Alfalfa – it’s got a funny name, and we mostly associate it with livestock forage, but this simple legume in the pea family of plants is a genuine superfood.
Alfalfa is rich in several vitamins and minerals including potassium, phosphorus, biotin, folic acid, iron, and calcium as well as vitamins A, C, E, all the B vitamins, and vitamin K4 with the addition of a rather large portion of protein for a plant source. However, various isoflavones in alfalfa may offer the most exciting health benefits.
Alfalfa is also known as lucerne and has the scientific moniker of Medicago sativa. It is a flowering, perennial legume favoring warmer climates. Most of the plant is used nutritionally and medicinally, including seeds, leaves, and sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts (easily grown at home and ready to eat in 3-4 days) and alfalfa powder have become the most popular forms for use as a nutritional supplement. However, when growing sprouts always be careful about cleanliness and cross-contamination, as salmonella or e. coli infections are always a concern.
Alfalfa Health Benefits
Those previously mentioned isoflavones perform roles as antioxidants and phytoestrogens within the body, fighting cancer and other bodily damage – with strong indicators in the prevention of breast cancer. However, the best evidence for alfalfa supports the use of alfalfa seeds to lower cholesterol by blocking cholesterol absorption, with a positive effect on total cholesterol and LDL levels. Alfalfa supplements are also used for urinary health, digestive health, diabetes, arthritis, and other health conditions. However, it should be noted that long-time, continuous dietary intake of alfalfa sprouts can cause a lupus-like syndrome.
Continue reading to learn how Earth Clinic readers have used Alfalfa to ease their ailments.