Alfalfa sprouts, scientifically known as Medicago sativa, is a legume plant. It is also called lucerne. In India, it is known as Rijka as well. Alfalfa has medicinal properties and may serve as a herbal supplement. Also, another daily use is to feed livestock. Therefore, it has many nutritional properties and health benefits.
It may improve heart, gut, and liver health, boost immunity and increase testosterone in men. Additionally, it has many nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants with health benefits. Therefore, it may be considered a superfood, and you may eat this superfood in the form of sprouts.
Nutritional Value of Alfalfa Sprouts
One hundred grams of alfalfa sprouts contain:
- Calorie: 23 kCal
- Carbohydrates: 2.1 g
- Proteins: 4 g
- Fats: 0.7 g
- Fibre: 1.9 g
- Water: 92.8 g
- Calcium: 32 mg
- Magnesium: 27 mg
- Potassium: 79 mg
- Phosphorus: 70 mg
- Vitamin C: 8.2 mg
Health Benefits of Alfalfa Sprouts
1. Improves Heart Health
Heart diseases are one of the leading causes of death in developed countries. Today’s lifestyle and diet include more unhealthy fats, like LDL cholesterol, building up in arteries and causing various health disorders like atherosclerosis, heart attack and strokes.
A study demonstrates that over the course of two months, patients who took alfalfa seeds three times daily saw improvements in their health. It lowered their LDL cholesterol levels. It is primarily due to saponins, a compound in alfalfa sprouts, which can help reduce cholesterol levels. A lowered LDL may further lead to better blood circulation and heart health.
Saponins neutralise fats and reduce their effectiveness in the body. They also inactivate certain enzymes in the body that synthesise fats. As a result, they help reduce the excess fat quantity in the body. So, you may use alfalfa sprouts to treat and regulate hypercholesterolemia or high cholesterol. Similarly, you may use it to prevent any severe heart conditions.
2. Improves Liver Health
A study suggests that alfalfa extracts help repair damaged liver tissue. They help mend the delicate structures of the liver that help in detoxification. In addition, alfalfa extracts also help remove excess fat deposits around the liver. Furthermore, its anti-inflammatory effects may reduce excess inflammation around the liver. As a result, it helps in better liver functioning.
3. Improves Gut Health
Seed germination of Alfalfa can increase its nutritional value. In addition, soaking these seeds in water may release and activate many metabolites. These metabolites react with the gut microbes to provide health benefits. For example, the consumption of alfalfa sprouts can reduce the risk of IBS and inflammatory bowel disease.
Alfalfa sprouts also contain many proteinaceous enzymes that our body needs. Some of these enzymes include lipases, amylases, and invertase. All these enzymes help in biochemical processes in the body. For example, lipase helps in fat digestion, amylase in carbohydrate digestion, and sugar digestion. In addition, these enzymes help strengthen the digestive system.
Therefore, alfalfa seeds can lead to better bowel movement and prevent constipation. They also help reduce other disorders like gas, bloating, acid reflux and flatulence.
Alfalfa sprouts help neutralise the acidity in the stomach, thus preventing acid reflux. Alfalfa is also a good source of dietary fibres. A study suggested the effectiveness of soluble and insoluble fibres from alfalfa on nutrient digestion.
4. Boost Immunity
Alfalfa contains antibacterial and antiviral properties. It means, consuming Alfalfa may decrease the number of harmful bacteria and viruses in the body. As a result, it can prevent severe infections and illnesses. A study suggests Alfalfa’s antimicrobial properties were due to saponins. Additionally, alfalfa sprouts are a rich source of chlorophyll. Studies have established that chlorophyll is a green pigment that can protect against bacterial infections.
Also, Alfalfa contains a high amount of vitamin C. Consuming one serving of alfalfa sprouts can satisfy 15% of the required daily intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C is known for boosting immunity. Its importance was evident during the pandemic. Vitamin C can increase the production of white blood cells and other immune molecules.
5. Increases Testosterone Levels
A study suggests that regular consumption of alfalfa may increase testosterone levels. In addition, quercetin present in alfalfa sprouts may help increase testosterone production in males. However, further research is required to figure out the exact mechanism.
6. Anticancer Properties
Alfalfa sprouts show cytotoxic effects against many cancer cells. It means they cause cell death of cancer cells. A study demonstrates the anticancer effects of alfalfa extracts against leukaemia cell lines.
Alfalfa contains many antioxidants and phytochemicals like phytoestrogens, lutein, beta-carotene, and flavonoids. Also, L-canavanine present in Alfalfa enhances the anticancer effects. These compounds stop the growth of cancer cells by interfering with their cell cycle. In addition, alfalfa sprouts are a rich source of antioxidants. The function of antioxidants is to prevent the risk of cancer.
However, many factors may lead to cancers. Some of these include genetic mutations, exposure to radiation, and inheritable cancers. In addition, free radicals may cause genetic mutations due to damage to the cells. Free radicals are present in many chemicals, foods and the atmosphere. They are reactive compounds that can react with our DNA and cells. They cause damage and thus lead to mutations. Therefore, antioxidants are essential to reduce the damage caused by free radicals.
