Vegetables

Alfalfa Health Benefits

Also known as alfalfa, purple-flower alfalfa and meadow melga, alfalfa is a leguminous plant with perennial leaves, belonging to the Fabaceae family , the same as peas and beans.

As for the appearance, it has trifoliate leaves (three leaflets) and blue or violet flowers. Usually cultivated as forage (for pasture and animal feed), this plant, when erect, can reach 80 cm to 1 m in height.

But what you need to know about alfalfa is that it has a lot to contribute to our health. Let’s get to know a little more about this vegetable and all the benefits it can bring to your life?

MEANING OF ALFALFA

Alfalfa has roots in Southwest Asia or North Africa and its meaning says a lot about it. This word of Arabic originates from the expression “al-fa-facah”, which means “the father of all foods”.

Its scientific name Medicago sativa , in turn, indicates its location in “North Africa” (Medicago) and “long cultivation” (sativa).

ALFALFA FOR HORSES

Even though there is no absolute certainty about its origin, it is likely that alfalfa was first cultivated in Persia, hundreds of years before Christ. In ancient times, this legume was of great importance to the Arab peoples, who used it to feed their horses, in order to face long distances.

Until today, the use of alfalfa for horses is indicated to strengthen and enhance the performance of the animal.

However, most people are unaware of how beneficial it is for human consumption. Inserted in our menu, in the form of salads, soups or teas, or even as a natural medicine, this plant can bring great benefits to our health.

WHERE TO FIND ALFALFA

Alfalfa arrived in Brazil through Rio Grande do Sul, through sprouts brought from Argentina and Uruguay. Although it is cultivated in some states, it is still not a widespread crop. According to Embrapa, among the factors that hinder the expansion of its cultivation in the country is the limited knowledge, on the part of rural producers, about the requirements of this type of plant, as well as the low production of seeds.

Even so, alfalfa is sold in open markets, markets, natural food stores and compounding pharmacies.

You will find it both in its natural form and in the form of capsules and tinctures. Either way, alfalfa will bring you great benefits.

ALFALFA PROPERTIES

Alfalfa is a very nutritious food for human consumption, as it has considerable levels of proteins and vitamins. According to experts, it contains eight essential enzymes for our body, responsible for preventing various diseases, in particular, the digestive system.

  • Rich in the minerals calcium, iron, zinc, phosphorus and manganese and vitamins C, E and K, it helps to strengthen the immune system.
  • Diuretic and digestive action – prevents gastritis and ulcers, in addition to preventing gas accumulation.
  • Detoxifying action – It has saponin, a substance that acts as an emulsifier, reducing absorption of bad fats and fluid retention.
  • Blood purifying action – Rich in calcium, iron, potassium, among other minerals, it has a vasodilator effect, improving blood flow.
  • Helping to gain muscle mass – As it contains a large amount of vegetable protein (100 g of alfalfa are equivalent to the same nutrients as 100 ml of milk), it is highly recommended for good performance in training and sports.
  • Sedative and calming effect – it works in a positive way in the treatment of anxiety and nervousness.
  • Assist in the process of weight loss – In addition to being low in calories, it helps to eliminate toxins and produces a feeling of satiety, which is very important for weight loss.

ALFALFA BENEFITS

Due to the amount of proteins found not only in alfalfa sprouts, but also in its leaves and flowers, this vegetable is considered a plant with great therapeutic properties that helps to combat various health problems. Get to know some indications for using this vegetable:

  • Alfalfa for anemia – Because it contains vitamin K, it is very beneficial to treat anemia and convalescence.
  • Alfalfa for anorexia – The infusion of alfalfa sprouts provides easy-to-absorb nutrients that help combat poor appetite and anorexia nervosa.
  • Alfalfa in menopause – Because it contains estrogenic isoflavones, it has been shown to be very positive in fighting menopause symptoms, such as excessive heat and night sweats.
  • Alfalfa for osteoporosis – It has a hormonal action that favors bone strengthening.
  • Alfalfa for the skin and hair – Because it contains vitamin E, it invigorates the skin’s appearance and strengthens the hair strands.

