Alfalfa Benefits: A Powder Powerhouse
Hands up if you’ve had Alfalfa Sprouts stuck in your teeth before? I sure have, many times. What you might not know is that for something that can come in such a small package - perfectly sized to slide right between your teeth - Alfalfa benefits are amazing and it packs a huge nutritional punch.
Actually, we’re not here to talk about the sprouts, but rather about the leaf. As you’ll read about a bit further on, the sprouts are full of nutrition, but so is the rest of the plant.
From top to toe, Alfalfa is a nutritional powerhouse.
For hundreds of years people have used the leaves, sprouts, and seeds to make medicine. In Athletic Greens we use Alfalfa Leaf in its powdered form.
So let’s take a closer look at why Alfalfa benefits are so numerous.
Alfalfa: Father Of All Foods
Alfalfa, sometimes known as lucerne, is a plant in the pea family. It has a long history of use in farming and agriculture. In fact, it’s one of the oldest known cultivated plants.
Remains of Alfalfa that were more than 6,000 years old were found in Iran. There’s writings about Alfalfa that go way back to 1300 B.C. from Turkey. Even Aristotle wrote about the humble Alfalfa! (Bet you’re already looking at your sprout sandwich differently, right?)
Thanks to its dense nutritional value, Alfalfa was important for early cultures such as the Babylonians, Persians, Greeks and Romans. They figured out Alfalfa benefits animals too, and that it was a great food source for their war horses.
Our ancestors were onto something good. Alfalfa is a tough and versatile plant. It’s both winter hardy and drought tolerant, with high yield and good longevity. But best of all, Alfalfa benefits include high protein content and an excellent nutritional profile.
It’s the perfect food for livestock - and it’s the perfect food for Athletic Greens!
The botanical name for Alfalfa is Medicago sativa - so you might be wondering where “Alfalfa” comes from.
Here’s a fun fact: Alfalfa gets its name from the Arabic phrase “al-fac-facah”, which translates to “father of all foods”.
It has a long history of use not just in farming, but in folk medicine too. It was used to treat stomach, bladder, kidney and urinary dysfunction, arthritis, menstrual problems, boils (topically) and as a cleansing agent.
Despite this impressive CV of benefits, the value of Alfalfa remains largely unstudied by modern science.
If we take a closer look at the nutritional qualities of Alfalfa and view it as a functional food, we can assume its many health benefits for humans.
Alfalfa Benefits And Features
Think of alfalfa as a complete, nutrient dense food.
It represents a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A (plant form), D (when sun-dried), E, and K2, plus B-group vitamins.
Also present are a spectrum of trace minerals such as magnesium, potassium, iron, manganese and calcium - plus helpful plant compounds like chlorophyll, carotenes and saponins.
Despite a long history of use for improving both human and animal health, Alfalfa doesn’t have scientific backing as a therapeutic agent, yet.
Preliminary research does support the use of alfalfa for:
✔ Lowering cholesterol
Active constituents in Alfalfa such as saponins - combined with its high fiber content - offer possible cholesterol binding and lowering effects. It may also block cholesterol absorption in the gut.
Other potential applications (as yet unsupported by research) include:
✔ As a diuretic
Minerals such as potassium may offer diuretic effects for fluid retention and conditions of the kidneys and urinary tract.
✔ To support healthy immunity
✔ To reduce the symptoms of arthritis and gout
Due to possible diuretic effects and high-chlorophyll content, aiding in the excretion of uric acid.
✔ For enhanced blood sugar regulation
✔ As a biofilm disruptor
Alfalfa may represent a helpful herbal addition for people battling Candida albicans overgrowth.
How To Get Your Alfalfa Benefits
No firm dosage range has been established for Alfalfa, however 1 - 2 teaspoons is regularly prescribed to address a variety of ailments.
There are some things to be careful about:
Pregnant and nursing women should avoid use, as Alfalfa may cause uterine stimulation and possible adverse effects at high doses.
Warnings have been issued for children, the elderly, and immunocompromised individuals to avoid eating fresh - not powdered - Alfalfa sprouts due to an increased risk of bacterial contamination.
Alfalfa use is also cautioned in patients taking anticoagulants like warfarin due to its high vitamin K2 content, which may have a compound blood-thinning effect.
And finally, a constituent in Alfalfa called canavanine - found in the seeds and sprouts, not in mature leaves - may cause the breakdown of red blood cells and an aggravation of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE).
Sprout or Leaf: Which Alfalfa Benefits Are You Looking For?
Alfalfa sprouts are the shoots of the plant, harvested before they get a chance to be fully grown. Because they are still so small, they, like all sprouted vegetables, are a super concentrated source of nutrition.
Sprouts aren’t common in most people’s diets though. Also, buying sprouts can be hazardous as they can nurture the growth of fungus and bacteria and are often responsible for food poisoning.
A great solution is getting them from a safe and reliable source, like Athletic Greens.
In the case of Alfalfa, different parts of the plant have different uses and effects.
For example, in traditional Chinese medicine, fresh alfalfa juice is sometimes used to treat kidney stones, while the leaves of Alfalfa contain saponin, which may have an effect on lowering cholesterol.
We include Alfalfa leaf in Athletic Greens in its powder form, where it goes nicely hand in hand with some of the other ingredients in the mix.
Not surprisingly Alfalfa works well with the other greens, Wheatgrass, Spirulina and Barley Grass, due to their high chlorophyll content. This has an alkalizing effect which protects against the loss of minerals such as calcium and magnesium.
Alfalfa also works well with Beta Glucans and Policosanol, because all three ingredients have been proven to help lower cholesterol.
So by enjoying your Athletic Greens every morning you can get all the great Alfalfa benefits, and nothing stuck in your teeth! Sign me up.