Whether perched on avocado toast at a trendy restaurant, blended into a smoothie, or garnishing your meal, you’ve likely spotted the recently trendy alfalfa sprouts. Not only are they an aesthetic addition to restaurant foods, but these tiny sprouts pack a big nutritional punch.
Alfalfa has been used as a medicinal herb and livestock feed for centuries. Though alfalfa became less well-known in the 20th century, the plant has reemerged in the wellness world for its numerous health benefits because it is filled with protein, fiber, essential vitamins, and minerals.
You can find raw alfalfa leaves available at grocery and health food stores. However, brands like Ensō Superfoods add this plant compound to their daily greens supplement.
Whether you eat fresh alfalfa sprouts or take alfalfa supplements, this is what you need to know about this small yet mighty plant.
The Bottom Line
- What is alfalfa leaf? Medicago sativa contains essential vitamins and nutrients, has been used for centuries as an herbal supplement, and is emerging as one of many dietary plant compounds.
- What are the benefits of alfalfa leaf? The benefits of alfalfa include regulating blood sugar levels, supporting metabolic health, regulating cholesterol, and its diuretic properties.
- What are the side effects of alfalfa leaf? Experts recommend that pregnant women, people with an autoimmune disease, or people taking blood thinning medications avoid alfalfa. Talk with your healthcare provider if you're unsure whether alfalfa is safe for you.
- How Ensō Superfoods can help. Ensō Superfoods includes alfalfa seeds in its unique powder, making it easy to get the nutritional benefits of alfalfa in one scoop.
Struggling to get your greens in? Integrate the health benefits of Ensō Supergreens today.
What Is Alfalfa Leaf?
Alfalfa’s modern superfood status is no surprise considering its history. Though it was originally used as livestock feed, alfalfa (Medicago sativa) was common in traditional Chinese medicine and Indian ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years.
Today, alfalfa is often thought of as an herb because of its bitter, earthy flavor. However, this perennial plant is part of the nutritionally-rich legume family, making it a close cousin of lentils, beans, and quinoa.
Much of the nutritional power of alfalfa comes from its seeds. Essential vitamins like A, C, E, and K are packed into these small plants, not to mention that they are rich in calcium, iron, copper, riboflavin, and phosphorus.
The seeds are commonly sprouted and eaten raw. Alternatively, the green shoots are dried and blended into a supplement powder.
What Are Alfalfa Leaf Benefits?
Alfalfa is often considered a superfood, but why? Here are 10 reasons why you need to get more alfalfa in your life:
1. Fiber and protein-packed
Though it may sound less than appetizing, one cup of alfalfa sprouts packs approximately a gram each of fiber and protein. Keep in mind that the exact nutritional amount is hard to pinpoint since levels vary by seed.
Experts recommend diets rich in protein and fiber to help with weight management and lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels. But foods that help you meet this daily dietary recommendation may be hard to find, making alfalfa one of the easiest ways to incorporate plant-based protein and dietary fiber into your routine.
One cup of alfalfa contains no more than six calories on average, making this nutrient-rich food perfect for those on specialized diets or monitoring their calorie intake.
2. Excellent source of antioxidants
For those who are tired of eating their greens, alfalfa may be a solution. One of the main nutritional benefits of leafy greens is that they are full of antioxidants. This fact is also true of alfalfa leaf, whose antioxidant properties are similar to greens like kale and spinach.
Antioxidants are a health buzzword, but why are they important? Simply put, antioxidants are essential for helping the body fight free radicals (harmful molecules linked to an increased risk of heart disease and cancer), heal inflamed muscles and joints, and support immune functions.
Whether adding sprouts to your meal or taking alfalfa supplements, this plant-based superfood provides another way to reap the benefits of antioxidants.
3. High in Vitamin C
This essential vitamin isn’t found only in carrots and oranges. A single serving of raw sprouted alfalfa seeds provides 8.2 mg of Vitamin C, which accounts for approximately 9% of the recommended daily intake of this vitamin.
Perhaps most well-known for its immunity superpowers, Vitamin C is a supporter of an efficient immune system. Its benefits go beyond the immune system to fight free radicals and support collagen production.
Collagen, another trendy wellness term, is the protein that protects the body’s many delicate systems, including the nervous, bone, cartilage, and blood systems. It is also crucial for healthy nails, hair, and skin, meaning that alfalfa provides the Vitamin C needed to build collagen to help you look and feel your best.
4. Strengthens bones
One cup of alfalfa sprouts accounts for 8% of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin K. Not only that, Vitamin K is the most common vitamin in this seed superfood. This Vitamin K is essential for bone health since it helps build bone tissue.
