Alfalfa is a remarkable superfood, rich in multiple minerals, vitamins, and other bioactive compounds. You'll be surprised how many potential benefits you could gain from including small amounts of alfalfa in your diet.
Various communities use the edible alfalfa to make herbal medicine, a practice that has been around for over 1,500 years. It's superior to most other herbs due to the high content of proteins, minerals, and vitamins.
So, what makes alfalfa a superfood? Let’s find out as we discuss the variety of possible benefits alfalfa can have on our bodies.
What Is Alfalfa? and What Is It Used for?
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa), also called lucerne, is a popular plant cultivated worldwide. It's the most common cultivated forage legume, with farmers producing tons of alfalfa seed sprouts yearly.
Generally, the purpose of cultivating alfalfa is to feed livestock such as horses and cattle. However, some varieties are suitable for human consumption. Some people prefer eating sprouted alfalfa seeds, while others use supplements made from dried leaves or seeds.
Because of its high nutritional content, alfalfa is commonly used as a dietary supplement. The plant is rich in vitamin K, phosphorus, zinc, calcium, and other nutrients that may promote a variety of potential health benefits.
Alfalfa has been used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for a long time as a natural aid for digestive health, water retention, and loss of appetite. Researchers keep finding new ways to use alfalfa, and many people use it for a wide range of advantages.
How Nutritious Is Alfalfa?
Alfalfa is a rich source of vital minerals and vitamins needed to maintain good health. For instance, 100 grams of alfalfa seed sprouts contain the following nutrients:
- Fat: 0.69 g (grams)
- Calories: 23
- Fiber: 1.9 g
- Protein: 3.99 g
- Folate: 36 mcg (micrograms)
- Copper: 0.2 mg, equivalent to 8% of the DV (daily value)
- Phosphorus: 70 mg (milligrams), which is 7% DV
- Riboflavin: 0.1 mg (7% DV)
- Iron: 1 mg (5% DV)
- Manganese: 0.2 mg (9% DV)
- Vitamin K: 30.5 mcg (38% DV)
- Vitamin A: 155 IU (3% DV)
- Vitamin C: 8.3 mg (14% DV)
- Thiamine: 0.1 mg (5% DV)
- Zinc: 0.9 mg (6% DV)
- Carbohydrates: 2.1 g
In addition to these, alfalfa contains various minerals, including carotene, potassium, and calcium. It also contains high amounts of bioactive compounds like alkaloids, phytoestrogens, phytosterols, flavonoids, coumarins, and saponins.
With such high levels of possibly beneficial elements, alfalfa can be a highly potent herb that may help support overall health and wellness.
What Are the Potential Health Benefits of the Superfood Alfalfa?
Alfalfa contains so many nutrients at high levels that it's no wonder this superfood has various possible benefits, including:
1. Assisting with Symptoms of Menstruation
Alfalfa is rich in phytoestrogens and vitamin K, which can help support menstruation symptoms. Phytoestrogens have a similar chemical composition to the hormone estrogen, so they have the same effects on the body. It may also contribute to general reproductive health.
2. Possible Anti-Aging and Antioxidant Effects
Free radicals exist in the environment and in various foods and substances. These radicals harm our bodies because they trigger cell and DNA reactions. Antioxidants make the free radicals less reactive, preventing oxidative stress and cellular damage.
Alfalfa earns the name superfood by boasting remarkable antioxidant properties. Antioxidants are highly effective against inflammation and may help protect cells from damage caused by oxidative stress.
Alfalfa also contains bioactive compounds which can assist in maintaining immune resilience. According to a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, alfalfa may help with balancing vitamin K levels in the body and can offer support for cellular damage that can come with age.
3. May Contribute to Liver Health
Alfalfa extracts can potentially support damaged liver tissue. The compounds in this superfood may help with maintaining the liver’s delicate structures.
Alfalfa may also assist with excess fat deposits that accumulate around the liver while aiding inflammation. The overall result may help to balance liver function.
4. Gut Health Support
Alfalfa sprouts have proteinaceous enzymes that are vital to our bodies, such as invertase, amylases, and lipases. These enzymes promote various biochemical processes and can support the digestive system. For instance, amylase helps the body digest carbohydrates and sugar, while lipase assists with fat digestion.
Alfalfa is rich in dietary fibers that can help with nutrient digestion. Eating alfalfa seeds may help with bowel movements and can aid digestive issues like constipation. Alfalfa may also help promote a more balanced gut by assisting with issues like flatulence, bloating, gas, and acid reflux by neutralizing stomach acidity.
5. Aids in Immune System Health
Alfalfa has fantastic antiviral and antibacterial properties due to saponins. Taking alfalfa can assist in maintaining immune resilience against harmful viruses and bacteria in the body.
Alfalfa also has high levels of vitamin C, which may help support immunity. Vitamin C also enhances the production of immune molecules such as white blood cells.
6. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Alfalfa’s anti-inflammatory properties mainly come from the saponins present. It also contains different bioactive molecules like antioxidants and phytoestrogens that can assist with inflammation. The bioactive molecules present in alfalfa may limit inflammatory substances such as prostaglandin in the body. This can help maintain healthy body functions and contribute to overall wellness.
7. Supports Bone Health
Vitamin K found in alfalfa can help support bone health. Vitamin K allows the body to utilize calcium, fortifying the bones and mitigating fractures. Alfalfa also has the nutrient manganese that may help with inflammation.
How to Include Alfalfa in Your Diet
Alfalfa supplements and extracts are available in various forms and preparations, including:
- Herbal tea
- Dried herbs
Another great way to include alfalfa in your diet is by eating sprouted seeds. You can add sprouts to your salads and sandwiches for a delicious and nutritious meal, any time of day or night.
You can also opt for dried alfalfa tea. Tea may be particularly beneficial because it often releases more minerals and vitamins.
What Are the Possible Side Effects of Alfalfa?
You should consult your doctor to learn more about the side effects of Alfalfa. Though alfalfa is generally considered safe for most people, some could experience possible side effects. Raw alfalfa sprouts contain high amounts of canavanine and saponins.
How Live it Up Could Help
Alfalfa is highly nutritious, with a unique blend of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins and has various properties that may contribute to immune wellness. Alfalfa sprouts have high fiber content, which is an additional possible benefit to the digestive system.
However, raw alfalfa sprouts have a high risk of bacterial contamination due to the environment in which they need to grow. Luckily, Live it Up eliminates many of the challenges people can experience when adding new foods to their diet.
With one easy scoop of our superfood greens powder mixed with water, you can get all the vital nutrients and possible benefits of alfalfa without worrying about storage, preservatives, sugars, and foodborne illnesses.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Alfalfa Help with Acid Reflux?
Alfalfa contains vital proteinaceous enzymes that may support digestion. It also has components that may neutralize stomach acidity, which assists with acid reflux.
Is It Healthy to Eat Raw Alfalfa Sprouts?
Yes, you can eat raw alfalfa sprouts, but it's essential to ensure proper cleaning before you eat them. The sprouts should also grow in a clean environment, free of any bacteria.