Alfalfa is good for animals and it can also contribute to the healthy well-being of humans. For centuries, alfalfa, is a plant that has been cultivated as a source of feed for livestock because of its exceptional provision of nutrients, minerals and proteins, setting it apart from other feed sources. Its versatility also has made alfalfa a long-time staple as a medicinal herb for people, with its seeds and leaves available in supplement form, although its seeds can also be sprouted and eaten as alfalfa sprouts.
Per healthline.com, alfalfa is loaded with vitamin K as well as a host of other healthy nutrients that include vitamin C, copper, manganese, and folate. Best of all, alfalfa sprouts provide all the same nutrients as alfalfa leaves and, perhaps best of all, they are also very low in calories. Alfalfa is also rich in bioactive compounds, namely saponins, coumarins, flavonoids, phytosterols, phytoestrogens, and alkaloids.
How Does Alfalfa Work, and Where Does It Come From?
Research has shown that alfalfa, when consumed, apparently works to prevent the absorption of cholesterol in your gut, per medicinenet.com. Along with that, it has also been touted for its apparent ability to improve digestion and protect heart health, per organicfacts.net.
A Summary of Alfalfa’s Benefits
Alfalfa in its various forms (leaves, seeds, and sprouts) can provide a number of health benefits, but as widespread as its use is, you should be careful to not overindulge. Excessively consumed alfalfa can produce side effects such as possible inducement of contractions or uterine stimulation if you are pregnant. Also be aware that the interaction of its vitamin K with blood thinners can possibly reducing the effectiveness of such medications. The message here is moderation, and the recommendation is a consultation with your physician or a licensed nutritionist to carefully check out alfalfa and its suitability for you. Now, the purported health benefits:
- Reduce cholesterol. Credit this to alfalfa’s availability of dietary fiber, which, accompanied by saponins, can attach to cholesterol and prevent it from sticking to arterial walls.
- Alleviate menopause symptoms. The phytoestrogens found in alfalfa are chemically similar to the hormone estrogen, per healthline.com, whose levels are decreased during menopause.
- Diminish inflammation. Its high levels of vitamins B and C, as well as calcium and antioxidant compounds, can reduce unwanted inflammation associated with joint pain, making alfalfa useful in the treatment of arthritis, per organicfacts.net.
- Digestive health. Alfalfa’s provision of dietary fiber can help bulk up stools and hasten their movement through the bowels. Also, by reducing inflammation in the gut, it can help relieve symptoms such as indigestion, bloating, and cramping, per organicfacts.net.
- Bolster immune system. The vitamin C from alfalfa can boost the manufacture of white blood cells while also serving as an antioxidant that negates oxidative stress.
- Cleansing and detoxification. Alfalfa’s diuretic characteristics makes it useful in the treatment of kidney conditions, because it can stimulate more frequent urination while accelerating the detoxification of the body in ridding it of excess salts, fats, and water.
- Diabetes control. An animal study, cited at healthline.com, has found alfalfa extract capable of reducing blood sugar levels by boosting the release of insulin from the pancreas.
- Cardiovascular health. The presence of potassium and iron in alfalfa aids the heart in multiple ways. As a vasodilator, potassium can potentially help to reduce blood pressure by decreasing the pressure on blood vessels and arteries, per organicfacts.net. The iron content can increase the production of red blood cells, aiding circulation.