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Alfalfa Leaf Benefits

Discover how Alfalfa Leaf benefits can naturally revitalize your body, with its potential to improve cholesterol levels, aid in blood sugar management, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • Alfalfa leaf is a nutrient-rich medicinal plant that has been used for centuries as a source of vitamins, minerals, and protein.
  • Some of the potential health benefits of alfalfa leaf include improved cholesterol levels, reduced inflammation, blood sugar management, and boosted milk production in lactating women.
  • Alfalfa sprouts are generally safe to eat, but raw sprouts should be avoided by young children, pregnant women, and people with compromised immune systems.

Alfalfa sprouts are a delicious, bright, fresh addition to salads, wraps, and sandwiches. But what is alfalfa? While it’s becoming a trendy ingredient in foods, many aren’t even sure what these little green sproutlings are. Let’s take a deeper look at what alfalfa is, its nutrient content,  and some health-promoting benefits it may offer.

What Is Alfalfa Leaf?

Alfalfa Leaf

Alfalfa leaf (Medicago sativa L.) is a nutrient-rich medicinal plant. It originated from Asia but can now be found cultivated throughout the world. Alfalfa is from the legume family but is also considered an herb.

Alfalfa has been mainly used as a food source for livestock due to its superior nutrition profile compared to other types of feed; however, it has also been a popular medicinal herb for humans for hundreds of years. (Source

Alfalfa is rich in essential nutrients such as proteins, vitamins, and minerals. It is believed to exert strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory pharmacological properties which has warranted its use in treating a variety of diseases in humans. (Source

Nutrition Profile Of Alfalfa 

Alfalfa is a nutrient-rich herb that provides a good source of vitamin K, vitamin C, copper, manganese, and folate. It is low in calories and high in volume. Below is the nutrition breakdown for a serving of alfalfa sprouts. (Source)

Serving size: 1 cup (33 grams)

  • Calories: 8
  • Carbohydrates: 1 gram
  • Protein: 1 gram
  • Dietary fiber 1 gram
  • Vitamin K: 8% DV
  • Vitamin C: 3% DV
  • Folate: 3% DV
  • Thiamine: 2% DV
  • Riboflavin: 3% DV
  • Magnesium: 2% DV
  • Iron: 2% DV
  • Copper: 6% DV

What Are Alfalfa Leaf’s Benefits?

Alfalfa leaf is recognized for providing several potential health benefits ranging from improving lipid profile to reducing symptoms of menopause in women.

Below are some alfalfa leaf benefits according to available research studies.

May Improve Cholesterol Levels

Alfalfa is most well-studied for its potent benefits on cholesterol levels. Numerous available animal studies have found that alfalfa can lower both LDL (bad) cholesterol and triglyceride levels while boosting HDL (good) cholesterol. (Source)(Source)

These benefits are attributed to the compounds in alfalfa, specifically saponins found in high levels in this herb. These compounds are known to have cholesterol-lowering benefits as they act to bind to cholesterol and help excrete it from the body. (Source)

While there is a lot of promising research available, human trials are lacking therefore it is not yet recognized as a treatment for those with elevated cholesterol levels. (Source)

Provides Antioxidant Protection

Alfalfa contains a rich source of antioxidants, compounds found in plants that can help protect our cells against damaging free radicals that can cause disease. The protection against oxidative stress is believed to come from the saponins, the same compounds that may help improve cholesterol levels and reduce inflammation. (Source)

Research in animals and test tube studies have found that alfalfa may protect our cells by making them better able to fight off free radicals while also reducing the production of these harmful compounds. (Source)(Source)

Reduces Inflammation

Alfalfa may also help to reduce the body’s inflammatory response which may aid in improving pain in those with inflammatory conditions.

In fact, because of its potential benefits in reducing inflammation, alfalfa has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to treat inflammatory disorders. (Source

May Boost Metabolism

The Body Metabolism

Alfalfa may inflict blood-glucose lower effects in combination with improving lipid profile, both of which can help to support metabolic health.

By decreasing blood glucose levels and blood lipid levels, alfalfa may support cardiometabolic health, however, most studies are conducted on animals and further human trials are still underway. (Source)

May Improve Symptoms Of Menopause

Alfalfa is rich in phytoestrogens, plant compounds that are remarkably similar in structure to the female reproductive hormone, estrogen. Because of the similarities, it is believed that alfalfa’s phytoestrogens can be a useful treatment for common symptoms of menopause, a condition that occurs when the hormone estrogen drops significantly in response to the end of a woman’s reproductive period.

Alfalfa may be particularly helpful for symptoms such as hot flashes however, research on the phytoestrogens in alfalfa and their potential use for menopause treatment warrants further studies. (Source)

Can Aid In Blood Sugar Management

Alfalfa may provide significant benefits for blood sugar management. Alfalfa is rich in dietary fiber which can help slow down the rise of blood sugar by slowing the absorption of glucose in the intestines. Alfalfa may also stimulate the insulin section, an essential hormone in glucose control. (Source)

May Increase Breast Milk Production

The phytoestrogens in alfalfa may help to boost milk production in lactating women by binding to estrogen receptors which then signal the pituitary gland to secrete prolactin, the hormone responsible for breast milk production. 

