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Benefits of Red Clover

By Mala Srivastava

A perennial herb, red clover has been used medicinally to treat conditions such as skin inflammation, whooping cough and respiratory problems, states the University of Maryland Medical Center. It contains a host of important nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus, calcium, vitamin C, niacin and magnesium. In addition, red clover is a good source of isoflavones that provide multiple benefits.

May Help Relieve Menopausal Symptoms

Researchers believe that isoflavones found in red clover may help ease symptoms of menopause -- night sweats and hot flashes -- because of their estrogenlike properties, notes the University of Maryland Medical Center. According to a clinical study published in the July 2002 issue of the journal “Maturitas,” menopausal women who ate red clover had a 44 percent reduction in hot flashes compared to the placebo group. More research needs to be done to validate these findings, however.

May Lower the Risk for Osteoporosis

Red clover may help reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis. A study published in the "American Journal of Clinical Nutrition" in February 2004 found that post-menopausal subjects who ingested isoflavones from red clover experienced less bone loss in their spinal bones and increased bone formation markers compared to those who took a placebo. But since the evidence is preliminary, more research is required.

May Improve Your Cardiovascular Health

Adding red clover to your diet may boost your heart health. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that isoflavones in the herb have been shown to boost high-density lipoprotein, often called good cholesterol, in pre- and postmenopausal women. But not all studies agree. According to a study published in the March 1999 issue of the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism," menopausal women who took red clover supplements had stronger and flexible arteries known as arterial compliance, which can help protect against heart disease. In addition, red clover may exhibit blood-thinning properties, which prevent the formation of blood clots. It appears to improve the flow of blood through veins and arteries.

May Help Fight Cancer

Preliminary evidence suggests that isoflavones may keep cancer cells from growing or kill them in test tubes, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Researchers postulate that isoflavones may help ward off some forms of cancer, such as endometrial and prostate cancers, because of their estrogen-like effects. However, it might also encourage the growth of some cancers. Until more research is done, doctors cannot recommend this herb to fight cancer. If you have a family history of breast cancer, avoid taking red clover.

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