Alfalfa Saponins: Structure, Biological Activity, and Chemotaxonomy

  • Wieslaw Oleszek
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 405)


Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L) is a valuable source of good quality protein in temperate climates. The aerial parts of the plant may be used as a forage crop in the form of green feed, hay, or condensed pellets. In some countries, such as France1, considerable amounts of alfalfa are processed to produce leaf protein concentrates (LPC). Human consumption of lucerne is generally very low, but there has been increasing interest in using lucerne as sprouts for green salad, or in the form of tablets or juice, for its effect on serum cholesterol. The hypocholesterolemic activity of lucerne is believed to be related to the presence of chemical principles -- saponins -- occurring in this species2–5. On the other hand, the same group of compounds is seen as being detrimental from a nutritional point of view. It has been shown that saponins are especially harmful for monogastric animals4, affecting their growth by changing the palatability and hence the consumption of feed, or by influencing the digestion and absorption processes. Saponins may also alter fermentation, and affect the site and the extent of nutrient digestion in ruminants6,7.


High Performance Liquid Chromatography Medicagenic Acid Hemolytic Activity Triterpene Glycoside Saponin Content 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wieslaw Oleszek
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiochemistryInstitute of Soil Science and Plant CultivationPulawyPoland

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