Alfalfa is a perennial herb that has been used for thousands of years. It is also known as lucerne or by its botanical name Medicago sativa.
Alfalfa can be found in many different countries across the globe, but it originated in North Africa and parts of Asia. Although alfalfa was first used as feed for livestock, it provides so many more benefits. Today, you can find alfalfa sold as food or a supplement.
Read on to learn about alfalfa’s impressive nutrients and health benefits, plus, what to look for when buying alfalfa as a supplement.
What is Alfalfa?
Alfalfa is a plant from the pea family. Interestingly, alfalfa is considered both a legume and an herb. Alfalfa has been grown as a crop for hay and pastures since ancient times, and it remains an important food source today. In India, alfalfa has been used to treat coughs. Historically, alfalfa was also used to treat boils and blood disorders.
Alfalfa Health Benefits
Alfalfa is one of the oldest medicinal herbs, dating back to ancient times. Its high nutrient and antioxidant content make it an effective supplement for a number of conditions, including:
• Blood Sugar: In one study, alfalfa supplements reduced blood sugar levels in diabetic rats after 21 days.
• Heart Health: Alfalfa is used in complementary medicine in conjunction with fibre and vitamin E to support healthy cholesterol. Animal studies have found that alfalfa could support healthy blood cholesterol in rats due to its saponin content; however, more human studies are needed.
• Detoxification: Alfalfa’s high chlorophyll content makes it a great support for detoxification.
• Menopause and Menstrual Relief: The phytoestrogen content in alfalfa makes it helpful for reducing symptoms of menopause and menstrual cramps.
Nutrients in Alfalfa
Alfalfa is a superfood because it’s packed with nutrients. The roots of the alfalfa plant can grow up to 100 feet into the earth. This allows the alfalfa plant to absorb many different vitamins and minerals from the soil, making it extremely mineral-rich. Here are some of the nutrients you will find in alfalfa:
• Vitamin K: Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that helps your body form new blood vessels and prevent blood clots. One cup of alfalfa sprouts contains almost 50% of the recommended daily intake for adults. Vitamin K can also help lower cholesterol levels in the body, making it an effective heart health booster.
• Chlorophyll: Alfalfa sprouts are high in chlorophyll, which can help boost your energy levels and improve brain function. Chlorophyll is a compound that’s similar to blood and gives plants their green colour. It’s also a powerful antioxidant that helps the body detoxify.
• Trace Minerals: Alfalfa is also rich in calcium, potassium and iron. Calcium is an essential mineral that helps strengthen bones and teeth. Potassium is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels. Iron is a key component of red blood cells, which deliver oxygen throughout your body.
• Phytoestrogens: Alfalfa contains phytoestrogens like those found in soy and clover. Phytoestrogens can be used to protect the body from harmful environmental estrogens, due to their ability to bind to estrogen receptors in the body, thereby preventing the more dangerous estrogens from attaching to the receptors.
• Saponins: Alfalfa is rich in saponins, which could contribute to its cardiovascular system benefits by reducing the absorption of cholesterol.
• Protein and Fibre: Alfalfa is also rich in protein and fibre. The high protein content helps boost the immune system and maintain lean muscle mass, while fibre promotes digestive health.
If you’re looking to get the most out of alfalfa, there are a few different ways to do it. Alfalfa sprouts are a nutritious addition to salads or sandwiches (you have likely seen them at your local grocery store). Just ensure you wash the sprouts well and check them for mold before consuming them.
While sprouts are a healthy and nutrient-dense addition to cooking, you will want to add alfalfa supplements into your routine.
You can purchase alfalfa supplements in capsules or liquid.
• Capsules: 15 to 30 grams daily.
• Liquid: 15 to 30 millilitres daily.
If you are looking to support healthy cholesterol levels, blood sugar management, menopausal or menstrual symptoms, or detoxification, alfalfa may be for you. It is worth pointing out that if you have lupus disease, it is best to avoid alfalfa as it may make symptoms worse.
Which Alfalfa Supplement is Best?
It’s important to find an alfalfa supplement that’s clean and doesn’t contain preservatives. If you prefer liquid, Alfalfa Tonic by Homeocan is a 5 star supplement that’s a fortified combination of homeopathic remedies to support digestion, appetite and mental energy. This tonic was formulated by pharmacist Michele Boisvert and is made with ginseng to provide a greater energy boost. However, if you prefer capsules, then Alfalfa Aerial Parts by Nature’s Way is another 5 star choice. It contains 405mg of organically grown alfalfa per capsule and is high in absorbable trace minerals, chlorophyll and vitamin k. This is a whole herb extract that alkalizes the body, is easy to swallow and is trusted by many.
Disclaimer: The information in this article is intended for educational and informational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult your practitioner prior to taking herbs or nutritional supplements.