Alfalfa sprouts are primarily the germinated seedlings of the alfalfa plant which is botanically known as the Medicago Sativa. Its leaves have a bitter taste, but the young seedlings have a milder flavor. It is a native to South and Central Asia but is now grown in many other regions of the world. The name “Alfalfa” comes from the Arabic phrase, “Al-final-fa” which means “Father of all foods”.
Alfalfa sprouts are used not only for its culinary purposes but also for its medicinal purposes as a herb. Alfalfa sprouts are an amazing source of various nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and polyphenols, etc. that provides a number of health, and beauty benefits.
However, it is advisable to consume these sprouts in moderation as an excess of everything is bad, and the same holds true for the alfalfa sprouts. In this article, we will talk about the major side effects that may arise on consuming alfalfa sprouts in excessive quantity.
Side Effects of Eating Too Much Alfalfa Sprouts
(1) Too Much Dietary Fiber Is Bad For Stomach
Regular and moderate consumption of alfalfa sprouts is very beneficial for our stomach and thus helps in improving our digestive health in a significant manner. This advantage of alfalfa sprouts is mainly because of the presence of dietary fibers in them.
The dietary fibers present in the alfalfa sprouts acts as a natural laxative which means it improves bowel movement and ensures smooth elimination of stool from our system.
This not only relieves constipation but also provides relief from other gastrointestinal issues such as abdominal pain, irritable bowel syndrome, gas, flatulence and bloating, etc.
Although dietary fibers in the alfalfa sprouts are beneficial for our digestive health, it is advisable to be on the safe side and consume these spouts in moderation as excessive intake of dietary fibers is known to give rise to digestive issues such as poor absorption of the essential nutrients from the food, intestinal gas, intestinal bloating, abdominal pain and constipation etc.
The dietary fibers are very efficient in absorbing excess fluid from our system, and this makes them very effective to combat against diarrhea.
However, large intake of dietary fibers without drinking plenty of water may even drain our system out of the essential fluid level, and thereby increases the risk of digestive problems like indigestion, abdominal pain, and constipation, etc. Not having enough water may also affect our kidneys in an adverse manner, making it difficult for them to flush out toxins and other harmful substances out of the body.
(2) May Cause Antioxidants Overload
Alfalfa sprouts are an excellent source of antioxidants and other relevant antioxidantal compounds such as phytonutrients and polyphenols etc. that provides us numerous health and beauty benefits. The fight with the free radicals in our body, stabilizes them and prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells, and thus reduces the risk of various cancers.
Antioxidants are also known to improve our cardiovascular health as they protect our arteries from the ill effects of the free radical damage, and also they keep our neurological system healthy and thus minimizes the risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease, etc.
They are also beneficial in protecting our skin, hair, and scalp from the oxidative stress caused by the free radicals, and thus minimizes the risk of premature aging, wrinkles, fine lines, age spots, dark spots and skin blemishes, etc.
They also aid with the skin detoxification, and thus minimizes the risk of acne and pimples, etc.
Although antioxidants are very beneficial for us and provide numerous benefits, it is recommended to be on the safe side and not to over consume them.
This is because a high intake of antioxidants over a prolonged period of time is known to cause more harm than the good in our system.
According to a research conducted by the National Cancer Institute, it was observed that smokers who took high doses of beta-carotene supplements on a regular basis for a prolonged period of time were more vulnerable to developing lung cancer in comparison to the individuals who didn’t.
In another study conducted by the Office of the dietary supplement, high doses of vitamin E was found to increase the risk of hemorrhagic stroke in the individuals. In layman’s term, it is an emergency condition in which a ruptured blood vessel causes bleeding inside the brain. (source)
This negative effect of the antioxidants is primarily because of the way they interact with the free radicals in our body. When antioxidants are taken in moderation, they not only combats against the free radicals in our body, but also stabilizes them and thus prevents them from causing oxidative damage to our cells, and thereby minimizes the risk of various cancers.
However, when the level of antioxidants is too much then initially they react with the free radicals to stabilize them, but later they start reacting with the healthy cells of our body, and causes oxidative damage to our cells, and hence the increased risk of various cancers.
Suggested Read- 29 Amazing Health & Beauty Benefits of Alfalfa Sprouts
(3) Increases The Risk Of Hypoglycemia
Regular and moderate intake of alfalfa sprouts is very beneficial for people with diabetes, and for those who are at the risk of developing diabetes.
This benefit of alfalfa sprouts is primarily because of its low glycemic index. Glycemic index of a food item is the scale from 0 to 100 that determines the rate at which a particular food item will release sugar into the bloodstream.
Being a low glycemic index food means, alfalfa sprouts release sugar into the bloodstream at a slow pace, and thus keeps blood sugar under control.
In addition to this, alfalfa sprouts are also rich in terms of dietary fibers that slow down the rate at which sugar gets absorbed by the bloodstream and thus helps in managing diabetes.
