(lat. Medicago sativa)
Other names: Buffalo herb, Purple medic, Mu Xu, Purple medical, Sanfoin,
What is alfalfa
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a perennial plant up to 2 ft (50 cm) tall, part of the Fabaceae family, the same as the meadow clover. They are very similar in shape and color to flowers – purple to red-purple.
Lucerne, originally comes from southern and central Asia. But now you can find it almost all over the world. Initially, it was grown as an excellent feed for livestock. Therefore, it is also called bison or cow grass. However, people soon realized that what is nutritious for livestock, will probably be nutritious also for them. Not in a humiliating way though. They needed their livestock to be healthy, because it was their source of meat, milk, leather etc. And they weren’t wrong.
Lucerne is really very generous for beneficial substances for our body. It contains e.g. important vitamin K and C, calcium, folic acid and many more. At the same time, thanks to its nutritional composition, it reduces the feeling of hunger and thus helps to reduce weight. When consumed fresh in the form of sprouts, it has a bitter-sweet grassy flavor. In this case, however, it is necessary to know its origin so that it does not contain harmful substances from the soil. Alternatively, you can purchase alfalfa seeds at a health food store and sprout them at home.
Thanks to their tremendous nutritional richness, alfalfa sprouts were a grateful source of nutrition. However, this herb also has something to say in the world of folk medicine. It helps to treat a wide variety of health issues.
Health Benefits of Alfalfa
- high-antioxidant, helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals,
- fights inflammation and strengthens immunity,
- relieves painful menstruation and alleviates the negative symptoms of menopause,
- accelerates wound healing,
- promotes weight reduction,
- lowers blood sugar and prevents unwanted cholesterol build-up,
- helps with anemia,
- promotes proper digestion,
- beneficial for heart,
- helps with urinary tract infections,
- improving the quality of skin, nails and hair.
Another possibility is to add it to foods and drinks in dried form. Grinding to a fine powder is very practical. You can easily prepare a tasty decoction or add it to smoothies, yogurts, etc.
Lucerne is not recommended for pregnant women and people suffering from blood clotting disorders.
Fresh alfalfa sprouts are considered safe but may cause side effects in some people. Due to its high fiber content, consuming raw alfalfa can cause gas, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea.
If you decide to take an alfalfa supplement in any form, always follow the dose on the product label.
Alfalfa is widely available in health food stores as an herbal tea, tincture, powder or dried herb.
Alfalfa in the kitchen
Is it without the doubt a good choice to improve your healthy eating habits. You can add Lucerne to your soups, salads, wraps or sandwiches.
Stir-Fried: It takes only up to 30 seconds before they start wilting. So, you must be attentive. It’s better to saute all vegetables upfront and then add sprouts at the end.
Cooking: Add alfalfa sprouts to soups and stews. When the soup has finished cooking, mix in the alfalfa sprouts. The hot water will slightly cook the sprouts keeping their crunchy texture.
Toasting: Place the alfalfa sprouts in a tray and put them in the pre-heated oven for no more than minute or two. This will “toast” the sprouts, giving them a crispy texture while cooking them and getting rid of any bacteria that might be present. Take them out before they turn brown. And they are ready for your salads or sandwiches.