientific-sounding yet funny-sounding acronym GABA, as well as the dreamy-sounding Lemon Balm. Just hearing the name “lemon balm” alone comforts us already.
GABA, or gamma-Aminobutyric acid, is an amino acid that also acts as a neurotransmitter. We fell in love with GABA while taking Olly’s Goodbye Stress, and have been on the hunt for more gummies with it ever since.
Basically GABA acts as an inhibitor to nervous energy in the brain, potentially improving your mood and even reducing PMS symptoms!
The body does naturally produce GABA, and vigorous exercise can help boost levels, but unless you’re pounding a ton of kimchi and tempeh on the reg (fermented foods help increase GABA levels), you’re probably not getting it from your diet. If you’re like us, that’s our cue to pop a gummy.
Lemon Balm is an herb that can help support relaxation, and in our experience at least, it’s one of the best herbal calm-inducers out there. It shows up in a lot of gummies, from Olly’s Goodbye Stress to Charlotte’s Web Calm Gummies, and it’s definitely one of our favorite gummy ingredients.
So this trifecta of saffron, GABA, and Lemon Balm is pretty exquisite. We can almost feel the stress melting away when we read the ingredient label.
“Contains Bio-Engineered Food Ingredients”
We saw this disclaimer on the side of our bottle and alarm bells went off in our minds. The definition of a bio-engineered food ingredient is as follows:
“a food that contains genetic material that has been modified through in vitro rDNA techniques and for which the modification could not otherwise be obtained through conventional breeding or found in nature.”
Now we’re not saying that this is a disaster and to toss the bottle in the trash immediately. There isn’t yet generally-accepted evidence one way or another regarding the long term effects of GMOs on our health.
But we do think it’s an important piece of the nutrition puzzle to keep track of, and are glad that as of 2019, companies are required to use this label if their product contains genetically modified ingredients.
We try and focus on food and supplements with non-GMO ingredients, in large part because it’s often not clear exactly which ingredients are genetically modified, and that makes it difficult to research what any potential downsides might be.
Plus, our personal preference is to keep things as wholesome and organic as possible: if the product has been genetically altered we’ll be a bit circumspect. If there’s a non-GMO alternative, that’s what we’ll spring for.
We reached out to Nature’s Bounty to get more information, and to ask if they could let us know specifically what ingredients in this gummy were GMO.
We haven’t heard back from them yet, but if and when we do, we’ll update it here!
The smell of these gummies is actually mostly the classic artificial cherry of so many over-the-counter supplements of yore.
While the Olly gummies smell like saffron but taste nothing like it, the Stress Comfort gummies are essentially the opposite. These smell nothing like saffron, but give a full saffron explosion in your mouth.
The rich, honey flavors of Saffron are apparent on the palate. These taste lush and rich. We don’t consider Nature’s Bounty to be the most prestige brand on the block, but these gummies genuinely taste fancy.
We love what they did here. The saffron’s herbal and nutty notes are in full splendor here. It almost tastes like potpourri. In a good way.
The saffron harmonizes with the “wild berry” flavoring to deliver a juicy and ripe flavor that’s both rich candy and honeyed herb.
Do these actually comfort stress?
If the “bio-engineered” moniker gives you some anxiety, don’t worry, these’ll knock that right out. (For a bit anyway. Then it’ll probably come back.)
Where the Olly Hello Happy gummies are buoyant and bouncy, a chipper boost of sunshine for your mood, the Stress Comfort gummies are the grown-up Saffron Gummies, a warm milk bath for your mind, giving you a sumptuous, subtle vibe check.
The trifecta of Saffron, GABA and Lemon Balm are definitely leaving it all on the dance floor, giving their all to imbue your day with some love and light. We absolutely noticed an effect taking these.
We find that these work even if we’re just taking them occasionally, but if we take them consistently, these help to maintain a calm baseline, keeping those moody dips at bay.*
We enjoy taking these a lot! We just hate that we have a nagging feeling that these aren’t the highest quality ingredients, not just because of the GMO part, but these are not organic or vegan either. Gelatin is used instead of the vegan-friendly pectin.
We’re not exactly sure that “Nature” is what’s most bountiful here. (To be fair, it’s not like Olly is an organic poster child either, if by this point you’re more inclined towards the Hello Happy.)
But for now, at least, these will definitely do the trick.
We’re looking at you, Garden of Life or MegaFood, to give us the organic Saffron experience of our hippie dreams.