Alfalfa Grass: Health Benefits and Nutrition
Medicago sativa, more commonly known as alfalfa or lucerne, is a plant species that has been used to feed livestock for centuries. Alfalfa is a member of the legume group, but it’s also recognized as an herb. Unlike most herbs, alfalfa is known for its higher content of minerals, vitamins and protein.
Alfalfa originates from Asia, however it has been grown by multiple cultures across the world. Besides being used as fodder, alfalfa also has an extended history of use as a therapeutic herb for people. Its dried petals can be eaten as a supplement and are in the form of alfalfa sprouts. Let’s l explore this healthy, nutrient-packed herb.
What Is Alfalfa Grass?
The name alfalfa means “father of all foods.” A fitting name for a potent plant! Alfalfa grass’s high content of vitamins and minerals provides health advantages to anyone consuming it. Each vitamin and mineral has its own unique benefits that can assist the human body. Why is alfalfa grass one of the most nutrient rich foods? The plant has deep roots that supply it with an assemblage of potent nutrients.
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant. A two-ounce serving of alfalfa juice contains roughly 13.5mg of vitamin C, which offers about 15% of the daily intake for men and 18% for women.
Thiamine, or vitamin B1, also plays a significant role in supporting the well-being of the body. Two ounces of alfalfa juice supply you with about 0.125mg of thiamine, which is about 11% of the recommended daily intake for most adults.
Magnesium is vital for many bodily functions, and alfalfa provides a considerable amount of it. Two ounces of alfalfa juice provide 45mg of magnesium, about 14% of the recommended daily intake for adult women, and almost 11% for adult men.
Alfalfa Grass Nutrition Facts
Alfalfa sprouts contain the same nutrients and are very low in calories. One cup of alfalfa sprouts contains a mere 8 calories. It also contains the following:
- Calories: 8
- Protein: 1.3g
- Sodium: 2mg
- Potassium: 26mg
- Vitamin A: 1%
- Vitamin C: 4.5%
- Iron: 1.8%
Alfalfa Health Benefits
Alfalfa has been used for several years as a medicine many ailments including:
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Kidney conditions
- Bladder and prostate issues
However, the list doesn’t end at that. Here are more benefits linked to the therapeutic plant.
May Help Lower Cholesterol
Alfalfa’s cholesterol-lowering ability is the most notable health benefit associated with the plant. One study discovered that eating 40 grams of alfalfa seeds 3 times a day reduced cholesterol by 17% and LDL cholesterol by 18% after about 8 weeks.
This effect is ascribed to the plant’s high content of saponins, which are plant compounds prized to reduce cholesterol levels. The plant does this by lowering the absorption of cholesterol and increasing the elimination of compounds used to produce new cholesterol. Although human experiments are too small to be decisive, alfalfa shows signs as a potential treatment for high cholesterol.
May Promote Metabolic Health
A recent study in diabetic mice discovered that alfalfa essence could potentially lower blood sugar levels by extending the discharge of insulin from the pancreas. These results support the effectiveness of alfalfa as an anti-diabetic agent and promoter of metabolic health.
May Alleviating Menopause Symptoms
Alfalfa is high in compounds called phytoestrogens, which are chemically identical to the hormone estrogen. This means they can produce similar effects in the body as estrogen.
Although the effects of alfalfa on menopausal symptoms have not been largely studied, phytoestrogens may have some benefits worth considering. Some of these benefits include alleviating menopausal signs that are induced by lowered levels of estrogen. Furthermore, a study of breast cancer survivors discovered that women who regularly consumed alfalfa had less sleep-related problems.
Rich in Antioxidant
Alfalfa has a protracted history of use as medicine to treat ailments induced by inflammation and oxidative stress. This is associated with alfalfa’s ability to act as a potent antioxidant, counteracting damage generated by free radicals.
One study in mice found that treatment with alfalfa could help decrease the harm induced by strokes. Although human studies are still needed to confirm these benefits, the potential for alfalfa to be a reliable remedy for people who suffer from brain injuries is there.
How to Add Alfalfa to Your Diet
Alfalfa supplements come in many forms; alfalfa powder, alfalfa tablets, alfalfa juice, and alfalfa tea. Because conclusive, human studies on alfalfa seeds or extract are somewhat lacking, it’s difficult to suggest an effective dose.
The most popular way to incorporate alfalfa into your regimen is by consuming it as sprouts. There are a few ways you can add alfalfa sprouts to your diet, such as putting it in a sandwich or adding it into a salad.
Growing Alfalfa Sprouts at Home
- Add 2 tablespoons of alfalfa seeds to a big jar and pour in 2–3 times the amount of cool water.
- Leave them in the water for about 9–11 hours.
- Remove the water and rinse the sprouts thoroughly with cool water. Drain them one more time.
- Store the sprouts at room temperature, in a drainable container, for 2-3 days and repeat the rinse and drain process every 8 hours.
- Day 4: Replace the sprouts to an area less obscure to allow photosynthesis to happen. Repeat rinse and drain for another day.
- Day 5 or 6: They are ready to eat.
Alfalfa grass is one of the richest foods known to humanity. It has deep roots that provide it with an extended spectrum of essential nutrients. It’s easy to understand why alfalfa juice is a popular beverage. From promoting metabolic health to lowering cholesterol, the plant boasts several health benefits that are sure to make a positive difference in people’s lives.
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