|Alfalfa Sprouts Quick Facts|
|Scientific Name:||Medicago sativa|
|Origin||Native to Asia Minor and Caucasus Mountains|
|Major nutrients||Vitamin K (8.42%)
Vitamin B2 (3.23%)
Vitamin C (3.00%)
|Health benefits||Lowers breast cancer, Menstrual health, Prevention of osteoporosis, Helpful for diabetic patients, Slows aging|
Alfalfa sprouts are immature seedlings of plant alfalfa which are added to sandwiches, salads, soups and as a topping for savory dishes. These sprouts are popular in Asian cultures in local cuisines and could also be prepared at home. Sprouts are loaded with health benefits due to low content of calories and high minerals as well as vitamins. Studies have shown that alfalfa sprouts are beneficial to deal with diabetes and cancer.
History of Alfalfa Sprouts
Since antiquity, Alfalfa has been cultivated as forage plant and is inherent to Asia Minor and Caucasus Mountains. It was cultivated by Persians, Greeks and the Romans. Believed that, the name Alfalfa got originated in medieval times from Iranian language. In reference to high nutritional value, its Arabic name translates into father of all foods. After the plant was introduced to Spain, the final change in name was made. The plant was considered to be best feed for horsed by Spanish being horsemen. It was called alfalfez and finally it became alfalfa. Alfalfa was introduced by Spanish colonizers to Americas and since then the name was unchanged.
Health Benefits of Alfalfa sprouts
These sprouts are rich in phytoestrogens which assist to lower the chances of heart disease, osteoporosis and cancer. It is also helpful in lowering the symptoms of menopause. It is stated that Alfalfa sprouts contains saponins which has major role in reducing bad cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol and also promotes immunity. Saponins have anti-inflammatory properties which lowers inflammatory problems caused by chronic inflammatory ailments and arthritis. It is also a good source of dietary protein. One serving serves one gram of fiber i.e. equivalent to 3% of daily requirement for an adult. It is beneficial for people with digestive problems such as diverticular disease and chronic constipation. Alfalfa sprouts make a perfect diet food by offering high protein and fiber with no cholesterol, sugar and saturated. Besides lowering bad cholesterol, it also helps to treat and avert atherosclerosis that lead to hardening of arteries.
- Lowers breast cancer
Alfalfa sprouts are a good source of isolavones as well as other phytoestrogens i.e. plant compounds that imitates human estrogen. Studies with consuming soy foods has high content of isoflavones that shows positive outcomes in lowering chances of death and recurrence in patients of breast cancer. Nutritional journal detailed that alfalfa helps to curb breast cancer.
- Menstrual health
Alfalfa sprouts contains high content of phytoestrogens and vitamin K that helps to minimize symptoms associated with menopause and menstruation. A blood clotting vitamin, Vitamin K, assist with excessive bleeding. A combination of phytoestrogens and Vitamin K regulates estrogen that helps in minimizing PMS and menopause symptoms. It also balance estrogen levels to lower hormone associated symptoms of menopause such as mood swings.
- Prevention of osteoporosis
Vitamin K helps to build bones and prevent the chances of osteoporosis. Vitamin K is essential for utilizing calcium to build bones. The connection has been shown between increased levels of Vitamin K and bone health. Alfalfa sprouts also contains significant amount of manganese which is essential for preventing inflammation and osteoporosis.
- Helpful for diabetic patients
There is no absolute cure for diabetes but it could be regulated naturally by diet. The study shows that alfalfa sprouts are an effective anti-diabetic being able to reduce the level of blood glucose. The regulation in level of blood sugar is essential for the treatment of diabetes. The diet containing alfalfa sprouts helps to lower the dependency on insulin.
- Slows aging
Alfalfa sprouts are rich in antioxidants that prevent damage of cells by free radicals. It promotes overall health and prevents various illness and diseases such as heart disease and cancer. Study shows that alfalfa sprouts has vitamin K which prevents diseases associated with aging such as cancer, osteoporosis and hardening of arteries.
