Alfalfa and its properties: collection and nutritional principles



by LORENZO CIOTTI

Alfalfa and its properties: collection and nutritional principles

Stefania Montori and Lucia De Carolis came back to talk with us about an interesting topic for the column: Among nature, history and territory: tradition meets science. Stefania and Lucia are telling us about alfalfa.

COLLECTION

The alfalfa in the garden will have to be cut when it blooms to then carry out the green manuring (already explained above).

If you want to use it again as forage, harvesting takes place 90-100 days after planting to obtain more nutritious and better quality forage. After each cutting of alfalfa, it regenerates new vegetation that has better organoleptic characteristics and with a greater amount of proteins and sugars.

It lasts up to 10-15 years, but usually doesn't last more than 4 years due to various adversities. The success of the medica is given by the fact that it is endowed with many virtues, not necessarily linked to nutritional properties.

this vegetable is also called nitrogen-fixing as its cultivation naturally enriches the soil with nitrogen, which instead drastically decreases after each cultivation. But the success of the medica is also due to its reproductive cycle: it is in fact capable of self-pollinating and, three months after sowing, it already produces seed.

Finally, we can certainly say that over the years this plant has obtained a fundamental role against the pollution produced by agricultural activities during the so-called annual rotation of cereals.

NUTRITIONAL PRINCIPLES

Having very deep roots, which even reach 15 meters, Medicago Sativa reaches and assimilates minerals that other plants could not reach; it also makes use of underground water resources, thus not fearing drought.

The leaves, which constitute the most nutritious part of the alfalfa, are trifoliate like those of the clover but unlike the latter they distinguish the central leaflet is supported by a short petiole. Each leaf has an ovate - lanceolate shape with a slightly denticulated margin only in the upper third.

It is rich in: Saponin, Chlorophyll, Soluble and insoluble fibers, Alkaloids, Mineral salts (Boron, Calcium, Cobalt, Iron, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Manganese, Potassium, Copper, Sodium, Silicon), 8 digestive enzymes useful for the assimilation of food, Phytoestrogens, Vitamins (provitamin A, B, C, D, E, K, U).

It would seem that an essential role is given by the innumerable quantities of saponins contained and with enormous therapeutic potential: they are in fact molecules capable of binding to bile acids, interfering with the absorption of cholesterol and thus exerting an action hypocholesterolemic.

In practice, we "eat" bad cholesterol, helping the whole body to function properly

Curiosities and uses other than forage

Although there are no official verifications, which could confirm the therapeutic efficacy of alfalfa.

The favorite parts are the flowers and leaves, more generally the whole plant, with the exception of the roots. For those who need an anti-inflammatory or a healing agent, alfalfa is certainly a valuable aid: one of its principles, in fact, is saponin.

Some might object, considering this a toxic substance. In reality, in order for saponin to become dangerous, its molecule must not split (impossible, since digestion extrapolates the nutritional values ​​that are functional to the body).

Even oats (commonly eaten by young and old) contain saponin! Alfalfa is useful for those who suffer from high cholesterol or blood sugar, thanks to the presence of soluble fiber. These increase the number of useful bacteria in the colon, avoid the exaggerated absorption of fats and sugars, prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

Obviously there is no lack of insoluble fibers, such as cellulose, which improve intestinal transit, avoiding problems such as constipation and inflammation of the diverticula. Another chemical constituent present in Medicago Sativa is phytoestrogen (cumestrol to be precise).

Its use is recommended for all menopausal women who do not want or cannot rely on classic hormonal therapies. Phytoestrogen is a natural substance similar to estrogen (female hormones) and is able to decrease hot flashes, cholesterolemia and the incidence of breast cancer in postmenopausal women.

In eastern populations, where the use of legumes is daily, there was a low level of osteoporosis or cardiovascular disease, unlike in western populations, where nutrients with a high protein content prevail. Restorative, nourishing and stimulating, Alfalfa is excellent for those with a lack of vitamins and minerals.

Vitamin K is functional for maintaining strong bones, but it is also a good blood coagulant. Vitamin C counteracts the forms of scurvy, repeated bleeding and anemia. Furthermore, to combat anemia, alfalfa "uses" the abundant amount of chlorophyll it contains.

Vitamins B6, C and E help to purify the liver, the U limits the onset of ulcers and gastritis; Vitamin A, combined with chlorophyll, becomes an excellent antimicrobial.
This herb also plays an important role in stimulating the thyroid gland, therefore it is very suitable for people with problems related to its malfunction.
The minerals present in it play a fundamental role in the proper functioning of all living organisms.

Alfalfa is also suitable for people with low appetite or who have eating problems, even obesity. Taking this herb before meals increases gastro-intestinal activity; after meals, on the other hand, it facilitates the absorption of the most important nutrients.

It is perfect for enriching breast milk with many properties and for increasing its production. Finally, alfalfa also acts as a natural laxative and diuretic. It can also be used to produce excellent honey and to make cosmetics. It also finds a field of use in nutraceuticals.