For centuries alfalfa has been used as a breastfeeding aid to increase milk supply however, the data on the safety and efficacy of its use in lactating mothers and infants therefore caution should be used. (Source

May Improve Sperm Quality

Some smaller studies have found that alfalfa may provide benefits in improving sperm quality. One human trial found that alfalfa, when combined with vitamin E showed a significant improvement in sperm parameters in men with idiopathic infertility. (Source)

Provides Natural Diuretic Properties

Alfalfa leaf and its seeds are believed to act as a natural diuretic, which helps reduce the buildup of fluid in the body.

Alfalfa leaf may help to promote the flow of urine and flush out any potentially harmful bacteria and reduce the chances of developing urinary tract infections; however, studies on this are limited.

Aids In Muscle Growth

Some take alfalfa leaf for muscle growth as it contains a good source of protein, magnesium, and zinc, all of which are essential nutrients in muscle-protein synthesis. (Source)

While these nutrients are essential for muscle building, these sources can be found in higher amounts in animal proteins such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products. (Source)

Nourishes Skin

There are several potential benefits of alfalfa sprouts for skin health. Because of the rich antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds in alfalfa, it can help to protect the skin from damage that may lead to premature signs of aging.

It also contributes to a rich source of various essential vitamins and minerals that can help keep the skin healthy and glowing.

Alfalfa Leaf FAQs

FAQs

Are Alfalfa Sprouts Safe to Eat?

Alfalfa sprouts are safe to eat raw however, it is discouraged for those with a compromised immune system to consume raw alfalfa sprouts as there is a risk of contamination. Young children, the elderly, and women who are pregnant should avoid consuming raw sprouts. To reduce the risk of foodborne illness, you can cook your alfalfa sprouts before eating them. (Source)

Are Alfalfa Sprouts Gluten Free?

Alfalfa sprouts are safe to enjoy for those following a gluten-free diet. Unless they are included in a product that contains gluten or served at a restaurant where cross-contamination may occur, alfalfa sprouts are naturally free of gluten.

Are Alfalfa Sprouts Keto-Friendly?

Alfalfa sprouts contain very low amounts of carbohydrates, most of which are dietary fiber. Because of this, they are often included in the keto diet as an additional source of nutrients. Alfalfa sprouts are considered keto-friendly with less than half of a net carb per 100-gram serving.

Do Alfalfa Sprouts Cause Gas?

Consuming raw alfalfa sprouts can cause digestive upset in some individuals which can include bloating, gas, and even diarrhea. Cooking your sprouts before eating may help reduce these symptoms in those who are sensitive.

Do You Have To Cook Alfalfa Sprouts?

You do not have to cook alfalfa sprouts before eating unless you have a compromised immune system. Raw sprouts have been linked to several foodborne illnesses including salmonella. Those who are pregnant, elderly, or young children should only consume cooked sprouts.

Can Alfalfa Sprouts Make You Sick?

Alfalfa sprouts can make you sick if they have been contaminated with bacteria that cause foodborne illness. If you are concerned about alfalfa sprouts making you sick, consider cooking them before eating.

Are Alfalfa Sprouts A Superfood?

Some consider alfalfa sprouts to be a “superfood” which is a food that contains a rich source of nutrients. While superfood is not a scientific term, it shines a spotlight on foods like alfalfa sprouts that contain good sources of a variety of nutrients that can aid in health when consumed regularly.

Bottom Line

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Alfalfa can be a tasty addition to many meals and offers a rich source of nutrition that may provide several health benefits including boosting metabolic health, reducing inflammation, and protecting our cells against damaging free radicals.

If you aren’t sure about adding alfalfa to your meals but wish to enjoy the potential health benefits, you can enjoy alfalfa in a variety of nutrition supplements including multivitamin products, green powders, capsules, and pills.

If you choose to include alfalfa in a dietary supplement, be sure to speak with your doctor or healthcare provider before doing so. While alfalfa is considered safe, it might not be appropriate for everyone, especially those who may be taking medication for a chronic condition. Alfalfa may interact with blood thinners such as Warfarin (Coumadin) and female contraceptives. 

When choosing a dietary supplement that includes alfalfa, be sure to choose one from a trusted brand that offers third-party testing for ingredient quality and purity so you know what you are getting. Look for brands that provide ingredient transparency, such as Human Tonik Supergreen Tonik powder which does not provide proprietary blends but rather lists the exact ingredients and dosages offered.

Alfalfa root has the potential to provide remarkable benefits but research is lacking, particularly when it comes to human trials, for many of its purported benefits. While that doesn’t mean it doesn’t offer them, it does mean we must proceed with caution when using alfalfa leaf for these purposes.

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