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Alfalfa Sprouts: A Highly Nutrient Dense Food

Posted by SoundHealth on Tuesday, June 09, 2009

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All types of sprouts are nutritious and energy-giving, but the tiny, delicate alfalfa variety is the best of a very good bunch.

Sprouting seeds and beans increases the amount of available vitamins. The exact nutritional content of sprouts varies according to the kind of bean or seed they sprouted from, but alfalfa sprouts are an unusually concentrated source of nutrients. They are packed with nutrients, enzymes and fiber; easy to digest; and contain very few calories, making them an excellent choice.

Alfalfa is a legume and alfalfa sprouts are derived from alfalfa seeds. They are white and thread-like, with tiny green tops.

Alfalfa sprouts are particularly high in:

  • Vitamins B, C, D E, K
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Zinc
  • fiber

Inside the seeds (and beans, too) of all sprouts, are the nutrients needed to trigger the growth of the next generation of plants. This is why sprouted seeds and beans are so nutrient dense with readily bioavailable vitamins, minerals, proteins, etc.

Health Benefits

One of the significant health benefits of alfalfa sprouts are attributed to their saponin content. Saponins are plant molecules that, when ingested, act within the intestinal tract and do not enter the rest of the body i.e. are nonsytemic. Animal studies show saponins benefit in arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Saponins also stimulate the immune system by increasing the activity of natural killer cells such as T- lymphocytes and interferon.

The saponin content of alfalfa sprouts multiplies an amazing 450% over that of the unsprouted seed.

Studies on another compound in alfalfa, canavanine, an amino acid analog, has demonstrated benefits for pancreatic, colon and leukemia cancers.

However, some research studies have also associated canavanine with worsening of inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus. Individuals with chronic inflammatory conditions, including autoimmune conditions, may want to avoid alfalfa sprouts for this reason.

Plant estrogens are abundant in sprouts. They increase bone formation and density and prevent bone breakdown or osteoporosis. They are also helpful in controlling hot flashes, menopause, PMS and fibrocystic breasts tumors.

Alfalfa juice

A refreshing and nutritious drink can be made from alfalfa sprouts or alfalfa leaves.

To prepare your sprouts for juicing simply rinse them, drain them and then wrap them up tightly in something like a lettuce leaf. Feed the stuffed lettuce leaf into the juicer. This should help the juicer extract the juice from the alfalfa sprouts more efficiently.

Alternatively, allow the sprouts to develop leaves and then extract the juice from them.

Alfalfa juice tastes mild and can be mixed with any other juices.

Summary

Sprouts are cheap, easy to grow and guaranteed free of chemicals if you do it yourself at home. Because they are eaten whilst still extremely young, "alive" and rapidly developing, sprouts have been acclaimed as the most enzyme-rich food around. To learn how to sprout your own seeds and beans, check out the article Sprouted Seeds: Grow Your Own and Reap the Nutritional Benefits.


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