Alfalfa (Medicago sativa) has been extensively used as animal feed, due to its fiber, protein, minerals, and vitamins, being also a useful source of phenolic compounds with potential therapeutic benefits. Nevertheless, its potential use as human ingredient is scarce. The aim of this work was to assess the nutritional composition, amino acid profile, and antioxidant capacity (AOC) of freeze-dried juice (FDJ) and fibrous residual material (RM), two new alfalfa-derived products (Adps) recently launched as ingredients for beverage preparations. Results demonstrated a high content of proteins (23-30 g/100 g FDJ and 13-17 g/100 g RM), crude fiber (29 g/100 g RM), and minerals (such as sodium, calcium, iron, and zinc). No significant difference was found in caloric content (4 kcal/g). Essential and nonessential amino acids were quantified in both Adps being leucine and lysine the most abundant. Total phenolic and total flavonoid contents (TPC and TFC, respectively) and their changes along the different harvesting periods of the year were also examined. FDJ presented the highest TPC in May (19 mg gallic acid equivalents/g dry weight [dw]), while in October TFC had the maximum value (4 mg catechin equivalents/g dw). Both products exhibited an interesting AOC by 1,1-diphenyl-2-picrylhydrazyl (DPPH) and ferric reducing antioxidant power assays. This study reports the nutraceutical potential of two new types of Adps.
Keywords: Medicago sativa; amino acids; antioxidant capacity; beverages; nutritional composition.