- Cholesterol balance
These sprouts have antihyperlipidemic properties which lowers level of lipid in blood. Lower lipid helps to lower symptoms of coronary heart disease caused by high level of cholesterol. The study conducted on monkeys resulted that when alfalfa added to the diet, it lowers the negative effects of cholesterol. It proves that alfalfa is a great food for lowering cholesterol.
- Vitamin C content
Alfalfa sprouts is rich in Vitamin C. A serving size of Alfalfa sprouts grants 14 percent of daily recommended value of Vitamin C. Being water soluble, Vitamin C should be replenished through diets. Alfalfa sprouts are a great way to supplement Vitamin C that is required for various body functions. Still more research is required to consider Alfalfa sprouts could promote milk supply in nursing mothers, assist upset stomach, arthritis, asthma, supports kidney and bladder problems.
- Helps to lose weight
These sprouts are rich in fiber which keeps one full without increasing the intake of calories. Moreover, vitamins present in these sprouts assist in stimulation of metabolism, promotes energy metabolism and increase energy levels by helping them to burn fat faster.
- Assist healing
Alfalfa sprouts has high content of Vitamin K that promotes the speed of clotting blood in the body, lowering risk of infection and assisting healing process of wounds faster.
- Provides healthy skin
Alfalfa sprouts are regarded as food rich in antioxidants and is related with some anti-aging properties such as lowering appearance of blemishes and wrinkles and promoting skin elasticity. Antioxidants help to counteract effects of oxidative stress when consumed regularly in moderate amounts and promotes appearance and glow of skin.
- Risk of Anemia
Lower production of hemoglobin signals for anemia which is caused due to deficiency of iron. The red blood cells decrease when body lacks sufficient iron for production of new red blood cells. It might be caused due to insufficient iron rich foods in diet and heavy menstrual flows which results to nausea, fatigue, general lethargic states and absent mindedness. Low level of iron promotes the chances of infections in pregnant women and children. Alfalfa sprouts contains significant amounts of iron, vitamin K and chlorophyll which promotes blood production and is beneficial for treating bleeding gums and nosebleeds.
- Detoxify body
Alfalfa sprouts purifies blood and helps to address skin eruptions such as chicken pox, acne, psoriasis and eczema. Its detoxification properties help to clean the blood and helps liver and kidney function. Blood poisoning is caused with an accumulation of bacteria in bloodstream that could be life threatening. It could be prevented with the use of blood purifying herbs such as alfalfa which possess anti-microbial properties as well.
Side Effects of Alfalfa Sprouts
Alfalfa sprouts contain immune boosting properties so its excessive consumption is harmful for people with autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. So consult the doctor before its consumption.
Raw sprouts which are lightly cooked are more prone to infection because preparation of alfalfa sprouts involves damp beans remained in glass jar for days. Infected or poorly stored sprouts causes food borne illness. Make it sure to consume fresh and healthy looking sprouts.
- Risk of cancer
Alfalfa sprouts comprises of active compounds that shows certain estrogenic qualities which is harmful for women who have existing or prone to estrogen related cancer such as breast cancer.
Alfalfa sprouts is able to manage diabetes and suppress increasing blood sugar level which is excellent for those who wants to avoid diabetes. When consumed with diabetic medications, it could lower blood sugar that shows symptoms such as cognitive confusion, lightheadedness, fainting, coma and even death.
- Bleeding Issues
It promotes blood clotting activity in the body sue to high content of Vitamin K. People who are prone to blood clots, have cardiovascular events and high blood pressure should consult the doctor before consuming alfalfa sprouts.
How to Eat
- Add it to salads, soups and sandwiches.
- Use alfalfa sprouts as a topping for savory dishes.
- These sprouts may be eaten raw or blended into smoothies.
- It could be added to stir fries.
- Alfalfa sprouts are easily grown in a jar at home.
- The total production of alfalfa in 2006 was 395 million tonnes (436 million tons) in weight.
- Alfalfa is the most common legume which is cultivated as a stock feed.