What is Alfalfa?
The Arabs named it alfalfa meaning 'father of all foods.' It is also called Buffalo Herb, Lucerne, and Purple Medic. The ancient Greeks used it to treat bladder and kidney conditions. The Chinese use alfalfa herb to treat kidney stones. For 1500 years it has been used as a food and herbal medicine. So what makes alfalfa so good?
Health benefits of alfalfa:
First, the alfalfa herb is rich in vitamins
A (eye health), E (heart and cardiovascular health), U (treats peptic ulcers), B6 (stimulates protein and fat metabolism), K (blood clotting and liver functions), and D (regulates the use of calcium
and phosphorus in the body). Second, alfalfa contains many valuable minerals such as calcium and phosphorus (bone and teeth health), iron (needed in hemoglobin), manganese (lowers blood sugar levels), potassium (muscle tone and nerves), chlorides (regulates fat, sugar and starch metabolism), sodium (regulates fluid balance), and silicon magnesium (stimulates brain function).
Alfalfa also contains eight essential enzymes: Amylase (acts on starches), Coagulase (clots blood), Emulsin (acts upon sugar), Invertase (converts cane sugar to dextrose), Lipase (fat splitting), Pectinase (forms vegetable jelly), Peroxidate (oxidizing effect of the blood), and Protase (digests proteins). These in turn help in digesting all four classes of food: proteins, fats, starches and sugars. The alfalfa herb is also rich in protein and fiber.
Alfalfa benefits lower cholesterol by attracting it to itself before the cholesterol can stick to vessel walls. The chlorophyll, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins all aid digestion and help stimulate appetites. As a mild diuretic and laxative, it may improve appetite and relieve some causes of swelling. The chlorophyll in alfalfa helps fight bad bacteria. Alfalfa may help reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels which can benefit heart health. It is used in the treatment of urinary tract infections, as well as problems with the prostate, kidney, and bladder. Alfalfa has anti-inflammatory qualities and thus can relieve pain associated with arthritis and bursitis.
Consider this list of alfalfa benefits in child birth: relieves problems of morning sickness, constipation, anemia, and heartburn; vitamin
K reduces postpartum bleeding and increases K level in the baby; increases and sustains milk supply; reduces swelling, and balances blood sugar levels. Alfalfa may reduce hot flashes in menopausal women as well.
The nutrition of alfalfa may be ingested as leaves or as a tea. It can also be purchased as a liquid, tablet, or capsule. Not all the benefits listed above may be desirable. For example, because of its blood thinning qualities, it is not recommended for those with lupus. The alfalfa herb certainly deserves the name 'the father of all foods.' Such a multitude of alfalfa benefits should motivate more people to get in on its goodness.
New research also found that alfalfa sprouts and other sprouted vegetables (like broccoli and clover sprouts), may help protect new cells from DNA damage. In the trial conducted on human cells in vitro, researchers at the University of Ulster's School of Biomedical Sciences found that whilst sprouts didn't improve the health of already damaged DNA, it did protect cells from new damage. DNA damage is a biochemical indicator of cancer.
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