Family: Leguminosae; other members include beans and peas
Also known as: Chilean clover, buffalo grass, and lucerne (in Britain)
Heart disease and stroke. Animal studies show that alfalfa leaves help reduce blood cholesterol levels and plaque deposits on artery walls. One study in the British medical journal Lancet documented substantial cholesterol reduction in a man who ate large amounts of alfalfa.
Cancer: One study suggests that alfalfa helps neutralize cancer-causing substances in the intestine. Another, published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, shows that the herb binds carcinogens in the colon and helps speed their elimination.
Women’s health concerns: Alfalfa seeds contain two chemicals, stachydrine and homstachydrine, that promote menstruation. They can class cause miscarriage, ,which is why pregnant women should not eat alfalfa seeds. Nor should women consider the herb a reliable contraceptive.
Bad Breath: It is a source of chlorophyll, the active ingredient in most commercial breath freshness. Sip an alfalfa infusion if you’re concerned about bad breath.