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Isoflavonoids and Alfalfa Sprouts

Jason Park, Lisa Carrigg, Tiffany Craig, Emily Makrez

Put a sprout on it

Bored of your Glucosinolates?

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Potential Health Benefits

Anti-inflammatory (1)
Inhibition of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6, IL-I B)
Inhibition of NFKB activity
In vitro: 50 ug/ml alfalfa ethyl acetate extract (ASEA)
In vivo (in rats): 25 mg/kg of ASEA in rats for 1 week; then
induced acute inflammation via injection with

Mechanism is unclear, but compounds like

coumesterol found in alfalfa sprouts have been

Potential Health Risks

Chronic intake of alfalfa seeds associated with Lupus
Has been deemed as possibly safe for adults
Can also interfere with normal metabolism of Vitamin E
Interrupts absorption and metabolism (2)

Risk of foodborne illness

Not recommended for immunocompromised (3)
Some sites suggest heating sprouts to kill potential

Are your terpenes not risky enough?

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Reducing Foodborne Illness

2009 FDA temporarily advised against eating raw
sprouts due to Salmonella cases
Recommendations for growers of seeds:
Seeds grown under good agricultural practices to reduce
potential for pathogenic bacteria
Seeds should be conditioned, stored, and transported
to reduce likelihood for contamination
Closed containers in clean, dry area

Seeds should be treated with 20,000 ppm Ca

hypochlorite or other antimicrobial chemical

Reducing Foodborne Illness

Recommendations for sprout producers:
Treat seeds and test for pathogens
Treatment includes antimicrobial pesticide chemicals or food additives

Grow in sanitary conditions

Test for pathogens
Testing spent water from production lots.
Can be done as early as 48 hour (of the 3-10 day growing period)

Implement practices for traceback

Do you need some Isoflavones in your


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Isoflavonoid Content
Measurements in mg/100 g, edible portion



Biochanin A

Alfalfa Sprouts




Broccoli Sprouts



Total Isoflavones

Alfalfa Sprouts




Broccoli Sprouts




Availability in the Market Place

Stores in refrigerated section (until recently)
Ordered as a seed to be sprouted at home
In processed form at health food or
supplement stores
Capsule or tablet

Not sure if that dish you made for

fathers day is healthy enough?

Put a sprout on it

(I know there are many varieties of seeds for alfalfa to grow, but nothing comes
up in a search for best varieties to sprout theres really no mention of it at all).

Growing conditions
Flavonol content increased 1.5-2x more when sprouts were germinated in the
dark and grown at 20 degrees C compared to alfalfa seeds.
UV light decreased flavonol content while IR light increased flavonol content.
Based on the very short growing period (3-5 days) the effects are minimal
compared to vegetables

Storage and processing

4 degrees C and lower (refrigerator temperature) based on a study of broccoli
sprouts (4)
Found one article about irradiating sprouts, but it didnt talk specifically about
isoflavones (5)

Cooking method
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Ways to Enjoy Sprouts
Add to your favorite sandwich or wrap
Toss on top of your salad
Add into spring rolls or sushi
Have with hummus and crackers
Top your stir fry when serving

If youre ever in doubt

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Hong YH, Chao WW, Chen ML, Lin BF. Ethyl acetate extracts of
alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) sprouts inhibit lipopolysaccharideinduced inflammation in vitro and in vivo. J Biomed Sci. 2009;
Alfalfa. MedlinePlus. Accessed June 8, 2012.
Ferguson DD, Scheftel J, Cronquit A, et al. Temporally distinct
Escherichia coli O157 outbreaks associated with alfalfa sprouts
linked to a common seed source Colorado and Minnesota,
2003. Epidemiol Infect. 2005;133(3):439447.
Herr I, Bchler MW. Dietary constituents of broccoli and other
cruciferous vegetables: implications for prevention and therapy
of cancer. Cancer Treat Rev. 2010;36(5):37783.