Something about the word “sprouts” just makes my skin crawl. There’s not even a good reason for this as alfalfa sprouts and I don’t share a particularly horrendous past beyond my reluctance to eat them and my mother’s insistence that they were excellent. To this day I’m not entirely sure that I’ve had a full helping of alfalfa sprouts, despite some curiosity in recent years. Whether you love them or hate them, or couldn’t care either way, alfalfa sprouts are getting the spotlight for today’s nutrition facts article, so let’s make the best of it and jump on in!
Alfalfa Sprouts Culture and History
We’re not entirely sure when alfalfa and their sprouts were properly introduced to the world, but we do have records from the 4th century AD that seem to shed some light on the mystery. At that time, Roman writer Palladius took notes detailing the best way to grow alfalfa, though mentioned it as “medica,” a name that seems to pay reference to the Medes, a group of people who lived in what is now Iran. This means that as far as we can tell, alfalfa started in ancient Iran, though that’s all we can figure. We do know that at the time, it wasn’t a very popular grain and seemed to be exclusive to Rome.
Those curious where we get the name “alfalfa” then may have to wait until the 13th century when an Arabic dictionary start referring to it as “al-fisfisa,” which then got taken by the Spanish and converted into the name “alfalfa.” As alfalfa could be consumed either fresh (as we typically do) or dry, it wasn’t eaten by humans as much as it was used as horse-feed.
The US wouldn’t get alfalfa until the 1850’s when alfalfa seeds were finally imported to California from Chile, an action that resulted in an explosion of alfalfa growth throughout the United States, specifically the western half. Oddly, in France, Germany, Britain, and Australia, alfalfa is commonly called “lucerne” or “luzerne,” the French term for it. However, thank to North and South America becoming the dominant producers of the world’s alfalfa, our term seems to be catching on as the standard. Hooray for us!
Health Benefits of Alfalfa Sprouts
Perhaps one of the biggest facts in favor of sprouts is that they contain essentially every single vitamin you’d possibly need, including vitamins A, C, E, K, and even the complex B vitamins like B12. Oh, and not just vitamins but minerals, too. Calcium, magnesium, manganese, folic acid, phosphorus, silicon, sodium, zinc, potassium, and molybdenum. Oh wow, that last one’s new to me! Good for you alfalfa, surprising me with new minerals!
As you’d assume, packing that much nutritional content into something that’s essentially free of calories can only do good things for a body. Tossing sprouts into a juicer will give you some of the healthiest juice the world can offer, which helps it to reduce blood pressure, treat arthritis to a certain extent (a compound in the sprouts actually inhibits inflammation from occurring), and of course reduce the ruisk of certain types of cancer. You just can’t be considered produce these days if you’re not reducing the risk of some cancer or another!
Early Chinese medicines tend to have a similar theory that alfalfa sprouts are inherently good for the body as they’re used frequently to treat problems with digestion (they are mild enough to be consumed by anyone), plus they were used in a type of poultice to soothe and treat boils. Hooray for alfalfa sprouts then! Looks like there’s nothing they can’t do!
Eating More Alfalfa Sprouts
Finding creative ways to eat alfalfa sprouts seems to be both incredibly simple and incredibly challenging. On the one hand, you can very easily add some sprouts to a sandwich, which seems to be the standard and most preferred method for sprout-consumption, or you can toss them into a salad and go all-veg in one glorious meal.
Seems that the most work sprouts get is in sandwiches or sandwich-like items, such as burgers and wraps and tortillas and such, so if you ever want to add just a little more to that sandwich or sandwich-like thing, sprouts are the way to go. Of course, you could always bake the alfalfa right into the bread itself as well, but that’s just getting crazy.
Assuming you’re looking for something a bit more streamlined (and that’s saying something as sandwiches are pretty streamlined as they are), green smoothies are the perfect place to pack in just a bit more nutrition in one simple convenient drinkable meal. Their essential for those of us who feel like we never have time in the morning for a full breakfast and zoom out the door without eating more than a banana or a cup of coffee. Go ahead and try a green smoothie today if you have even the slightest bit of curiosity and you won’t be disappointed!
And there you have it, you can check alfalfa sprouts off of the to-do list for nutrition facts articles. Who out there is a huge sprout fan? Do you add them to every sandwich you can? Or do you prefer the smoothie route? Leave a comment and let me know, especially if you have recipes to share! I need some good suggestions for how best to introduce sprouts into my life, so any help is greatly appreciated!