7. Anti-Inflammatory Properties
The anti-inflammatory properties of Alfalfa can help prevent and reduce many ailments, like arthritis. Many alternative medicines and natural medicines for arthritis contain alfalfa extracts. It can relieve joint pain due to inflammation in arthritis. In addition, it may alleviate symptoms of other similar disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Alfalfa contains saponins, which have anti-inflammatory properties. In addition, other bioactive molecules like phytoestrogens and antioxidants help reduce inflammation. These molecules reduce the production of inflammatory substances like prostaglandin.
8. Rich Source of Antioxidants
Free radicals are found in a wide variety of substances, foods, and the environment. They are harmful reactive compounds that can react with our DNA and cells. They may cause damage to our cells and lead to mutations. Therefore, it would help if you took antioxidants to reduce their damage. Antioxidants decrease the reactivity of free radicals, thus preventing cellular damage and oxidative stress in the body. Some antioxidants in Alfalfa are saponins, copper, manganese, and selenium.
9. Rich Source of Vitamins
Alfalfa sprouts are rich in vitamin content. Some vitamins found in high quantities are vitamin B, B2, B9, vitamin C and vitamin K. These vitamins provide many health benefits. For example, vitamin C helps boost immunity. Vitamin K helps speed up healing and helps in the blood clotting process. It can help speed it up and reduces the chances of infection in the wound. It also helps improve healing.
Furthermore, vitamin K and the calcium and magnesium in alfalfa help bones. They can increase bone strength and prevent bone disorders. For example, osteoporosis is a common bone disorder that can cause holes and pores in the bones. It makes them weaker and more likely to break. Therefore, a regular supply of vitamin K, calcium and magnesium is essential to bone strength.
The vitamin B complex helps stimulate metabolism in the body. Additionally, they aid in enzymatic activities occurring inside the body. These reactions are necessary for digestion to occur. Therefore, it can cause an improvement in digestion and metabolism. It may also give you more energy.
10. Weight Loss
Alfalfa sprouts are low in calories. They contain only 7.6 kcal per cup of serving. Also, they have a low glycaemic index. It shows how it is a nutritionally dense food. It means that it contains an abundance of minerals, nutrients, and vitamins but low calories. It’s a great food if you are trying to lose weight. It keeps you full for longer and provides a good amount of nutrients. Moreover, it is rich in proteins and dietary fibres. Therefore, it keeps you satiated, which can prevent overeating.
The fibre-rich sprouts also help in losing weight. That is because the sprouts reduce the absorption of carbohydrates and sugars in the intestines. Additionally, the vitamin B complex found in alfalfa sprouts helps enhance metabolism. As a result, it can prevent excess fat build-up in the body, thus promoting weight loss.
Ways to Use Alfalfa
You may consume Alfalfa in many ways. It may be soaked in water for 3-4 days and eaten as sprouts. The sprouts may be added to salads, sandwiches, meals, or eaten raw. Alternatively, you may consume it as tea. You can add its dried seeds to a teabag. Drinking tea is beneficial because it offers many vitamins and minerals. However, the dietary fibres and other nutrients may be lost.
Another use of Alfalfa is to feed livestock. It contains an abundance of nutrients, proteins and minerals. These are beneficial to the growth of the animals. Alfalfa also serves as an alternative herbal medicine to treat some ailments. For example, arthritis, high cholesterol, etc. Furthermore, Alfalfa is also a herbal supplement that you can get as tablets and powders.
You may eat Alfalfa sprouts any time of the day. If you consume them at night or early morning, eat them with a meal. You may eat them as a salad during the day.
Preparation time: 78-80 hours
- Alfalfa seeds: 1 cup
- Water: 4 cups
- In a clean jar, add one cup of alfalfa seeds.
- Rinse the seeds 2-3 times. Drain the used water.
- Add 4 cups of drinking water into the jar.
- Cover the pot tightly.
- Let the jar sit for 6 hours.
- After 6 hours, completely drain the water from the jar.
- Store the jar in a cool place for about 80 hours or 3-4 days.
- The alfalfa sprouts should be visible.
- Remove the alfalfa sprouts and store them in the fridge for 3-4 days.
Possible Side Effects of Alfalfa Sprouts
Consumption of alfalfa sprouts may cause discomfort in some people. For example, excess consumption of raw alfalfa may cause gas, bloating, flatulence, or diarrhoea. In addition, raw alfalfa may have bacterial contamination. Therefore, people with low immunity shouldn’t consume it. It is essential to rinse the sprouts before eating them properly.
People taking blood-thinners should avoid alfalfa. It contains a high quantity of vitamin K, which promotes blood clotting. Therefore, it can interfere with the blood-thinners and make them less effective.