Although alfalfa sprouts are good for the diabetics, it is advisable to be on the safe side and consume these sprouts in moderation.
This is because excessive intake of alfalfa sprouts may lower our blood sugar to a dangerously low level and thereby increases the risk of hypoglycemia.
Hypoglycemia is a condition in which our blood sugar drops down below the normal range and is characterized by the symptoms such as excessive sweating, excessive hunger, fainting, fatigue, lightheadedness, dryness or tingling mouth, etc. (source)
Additionally, if you are a diabetic patient and already taking medications for the same, then overindulging in alfalfa sprouts may worsen the situation due to its interference with the medication.
(4) Might Develop Allergic Reactions In Some Individuals
Being a good source of various essential nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytonutrients, polyphenols and dietary fibers etc. alfalfa sprouts are very beneficial for us and `provides a number of health benefits like reduced cancer risk, treating menstruation irregularities, promoting weight loss, regulating blood sugar, etc., and as well as a number of beauty benefits such as treating skin pigmentation, increased collagen production, aids in skin detoxification, etc.
Although alfalfa sprouts are very effective for us and provide a number of health and beauty benefits, it is not suitable for all of us.
This is because there might be some individuals who are allergic to alfalfa sprouts, and they may develop allergic reactions to consuming alfalfa sprouts.
Some common allergic symptoms that may arise due to alfalfa sprouts are sneezing, sinus congestion, runny nose, difficulty in breathing, hay fever and so on.
If you are allergic to alfalfa sprouts then it is advisable to keep alfalfa sprouts out of your food plate.
(5) May Cause Hypotension
Consuming alfalfa sprouts on a regular and moderate basis is very beneficial for providing relief from hypertension or high blood pressure which affects millions of people around the world, and is also a prime cause for the various cardiovascular problems such as heart attack, heart stroke, irregular heartbeat and so on.
Alfalfa sprouts are very found to be very effective when it comes to keeping our blood pressure under control.
This advantage of alfalfa sprouts is primarily because of the presence of potassium in it.
Potassium is a natural vasodilator that relaxes our blood vessels, improves blood circulation and thus provides relief from hypertension or high blood pressure.
In addition to this, the dietary fibers in the alfalfa sprouts also play a significant role in keeping blood pressure under control as it prevents our arteries from getting clogged due to the accumulation of plaque and fat deposits, and thus helps with the efficient blood flow within the circulatory system.
Although the alfalfa sprouts can do wonders when it comes to blood pressure regulation, it is advisable to be on the safe side, and enjoy these sprouts in moderation.
This is because a high level of potassium in our system may lower our blood pressure to an abnormally low level giving rise to hypotension.
Hypotension is a condition in which the blood pressure drops down below the normal range, and is characterized by symptoms such as dizziness, fainting, blurred vision, and poor concentration.
And, if you are already taking medication for hypertension then overconsumption of alfalfa sprouts may worsen the situation due to its interference with the blood pressure medication.
Suggested Read- 6 Major Side Effects of Eating Too Many Mung Bean Sprouts
(6) Increased Risk of Hyperkalemia
As mentioned earlier, alfalfa sprouts are rich in potassium which is an essential mineral that helps with the blood pressure regulation as it relaxes our blood vessels and thus provides relief from hypertension. However, too much potassium in our system can bring another issue as it drops our blood pressure to a very low level, thereby increasing the risk of hypotension.
In addition to this, too much potassium ( due to excessive intake of alfalfa sprouts and other potassium-rich foods) can also increase the risk of hyperkalemia.
Hyperkalemia is a condition that gets caused when there is too much potassium in our bloodstream. Some common symptoms of hyperkalemia are tiredness or weakness, a feeling of numbness or tiredness, nausea or vomiting, difficulty in breathing, chest pain, irregular heartbeat, etc.
This is another reason to keep an eye on the alfalfa sprouts you eat.
(7) Possible Contamination
Although alfalfa sprouts are very beneficial for us and provide a number of benefits, they are also on a high risk of being contaminated with bacteria, etc. As per the Memorial Sloan-Kettering cancer institute, alfalfa sprouts have been linked to various E.coli and Salmonella outbreaks in Europe and California.
These bacteria can be life threatening and may cause food poisoning symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and sometimes fever too.
(8) Not Suitable For Pregnant And Nursing Mothers
Alfalfa sprouts are not suitable for the pregnant and nursing mothers, because of the high risk of bacterial contamination associated with it. Indulgence of alfalfa sprouts during these crucial stages can have a very negative effect on the growth and development of the baby, and also on the health of the mother.
The information contained in the post is for general purpose only and shouldn’t be considered as medical advice or as an alternative to medical advice. Although I’ve tried my best to keep the information contained in this post as accurate and updated as possible, I make no guarantee of the accurateness of the same.
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