Got Sprouts? Health Benefits of Alfalfa: What makes a sprout so good for you?
Sprouting is the moment of greatest vitality in a plant’s life cycle, the phase in which the seed activates and makes its way through the topsoil and sprouts into the fresh air above. At this high point of metabolic and enzymatic changes, the sprout contains high levels of nutrients.
And that’s what makes sprouts good for you, particularly Alfalfa.
Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) is a legume that is also considered an herb. The leaves and seeds can be used fresh, or dried for supplements, and the sprouts are enjoyed with meals. It’s high in Vitamins A, C, and K and contains several B vitamins.
A good source of dietary fiber, copper, magnesium, and iron, Alfalfa contains active plant compounds currently being evaluated for benefits in women’s health, managing high cholesterol, and effects on the nervous and cardiovascular systems.
If you’re not a fan of the flavor of alfalfa sprouts, you’re in the luck as the availability of other types of “early growth” produce has increased a great deal over the last few years. You might try broccoli sprouts, which are noted for their high concentration of glucoraphanin, a glucosinate that converts to sulforaphane in the body. Sulforaphane has potent anti-cancer properties.
You could also pick up some microgreens at your local farmer’s market. Microgreens have been grown a bit longer than sprouts–typically 1-2 weeks compared to sprouts 4-6 days–and grow in soil rather than water, where sprouts are germinated. Still, they can offer you a concentrated source of antioxidants and add a punch of flavor to salads and entrees. There are plenty of types to try from cilantro, broccoli, arugula, kale, radish, beet, and more.
When it comes to sprouts, you want to select those that have been kept chilled in the produce section and choose organic when possible. The International Sprout Growers Association (ISGA) seal on a product indicates the sprouts have been carefully grown and handled.
Look for clean roots with a creamy white color. Buds should be attached to the stem. Sprouts should be odorless. Keep sprouts refrigerated and use within 2 days of the sell-by date on the package. You could also try these wonderful, grow-at-home alfalfa sprouting seeds; they’re:
*known origin and local when possible
*easy to use
*highly recommended by others
Plus, they only take about 4-5 days to be usable atop salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish for prepared entrees. Enjoy!