People with autoimmune disorders or weakened immunity should not have alfalfa sprouts. It boosts the immune system due to the abundance of vitamin C. However, it can cause further aggravation of the autoimmune disorder. Also, if you have recently undergone organ transplantation, alfalfa sprouts aren’t recommended as they may cause the immune system to attack the new organ. If you have a severe medical condition, consult your doctor before taking alfalfa sprouts.
Alfalfa is a type of plant you may use to feed livestock, as a herbal supplement, and as sprouts. It offers several health benefits like improving heart, gut, and liver health, boosting immunity and increasing testosterone in men. Furthermore, it contains many nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants with health benefits. Therefore, alfalfa sprouts are great to incorporate into your daily diet for health benefits.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What is Alfalfa called in India?
A. Lucerne is another name for Alfalfa. It’s known as alfalfa or rijka in India. People in the UK, South Africa, and New Zealand also use the same name.
Q. Is Lucerne and alfalfa the same?
A. Yes, lucerne and Alfalfa are the same. The name is used in the UK, South Africa, and New Zealand. It is also widely used in North America and Australia.
Q. What is the difference between clover and Alfalfa?
A. The soil conditions needed to grow Alfalfa and clover are different. Additionally, clover may have a higher nutritional quantity than Alfalfa.
Q. What do alfalfa sprouts do for the body?
A. Alfalfa sprouts may offer several health benefits. For example, it may improve heart, gut, and liver health, boost immunity and increase testosterone in men.
Q. Are alfalfa sprouts a superfood?
A. Yes, Alfalfa may be considered a superfood due to its high nutritional value. It is rich in vitamins A, C, and K and vitamin B-related choline.
Q. Is Alfalfa an anti-inflammatory?
A. Yes, alfalfa sprouts have anti-inflammatory properties. They stop the secretion of prostaglandins, which causes inflammation.
Q. Is Alfalfa good for the liver?
A. Yes, alfalfa sprouts are suitable for the liver. They reduce the excess fat build-up around the liver and help heal the inner structures. It can lead to better functioning and detoxification by the liver.
Q. Is Alfalfa good for the thyroid?
A. Alfalfa may improve thyroid functioning. For example, it may help people with decreased thyroid functions. However, there isn’t sufficient research to fully understand its mechanism.
Q. Is Alfalfa good for arthritis?
A. Yes, alfalfa sprouts help reduce arthritis. They have anti-inflammatory properties. It can help reduce the pain in joints caused by arthritis. Alfalfa sprouts may also relieve pain due to similar conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Q. Is Alfalfa good for acid reflux?
A. Yes. Alfalfa sprouts contain many proteinaceous enzymes which our body needs. These enzymes help in better digestion. As a result, it can lead to better bowel movement and prevent acid reflux. Also, alfalfa sprouts help neutralise the acidity in the stomach, thus preventing acid reflux.
Q. Is Alfalfa a blood thinner?
A. No, Alfalfa helps promote blood clotting. The high amounts of vitamin K in alfalfa sprouts promotes faster blood clotting in open wounds. Therefore, you should not eat alfalfa sprouts if you are on blood thinners.
Q. Is Alfalfa good for constipation?
A. Yes, alfalfa sprouts help reduce constipation by strengthening the digestive system. They contain many proteinaceous enzymes which our body needs. These enzymes help in improving digestion. As a result, it can lead to better bowel movement and prevent constipation.
Q. Does Alfalfa increase testosterone?
A. Yes, many studies have suggested the consumption of alfalfa sprouts can increase testosterone in males. However, the change is more significant in the alfalfa sprouts group than in the broccoli group.
Q. Is it safe to eat alfalfa sprouts?
A. Yes, it is safe to eat alfalfa sprouts. However, you should not eat alfalfa sprouts if you have autoimmune diseases, a low immune system, or are pregnant. They may cause infections.
Q. Does Alfalfa make you gain weight?
A. No, alfalfa consumption may cause weight loss. Alfalfa is a low-calorie, highly nutritious food. It also has a low glycaemic index. Therefore, it provides adequate nutrients and vitamins while limiting the calories consumed. That can lead to a healthy weight loss.
Q. Can you eat raw alfalfa sprouts?
A. Yes, alfalfa sprouts may be eaten raw. However, it is essential to wash them thoroughly before eating. Also, if you have autoimmune diseases, a low immune system, or are pregnant, alfalfa sprouts are not recommended. They may cause infections.
Q. What happens if we eat alfalfa sprouts daily?
A. If you eat 1-2 cups of alfalfa sprouts daily, it may have many health benefits. For example, it may lower cholesterol, improve digestion, improve metabolism, and increase testosterone in males. Also, it is a rich source of many vitamins and antioxidants.
Q. Should I rinse alfalfa sprouts?
A. Yes, it is essential to rinse the sprouts properly before eating them. That is because they may contain bacteria on the surface.
Q. Does alfalfa cause lupus?
A. No. Alfalfa doesn’t cause lupus, but it may worsen its symptoms. People with lupus should not eat Alfalfa. It may cause lupus-like symptoms like kidney problems, weaker immunity, fatigue, etc.