Alfalfa is a flowering plant in the pea family. Native to South Asia, it is widely used as a food source and forage crop. Its name comes from the Arabic for "father of all foods" and it is known for its high nutritional value.
Because of its extensive root system, alfalfa absorbs large quantities of minerals from the soil. It is used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for kidney and bladder health.
Alfalfa is rich in protein and has high levels of vitamins A, C and K. It is a good source of iron, magnesium and calcium, and is particularly high in phytoestrogens.
Studies have shown that the saponin in alfalfa can reduce levels of cholesterol in the blood, as well as helping to reduce fat build up in arteries. Alfalfa is extremely high in chlorophyll, which is known to help promote healthy blood clotting and to regulate hormones. Chlorophyll is also thought to have a detoxifying effect on the body.
Alfalfa can be eaten in many forms, whether raw in salads or sandwiches or added to soups and other meals. Alfalfa seeds can also be sprouted and then consumed. As a supplement, alfalfa can be taken as a juice, a powder or a tablet.