March 21, 2016 · Written by Foodtolive Team
Health Benefits of Wheatgrass: Truth or Myth
Dozens of articles about healthy eating claim that health benefits of wheatgrass are so numerous everyone should be eating it. However, can you really believe these claims?
Considering the popularity of this particular food, it seems that the articles are indeed true, for if it were useless, there wouldn’t be so many people testifying to its efficiency. Those who argue wheatgrass’ healing powers cite lack of scientific evidence as the main proof of their claims.
It’s true that there isn’t much research into this particular matter, but the same can be said about any kind of plant used in alternative medicine. Yet, many of them have proven efficient for treatment and prevention of various diseases and even professional doctors often prescribe supplements today.
In addition, there are currently a few studies underway that investigate wheatgrass health benefits in relation to specific diseases. Early research indicates that consuming freshly squeezed juice from this plant has a pronounced effect on one’s health, especially if treatment is prolonged and consistent. Therefore, even though the scientific evidence in regards to the healing properties of wheatgrass is insufficient at the moment, this situation can change in the nearest future. Considering the number of people who include this food in their diet and their positive testimonials about its efficiency, it’s safe to say that wheatgrass can be exceptionally good for you, so you should definitely give it a try.
What Does Wheatgrass Do? 5 Essential Health Benefits of Wheatgrass
Now that we’ve determined that this plant does have some healing powers, we’ll need to answer the most important question. What is wheatgrass good for?
The most important wheatgrass health benefits are:
- Increase in red blood cell count.
This particular benefit has been proven by research as wheatgrass was investigated as a possible treatment for beta-thalassemia. This is a genetic blood disorder that can result in anemia of varied severity. People suffering from a severe form of this condition require regular blood transfusions as their bodies cannot effectively produce hemoglobin. The efficiency of fresh wheatgrass juice in stimulating this particular function is so great, that the need for transfusions in people affected by beta-thalassemia reduces significantly after 18 months of taking the juice daily. The effect on those suffering less serious types of anemia is more pronounced.
- Reduction in symptoms of ulcerative colitis (inflammatory bowel disease).
Another study proves that regular intake of freshly extracted wheatgrass juice significantly reduces the activity of ulcerative colitis. The patients who tried this treatment showed a marked improvement in their overall condition. The severity and frequency of rectal bleeding is greatly reduced.
- One of the most important health benefits of wheatgrass comes from the fact that every shot of the grass is packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants. They act in such a manner that promotes effective binding and removal of toxins from your liver and kidneys. Wheatgrass juice is often taken along with or after medications as it helps remove drug deposits as well as other dangerous toxins from the body. The flushing effect of the plant is so great that it’s currently researched in regards to cancer prevention, much like broccoli seeds.
- Reduction in the damaging effects of radiation.
Environmental pollution and various technological factors increase the risk of an average person being affected by some form of radiation. You also shouldn’t forget that all of us are exposed to UV radiation on a daily basis, and it has been proven beyond any doubt that UV rays can be the cause of skin cancer. