(BeWellBuzz) Touted as a panacea for all ills by its proponents, wheatgrass sits at the top of the list of ‘superfoods’. This easily-available, nutrient-filled natural food is believed to boost immunity, aid digestion, and improve the toxin-removal process in the body.
Read on to know what wheatgrass is, how you should use it and how much, its nutrition value, its numerous benefits, and the findings of the scientific studies done on it.
What is wheatgrass?
Wheatgrass, as the name suggests, is the young grass of the common wheat plant. It is grown in the temperate zones of the United States and Europe. The plant can be grown outdoors or indoors.
How should you consume wheatgrass and in what quantities
Wheatgrass is generally not eaten in its natural form, because it is not easy to digest. It is usually consumed in the form of juice. To extract wheatgrass juice, use a manually operated juicer and not the standard automatic juicer, as experts believe wheatgrass juice is beneficial only when extracted manually. Wheatgrass is also available in many other forms including powders, capsules, and tablets.
To get all the health benefits, experts recommend that you drink 1 to 4 ounces of fresh wheatgrass juice daily.
Nutritional value of wheatgrass juice
Nearly all minerals and vitamins that we require for good health are present in high quantities in wheatgrass juice. Wheatgrass contains 70% chlorophyll, the green pigment that gives the wheat grass its dark green color. It is also rich in essential minerals such as phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, cobalt, sulphur, and Vitamin B complex, C, K, and E. Wheatgrass also has 19 types of amino acids.
The following table lists the nutrition content of 1 ounce of wheatgrass juice
|Vitamin E||880 mcg|
|Vitamin B12||0.30 mcg|
|Vitamin C||1 mg|
Health benefits of wheatgrass
- It builds red blood cells
Chlorophyll, present in wheatgrass, is similar in structure to the hemoglobin molecule found in human blood. The only difference between the two is that of the central element. The core element in the chlorophyll molecule is magnesium, whereas it is iron in the hemoglobin molecule. This inherent similarity between the two allows the human body to convert the chlorophyll molecule in hemoglobin, increasing the production of red blood cells and improving the blood’s capacity to provide nutrients and oxygen to different body parts.
Increased production of red blood cells and the blood’s improved capability to deliver oxygen, in turn, normalizes blood pressure, improves metabolic rate, and stimulates the production of enzymes.
- It detoxifies the body
Wheatgrass has excellent cleansing capabilities. It is rich in carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin B, and Vitamin E. These essential substances help kill free radicals and remove toxins from the body.
- It is a potent energizer
Wheatgrass juice is a powerful energizer. One ounce of juice can rejuvenate your energy levels better than most sugar-laced energy drinks.
- Reduces the side effects of chemotherapy
It is believed that beta-carotene and chlorophyll, present in high amounts in wheatgrass, have excellent anti-cancer capabilities and are effective in preventing cancer. These two substances have been found to curb the side effects of chemotherapy, a standard cancer treatment.
- It treats ulcerative colitis
Wheatgrass has been found to reduce the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease that affects the colon lining.
- It boosts immunity and aids in recovery from illnesses
Wheatgrass is rich in essential nutrients required for good health. It is believed to boost immunity and also encourage recovery from various illnesses.
In addition to the above, other purported benefits of this ‘superfood’ are:
- It aids weight loss
- It reduces bad breath
- It is effective in the treatment of certain skin diseases
- It regenerates body cells and is a powerful supplement for body builders
- It relieves toothaches
- It prevents premature hair graying
Health benefits of wheatgrass have not been extensively studied. That said, the few studies that have been done so far have shown encouraging results. Let’s take a look at them-
A 2002 study found that wheatgrass juice reduced the symptoms of ulcerative colitis
In the study, 21 ulcerative colitis patients were given wheatgrass juice. Patients recorded a significant reduction in their symptoms.
A pilot study declared that wheatgrass juice decreased the frequency of blood transfusions required by young patients with thalassemia
In the study, children suffering from thalassemia were asked to consume 100 ml of juice every day. Approximately half the subjects recorded decreased need for blood transfusions.
A small study found that wheatgrass juice reduced the need for blood transfusions in transfusion-dependent myelodysplastic syndrome patients
Wheatgrass juice increased the time between successive blood transfusions for blood transfusion-dependent patients with myelodysplastic syndrome.
A pilot study concluded wheatgrass juice reduced the need for bone marrow-building and blood-building drugs in breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy
Patients who consumed wheatgrass juice demonstrated a reduced need for bone marrow-building and blood-building drugs during chemotherapy. Wheatgrass juice did not affect the efficacy of cancer treatment.
Individuals who have gluten intolerance or wheat allergy should consult their healthcare provider before using wheatgrass or wheatgrass juice. Wheatgrass can cause headaches, vomiting, and/or nausea. Consult your doctor if you experience any unwanted side effects due to wheatgrass. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should speak to their doctor before adding wheatgrass to their diet.