ALFALFA BREASTFEEDING, THE NATURAL SOLUTION

Knowing that the quality of breast milk is very important for the baby’s development, many mothers are concerned when they feel that they are producing too little milk. A good indication comes from nature.

Alfalfa is considered a galactagogue food , that is, it helps to improve the quality and increase the production of breast milk. If it is good to have this gift in nature, even better is knowing that we can find alfalfa in capsules and tinctures in compounding pharmacies.

It is always important to consult your doctor before consuming. See below the types of manipulated alfalfa and how to consume it to improve the quality of your milk:

– 500 mg capsules – produced under prescription in compounding pharmacies. It is recommended to take 01 capsule 3 times a day.

– Tincture – available in 200 ml bottles in pharmacies – It is recommended to take 20 drops, 3 times a day.

Both alfalfa leaves and sprouts are used to make the supplements.

HOW TO CONSUME ALFALFA ON A DAILY BASIS

How about alfalfa into your eating routine? With a very pleasant taste, it has the advantage of combining a good amount of proteins with a low caloric value. This very complete vegetable is very good for our body. And what’s better, everything is used in it. The leaves, flowers and buds can be used in the preparation of teas, salads and soups.

Discover some ways to consume alfalfa and enjoy its therapeutic properties:

ALFALFA TEA

Much appreciated, alfalfa tea is not only delicious. Taken on an empty stomach, it helps to recalcify bones, fight rickets and help you lose weight. In addition to being a natural tranquilizer, it serves to combat cystitis and acts on the digestive function.

Its preparation is very simple:

  1. Take dried alfalfa leaves or roots (you should dry them in the shade to prevent them from withering, thus preserving their therapeutic properties).
  2. In a liter of boiling water, add 02 tablespoons of alfalfa (leaves and roots). Simmer for 2-3 minutes and turn off.
  3. Cover the container and let it stand for about ten minutes.
  4. Strain and set aside for consumption.
  5. It is recommended to drink a cup of alfalfa tea four times a week, alternating days.

ALFALFA SPROUTS IN THE SALAD

Another way to consume the vegetable is to use alfalfa sprouts as a component of the salad. For this, it must be washed carefully, in order to eliminate impurities and chemical substances. Chop into small pieces and season to taste.

DETOX JUICE WITH ALFALFA

This recipe is unbeatable for anyone who enjoys a fitness drink.

  1. Blend about 50 grams of alfalfa sprouts with 1 cup of water in a blender.
  2. Add 06 mint leaves and 01 cabbage leaf.
  3. Drink immediately to preserve the plant’s properties.

CAUTIONS WHEN CONSUMING ALFALFA

Even being a very beneficial vegetable, alfalfa has the following contraindications.

  • Patients being treated with anticoagulants (aspirin or warfarin).
  • Children, elderly and people in a situation of low immunity (due to the risk of contamination by bacteria).
  • Contraindicated for people suffering from lupus, gout and cancer.
  • Women who take birth control pills should be cautious about using alfalfa as it can reduce its effectiveness.

When buying fresh alfalfa, pay close attention to the origin of alfalfa seeds and sprouts.

Vegetables of dubious origin may be contaminated by bacteria that cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and fever.

To prevent this from happening, when buying, prefer the product with organic certification and wash it carefully before preparation.

HOW TO PLANT ALFALFA

Forage plant, that is, which serves as pasture and food for livestock, planting alfalfa helps enrich the land, which now has a large amount of nitrogen.

This legume lives from four to eight years and its stem reaches a height between 80 cm and 1 m. With oval and toothed leaves, its flowers are small and blue or violet in color. With a long stem, alfalfa has deep roots, which makes it very resistant, even to periods of drought.

Another characteristic of this vegetable is its autotoxicity. This means that the alfalfa seed will hardly germinate in places where the vegetable already exists. Therefore, cultivation must be alternated with crops of other species, such as corn or wheat.

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Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

Robert Asprin

Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.

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