A study conducted on a range of female participants found that the participants with higher daily Vitamin K intake were less likely to break a bone than participants who consumed less of this same vitamin.
For the elderly, those with osteoporosis, or other conditions that weaken bones, alfalfa is an easy way to ensure you have sufficient amounts of Vitamin K in your diet.
5. Source of phosphorus
Though this essential mineral may not be as popular as iron and zinc, phosphorus is crucial for strong bones and teeth, forming DNA and RNA, supporting healthy metabolism, and even fighting urinary tract infections (UTIs).
When treating UTIs, phosphorus reverses the bacterial growth caused by high calcium levels. It does so by binding to the calcium to circulate throughout the body and neutralize the acidic (and infection-prone) bacteria.
Experts predict that phosphorus reduces the likelihood of getting kidney and urinary stones. However, this mineral is not naturally occurring in the body and can only be attained through food.
One serving of alfalfa provides 70 mg of phosphorus. However, this is only 1.7% of the recommended daily intake. This means that alfalfa alone cannot meet the body’s needs.
6. High in iron
Like phosphorus, iron is an essential mineral that is obtained from food. Alfalfa provides 0.96 mg of iron in a single serving, or about 50% of the recommended daily intake requirement. Though iron is not the most prevalent mineral in the superfood, it still packs many health benefits.
Iron is essential for making red blood cells, regulating blood pressure, transforming food into energy (a process referred to as metabolizing), and supporting a healthy nervous system. Iron deficiencies are common, especially among women and pregnant people, and may lead to a variety of health challenges, like iron deficiency anemia in the most severe cases.
However, for most people in the U.S., incorporating alfalfa or other vegetables into your diet ensures your body gets this vital mineral.
7. Helps lower cholesterol
Some studies suggest that alfalfa can support lower cholesterol levels. A 2014 study performed on rats found that increasing their daily alfalfa intake was correlated to reduced amounts of low-density lipoprotein, otherwise known as the harmful type of cholesterol that can be found in the blood.
Researchers do not have evidence proving the connection between alfalfa and lower cholesterol. However, the superfood checks many of the American Heart Association’s dietary recommendations for managing cholesterol and heart health. Some tips include eating fruits and vegetables with meals and relying on plant-based proteins like legumes.
8. May help relieve symptoms of menopause
Alfalfa seeds are a natural plant-based source of phytoestrogens, a chemical compound similar to the hormone estrogen. For some people, adding alfalfa into their diets can help provide relief from menopause symptoms.
Menopause is part of the body’s aging process and marks the end of the body’s fertile period. During this transitionary period, estrogen and progesterone levels change, triggering a wave of responses as the body tries to rebalance.
Since the dip in hormones often triggers uncomfortable menopause symptoms, the estrogenic levels of alfalfa leaf suggest may help balance the body’s overall hormone levels.
This means that consuming alfalfa seeds, whether raw or as alfalfa tablets, may offer a way to manage common menopause symptoms, including mood swings, hot flashes, insomnia, and night sweats. For people in menopause, the appeal of this superfood is undeniable.
9. Linked to healthy weight management
Whether you’re trying to shed a few pounds or looking for ways to maintain a healthy weight, alfalfa provides numerous weight management benefits. This seed is very low-calorie, making it great for weight loss.
However, alfalfa leaves are filled with fiber, which helps you feel full for longer without sudden cravings sneaking up later. Aside from its obvious appeal for people on a diet, experts also love the metabolism-boosting benefits of alfalfa.
A study done on rats supported this by showing that alfalfa may help boost the body’s energy levels and metabolism so that the body burns fat even while inactive. Although there is yet to be data confirming the alfalfa’s metabolic effects on the human body, scientists believe that the effects are similar, if not the same.
10. Diabetes management
Many experts believe that the high-fiber content of alfalfa helps slow the absorption of glucose in the body’s digestive system. Not only does this help regulate healthy blood sugar levels, but experts suggest that it may help manage diabetes if taken as a dietary supplement.
Though there is no evidence from studies done on humans, animal testing suggests that the chemical composition of alfalfa naturally lowers the body’s blood glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides (fats) levels.
Of course, there are fewer chemically-complex benefits of alfalfa on diabetes. Weight management and a diet focused on plant-based foods are foundational for helping people with diabetes live healthy lives and reduce future health problems.
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What Are the Side Effects of Alfalfa Sprouts?
Like most foods, moderation is key. Though numerous benefits of alfalfa exist, it is an ingredient that experts recommend consuming in small quantities. Here is a closer look at some of the possible side effects of alfalfa.
