Wheatgrass is the archetypical superfood. It was a fad long before goji berries and acai berries and is still a main ingredient in superfood powders, pills, and smoothies. A lot has been said about the so-called health benefits of wheatgrass, but how much of this is true? And is it really beneficial to your health?
It’s High in Vitamins and Minerals
Wheatgrass is one of the most nutrient-dense foods in the world, containing huge concentrations of vitamins and minerals. It has copious amounts of vitamin E, around 4 times as much as broccoli in fact, and it also contains high concentrations of vitamin C, as well as B vitamins, vitamin K, iron, zinc, copper, and manganese.
Wheatgrass is a rich source of fibre. A single ounce (28 grams) will provide you with roughly 8 grams of fibre, or around a third of your daily recommended intake. It contains a similar amount of protein, in addition to a host of essential amino acids.
A little wheatgrass can go a long way, and these nutrients are only scratching the surface with regards to the health benefits of this popular superfood.
It’s Filled with Antioxidants
Antioxidants can be found in abundance in most superfoods, from marjoram to raw cacao, and there are high concentrations of these cancer-fighting compounds in wheatgrass. In simple terms, these compounds help reduce oxidation in the body, a process that has been linked to a host of diseases.
Natural panaceas are abundant in plant-based foods, from fruit and vegetables to herbs and tea, and countless studies have shown that a diet rich in these compounds can significantly reduce a person’s chance to getting chronic diseases like coronary heart disease and cancer.
The antioxidants in wheatgrass include vitamin C, which is one of the most abundant antioxidants in fruits and vegetables, and glutathione, which has been at the centre of a wealth of positive research. In fact, research has shown that diets rich in vitamin C have higher glutathione levels, making wheatgrass a double-whammy where this crucial compound is concerned.(1)
Can Reduce Cholesterol
Studies done on rodents found that consumption of wheatgrass juice could reduce levels of LDL, or “bad”, cholesterol while increasing good cholesterol. Similar studies were conducted on rabbits, with noticeable improvements over the control group. (2)
There have also been countess studies showing that a diet rich in plant-based foods such as wheatgrass can contribute to improved blood and heart health, and there are many factors at play here. In addition to the antioxidant content mentioned above, the high concentration of vitamin and minerals may also play a role, as will the fibre and chlorophyll.
Speaking of which…
It’s a Great Source of Chlorophyll
Chlorophyll is a plant compound responsible for the green colour of wheatgrass. It’s also found in spirulina and many other plants, but wheatgrass is one of the best sources.
This compound has anti-inflammatory properties and has been at the heart of numerous positive research over the last few decades, with links to reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and pretty much everything else. It has also been connected with weight-loss benefits, although in this case, there isn’t a great deal of conclusive evidence to suggest that it actually aids weight loss. (3)
It Could Reduce Blood Sugar
High blood sugar is associated with an array of diseases and a shortened life expectancy, but foods like wheatgrass could help alleviate this issue. Several animal studies have found that consumption of wheatgrass can help reduce blood sugar quite significantly, with these effects being considerably more notable in cases of elevated blood sugar.
Of course, it’s not an instant cure or fix, but for non-insulin dependent cases, it could help when consumed as part of a healthy diet.
There are few side effects of wheatgrass, and the average user will not experience any whatsoever. However, this is only true if safe doses are consumed. As with anything, wheatgrass can cause adverse reactions when large doses are consumed on a regular basis, including mega-dosing on potentially dangerous vitamins.
A single shot a day will provide you with more than enough nutrients and will ensure you get all of the other benefits discussed on this page without overdoing it. If you take too much, then you may start experiencing side effects such as nausea, headaches, and constipation or diarrhoea. If you’re new to wheatgrass and its rather unique taste, then you may feel a little queasy when first consuming it, but this doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve consumed too much or are having a bad reaction.
It’s also possible to be allergic to wheatgrass, so avoid consuming it if you are allergic to any plants in the same family. It should also be avoided while pregnant and breastfeeding. It may not cause any problems and should be relatively safe, but there isn’t a great deal of research to prove it’s safe for pregnant women (which is so often the case with plants and herbal remedies) and it’s better to err on the side of caution.
How to Consume Wheatgrass
Wheatgrass is not something you should be consuming as a tea. The most common way to consume it is in the form of a juice, with the wheatgrass being blitzed quickly and then consumed as a “shot”. It can also be added to smoothies and juices following a quick processing method. These are the easiest ways to consume it.
You can also buy wheatgrass powder and use this in the same way, adding it to juices and smoothies, or even sprinkling it on food. However, fresh is always best and will typically provide more benefits.
It doesn’t have a great taste and is very earthy and grassy, but you only need a small amount to reap the benefits. You can consume it any time of day, but taking into account its high nutrient profile, in addition to the benefits provided by chlorophyll, you may get the most benefits by consuming it in the morning prior to or during breakfast.