When people ask me what my favorite herbs are, they are often surprised to hear that alfalfa is among them. Most people nowadays view this plant as a staple food for livestock, which it is – and for good reason. Alfalfa boasts a multitude of uses – both medicinal and nutritional, for man and beast.
It is a mild food and completely non-toxic. It is a “seed bearing,” green herb, fulfilling the Biblical specifications in Genesis 1:29-30.
It develops deep tap roots that burrow down over 100 feet into the earth to access the “dust of the earth,” and then convert it into a form that we can readily assimilate.
Because of these deep taproots, Alfalfa is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B-12, C, D, E, and K, as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, and iron. It is also a rich source of protein and dietary fiber.
Most people who eat alfalfa are primarily choose to eat the sprouts. Alfalfa sprouts are the young, tender shoots of the alfalfa plant that are typically harvested within 7-10 days of germination, while a mature alfalfa plant is typically harvested when it is several months old and has grown to full size.
One major difference between the two is their vitamin and mineral content. Alfalfa sprouts are higher in vitamin C, B-12, folate, and potassium compared to mature alfalfa plants. This is because these nutrients are more concentrated in the young shoots, as they are required for the rapid growth and development of the plant.
Mature alfalfa plants, on the other hand, are higher in vitamin K and calcium, which are important for the development of strong bones and teeth. Additionally, the fiber content of mature alfalfa plants is higher than that of alfalfa sprouts, which may have implications for digestive health.
Another difference between the two is their phytochemical content. Alfalfa sprouts are higher in certain phytochemicals such as saponins and flavonoids, which have been linked to various health benefits including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These compounds may be more concentrated in the sprouts, as they are needed to protect the young plant from environmental stressors.
In addition to its nutritional value, alfalfa has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments. Its high levels of antioxidants and phytoestrogens make it a popular choice for women’s health issues, such as menopause and PMS symptoms.
Alfalfa has also been found to have anti-inflammatory properties, which make it an effective treatment for arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Its high fiber content also makes it beneficial for digestive health, helping to regulate bowel movements and improve nutrient absorption.
Furthermore, alfalfa has been studied for its potential to lower cholesterol levels and improve heart health. Its saponin content may help to prevent the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines, while its flavonoids and isoflavones have been shown to have a positive impact on cardiovascular health.