High risk of foodborne illness
You may have seen the raw alfalfa sprouts on the grocery store shelf. Since water is needed to grow alfalfa sprouts, the sprouts you see on the shelves are at higher risk of bacterial contamination, including E. coli, salmonella, or listeria.
These bacteria are likely to cause foodborne illness and are especially dangerous for pregnant women, anyone with a compromised immune system, or people with autoimmune disorders. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are unsure whether you should avoid alfalfa.
Reduce the effectiveness of blood thinners
For many people, the high levels of Vitamin K are one of the main benefits of alfalfa. However, studies show that large quantities of Vitamin K may weaken the effectiveness of blood thinning medications, making alfalfa a potentially harmful supplement for people taking these medications for blood clotting.
Small quantities of alfalfa are safe, so that handful of sprouts you tossed on your toast won’t be dangerous. But as a general rule of thumb, it is best to avoid adding large amounts of alfalfa to your diet.
Again, it is best to clarify with your healthcare provider whether alfalfa is safe to add to your diet.
How to Use Alfalfa Seeds and Sprouts
Alfalfa can easily be added to your diet in a variety of ways. For those who prefer the herbal taste of sprouts, purchase a container at the grocery store and keep them on hand to add to salads, scrambles, or whatever meal you are cooking.
Remember that raw sprouts have a higher risk of foodborne illness, so make sure you’re not part of the high-risk groups described above. If you want to avoid raw alfalfa sprouts, you can find a range of supplements and powders at your local grocery store or online.
The easiest way to incorporate alfalfa into your daily life is with a superfood powder like Ensō Supergreens. This health food supplement contains alfalfa and other superfoods to promote a healthy lifestyle, manage cholesterol, help with weight loss, or reduce inflammation.
All you need to do is blend this superfood powder into a smoothie to get the benefits of alfalfa and other nutrient additives.
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How Ensō Superfoods Can Help
Finding ways to incorporate superfoods into your daily diet can be difficult, especially if you want to eat lesser-known and often pricier health foods like alfalfa. That’s why some people opt for superfood powders like Ensō Supergreens.
Alfalfa appears in this health food supplement along with other probiotics and essential nutrients. Because these plant-based superfoods are blended together, Ensō Supergreens makes it easy to get essential nutrients without any of the added sugars or preservatives in other dietary supplements.
Plus, you can avoid purchasing sprouts from grocery stores, which increases the risk of foodborne illness.
Just add one scoop to your daily smoothie or juice. Because the ingredient list is filled with good-for-you ingredients, Ensō Supergreens makes feeling, looking, and leading a healthy lifestyle a cinch.
At Ensō Superfoods, we demystify common wellness lingo. Each ingredient in the natural dietary supplement is stated on the label.
Opting for Ensō Supergreens also makes getting your greens delicious. Whether you are kale-adverse, can’t stand the smell of nutritional supplements, or don't want to worry about buying sprouts, Ensō Supergreens powder packs delicious flavor so that eating healthy isn’t a chore.
Frequently Asked Questions on Alfalfa Leaf
Though experts believe that there are numerous benefits of consuming alfalfa, there is little scientific evidence to make this a fact. That’s why we answered some of the most frequently asked questions.
What does alfalfa leaf do?
Medicago sativa contains nutrients that promote numerous health benefits like lower blood sugar levels, digestive health, immune functioning, and regulated cholesterol levels. Some experts even believe that alfalfa can help treat diabetes and menopause symptoms. However, there is not enough scientific evidence for these claims to be facts.
What is alfalfa leaf used for?
Since one serving of alfalfa contains protein, fiber, Vitamin K, and essential minerals like iron and phosphorus, alfalfa is often consumed as a dietary supplement. Some experts believe alfalfa can also help ease menopause symptoms, manage diabetes or cholesterol, or promote healthy weight loss.
Is alfalfa leaf good for you?
Yes! Alfalfa has nutrients that are essential for keeping your body healthy. One cup of alfalfa sprouts contains a gram each of protein and fiber, 8% of your recommended daily Vitamin K intake, and only eight calories. You also get essential minerals like zinc, iron, and phosphorus, all of which are essential for your body.
How much alfalfa leaf should you take per day?
There is no firm recommendation for how much alfalfa you should eat. However, know that people who are pregnant, using blood thinners, or with a compromised immune system may want to limit or avoid alfalfa. Raw sprouts have a higher risk of bacteria that may cause serious foodborne illness.Take your first step towards everyday health - get Ensō Supergreens today!
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