Alfalfa or lucerne - father of all food
The word alfalfa comes from Arabic and means something like "good food". And the name is no coincidence: Alfalfa seeds are bursting with health benefits and a high content of vitamins and minerals - and all this with a low calorie content.
The alfalfa plant itself also has a long, interesting history. Since the 18th century, alfalfa, which belongs to the legume family, has been cultivated in Germany as a fodder crop for animals. But there are endless advantages as to why man has now also come to alfalfa!
Alfalfa Sprouts Nutritional Values
Alfalfa sprouts or alfalfa sprouts are very low in calories, but contain a number of vitamins and minerals. This makes them a perfect, healthy addition to any meal.
A serving of 100 grams of alfalfa sprouts has (in brackets the percentage of the recommended daily value):
- 23 calories
- 2.1 g carbohydrates
- 3.99 g protein
- 0.69 g fat
- 1.9 g fibres
- 30.5 micrograms vitamin K (38 percent)
- 8.2 milligrams vitamin C (14 percent)
- 36 micrograms folic acid (9 percent)
- 0.2 milligrams manganese (9 percent)
- 0.2 milligrams copper (8 percent)
- 70 milligrams phosphorus (7 percent)
- 27 milligrams magnesium (7 percent)
- 0.1 milligram riboflavin (7 percent)
- 0.9 milligrams zinc (6 percent)
- 1 milligram iron (5 percent)
- 0.1 milligram thiamine (5 percent)
- 155 IU vitamin A (3 percent)
Why you should include alfalfa sprouts in your nutrition plan
1. they minimise the symptoms of menopause and menstrual cramps
Alfalfa sprouts can help women alleviate the symptoms of menopause and menstruation thanks to a high content of vitamin K and phytoestrogens. Vitamin K is a blood clotting vitamin that can help with excessive bleeding. The combination of vitamin K and phytoestrogens affects the regulation of estrogen. This can minimise PMS and symptoms of menopause.
2. they prevent osteoporosis
Vitamin K is an important building block of bone substance, which is why it is essential for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. The body needs vitamin K to make adequate use of the calcium that forms bone. Thanks to the growing understanding of the benefits of vitamin K for bone health and ongoing studies showing the link between bone health and increased vitamin K levels, daily recommended levels of the vitamin have been increased by about 50 percent. Alfalfa sprouts also contain a remarkable amount of manganese, which is also an essential nutrient for preventing osteoporosis and inflammation.
3. they lower the blood sugar level
A study published in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences found that alfalfa sprouts are a successful antidiabetic due to their ability to lower blood sugar levels. Regulation of blood sugar levels is essential in the treatment of diabetes and the use of foods such as alfalfa sprouts reduces dependence on insulin.
4. they are full of antioxidants and other anti-ageing agents.
Alfalfa sprouts are a proven high antioxidant food that protects our cells from free radical damage. Antioxidants promote health and can prevent a number of diseases and conditions such as cancer and heart disease. A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that alfalfa sprouts are not only useful for vitamin K deficiency, but also help prevent age-related diseases (osteoporosis, cancer, hardening of the arteries, etc.).
5. they form a valuable source of vitamin C
Alfalfa sprouts are one of the best vitamin C foods. One cup of alfalfa sprouts contains as much vitamin C as six glasses of orange juice. Since vitamin C is water soluble, we need to replenish our supply through our diet. Alfalfa sprouts are such an easy addition to meals. They are a great way to supplement your vitamin C needs - which is essential for many healthy bodily functions.
Grow alfalfa sprouts at home
Growing alfalfa sprouts at home is easy and fun! The most important basic rule: buy seeds that have not been treated with fungicides or other chemicals. You should only use organic seeds that are intended for growing sprouts.
And no matter whether you prefer to grow sprouts in a sprouting jar, have a cress sieve ready or prefer soil for growing microgreens: everything is possible with alfalfa and you are welcome to try out all three variants! 🙂
In the following we describe the most popular way to grow alfalfa sprouts, namely in a sprouting jar:
Wash the seeds (approx. 1-2 tablespoons) and soak them for 6 to 8 hours or overnight at room temperature in lukewarm water in a sprouting jar. In no case use more than 2 tablespoons, because alfalfa sprouts increase to 8 - 12 times their volume.
2. the next morning, drain the water and rinse again with lukewarm water, drain well and place on the rack at an angle so that the water can drain off.
In the following days, rinse with clean, lukewarm water at least twice a day (for example, once in the morning and once in the evening, just like we humans go to the bathroom in the morning and in the evening 😉 ). Please make sure that no lumps of sprouts form over time to prevent mould. It helps to swirl the jar vigorously while rinsing or to run your finger through the sprouts once to prevent nesting. Germination is best done at 18 to 22 degrees Celsius in a place that is not too bright or hot.
Depending on the temperature, it takes about 7-8 days until the sprouts are ready for harvesting. Ripe sprouts are best placed in a container filled with water and washed to remove seed coats and fibrous roots. The seedlings sink to the bottom and the seed pods float to the top. Now carefully pull off the seed pods by hand or with a small sieve. Drain the sprouts. The sprouts are best when used immediately after washing. However, you can also store them for several days in the refrigerator in closed glass or plastic containers or freezer bags. The size of the ripe sprouts varies. If the sprouts become too long (over 10 cm), they can become bitter.
But why do alfalfa seeds now take a whole week to land on our plate? Other seeds such as peas or fenugreek, with a germination period of about 3 days, are clearly of the faster variety....
The longer germination time is due to a natural antifungal protection of the alfalfa seed, which is only broken down after 7 days. This is the toxin canavanine. Therefore, alfalfa sprouts should not be eaten before the 7th day of germination!
Use alfalfa sprouts
The taste of alfalfa sprouts is mildly nutty, very unobtrusively light and that is why children like them so much.
Alfalfa sprouts are often used in oriental dishes and are added to soups, sandwiches, wraps and salads. But they can also be juiced and drunk as a daily power shot (e.g. together with ginger, lemon, cucumber, etc.).
In whatever form you prefer to consume alfalfa, there's no denying that they offer a delicious, low-calorie and nutrient-rich alternative to your diet.