Alfalfa Sprouts

“Studies on canavanine, an amino acid analog in alfalfa, has demonstrated benefit for pancreatic, colon and leukemia cancers. Plant estrogens are also abundant in sprouts.
 
They increase bone formation and density and prevent bone breakdown or osteoporosis. They are also helpful in controlling hot flashes, menopause, PMS and fibrocystic breasts tumours.
 
Alfalfa sprouts are one of our finest food sources of another compound, saponins. Saponins lower the bad cholesterol and fat but not the good HDL fats.
 
Animal studies prove their benefit in arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. Saponins also stimulate the immune system by increasing the activity of natural killer cells such as T- lymphocytes and interferon. The saponin content of alfalfa sprouts multiplies 450 per cent over that of the unsprouted seed.”
 
The Times of India
17 Aug 2007
Health Benefits of Sprouts
(http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2007-08-19/science/27973728_1_alfalfa-sprouts-hot-flashes-health-benefits)
 
“Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring plant-derived phytochemicals, whose common biological roles are to protect plants from stress or to act as part of a plant's defense mechanism. Although composed of a wide group of nonsteroidal compounds of diverse structure, phytoestrogens have been shown to bind estrogen receptors and to behave as weak agonist/antagonist in both animals and humans. Phytoestrogens include mainly isoflavones (IF), coumestans, and lignans. These compounds are known to be present in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains commonly consumed by humans. IF are found in legumes--mainly soybeans--whereas flaxseed is a major source of lignans, and coumestans are significantly present in clover, alfalfa, and soybean sprouts. 8-Prenyl flavonoids are common in vegetables. Bioavailability of IF requires an initial hydrolysis of the sugar moiety by intestinal beta-glucosidases to allow the following uptake by enterocytes and the flow through the peripheral circulation. Following absorption, IF are then reconjugated mainly to glucuronic acid and to a lesser degree to sulphuric acid. Gut metabolism seems key to the determination of the potency of action. Several epidemiological studies correlated high dose consumptions of soy IF with multiple beneficial effects on breast and prostate cancers, menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, atherosclerosis and stroke, and neurodegeneration. For the relief of menopausal symptoms a consumption of 60 mg aglycones/day has been suggested; for cancer prevention a consumption between 50 and 110 mg aglycones/day is considered beneficial to reduce risks of breast, colon and prostate cancer; to decrease cardiovascular risk a minimum intake of 40-60 mg aglycones/day, together with about 25 g of soy protein has been suggested. For improvement in bone mineral density, 60-100 mg aglycones/day for a period of at least 6-12 months could be beneficial.”
 
Forum Nutr.
 2005;(57):100-11.
Health effects of phytoestrogens.
Branca F, Lorenzetti S.
 
 
“Studies in humans, animals and cell culture systems suggest that dietary phytoestrogens play an important role in prevention of menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease. Broadly defined, phytoestrogens include isoflavones, coumestans, and lignans. Alfalfa sprouts, soybeans, clover and oilseeds (such as flaxseed) are the most significant dietary sources of isoflavones, coumestans, and lignans, respectively. A number of these compounds have been identified in fruits, vegetables and whole grains commonly consumed by humans.
Proposed mechanisms include estrogenic and antiestrogenic effects, induction of cancer cell differentiation, inhibition of tyrosine kinase and DNA topoisomerase activities, suppression of angiogenesis, and antioxidant effects. Although there currently are no dietary recommendations for individual phytoestrogens, there may be great benefit in increased consumption of plant foods; especially sprouts such as Alfalfa, Clover and Soybean, and flaxseed.”
 
A News Extract from the Annual Review of Nutrition,
17:353-381 1997,
DIETARY PHYTOESTROGENS
By Kurtzer MS, Xu X
“The folacin content of alfalfa (Medicago sativa) and mung bean (Vigna radiata) sprouts was determined by Lactobacillus casei. Several variations of extraction procedures were tested. The optimum conditions for extraction were autoclaving mung bean and alfalfa sprouts in phosphate buffer containing 0.3% and 0.4% ascorbate, respectively, before homogenisation in a blender. The optimum blending time for folacin extraction was 120s for mung bean and 15s for alfalfa sprouts. Folacin content on dry weight basis increased several times in both types of sprouts during germination. Mature alfalfa and mung bean sprouts were found to contain 186 and 178 g folacin per 100 g fresh weight, respectively.” 
 
Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture
Volume 36, Issue 11, Date: November 1985, Pages: 1155-1160.  
Folacin content of alfalfa and mung bean sprouts: The effect of extraction procedures and maturity
Marilyn F. Magaram, Cynthia L. Stotts, Tung-Shan Chen, Christine H. Smith, Arlene J. Kirsch.  
 
“Since alfalfa meal prevents hypercholesterolemia and atherosclerosis in rabbits and alfalfa saponins prevent the expected rise in cholesterolemia induced by dietary cholesterol in monkeys, the experiments being reported here were performed to determine whether alfalfa saponins affect atherogenesis in rabbits. In addition, the effects of alfalfa seeds were studied. Cholesterol-feb rabbits were randomly assigned to 3 groups: (a) control animals (N = 18); (b) animals maintained on a diet containing 1.0 to 1.2% alfalfa saponins (N = 18); and (c) animals maintained on a diet containing 40% alfalfa seeds (N = 17). Results after a 4-month observation period demonstrated that alfalfa saponins and alfalfa seeds reduce hypercholesterolemia, aortic sudanophilia, and the concentration of cholesterol in aortic intima-plus-media and in the liver, but do not induce changes in the hematocrit.”
 
Atherosclerosis. 
1980 Nov;37(3):433-8.  
Alfalfa saponins and alfalfa seeds. Dietary effects in cholesterol-fed rabbits.
Malinow MR, McLaughlin P, Stafford C, Livingston AL, Kohler GO.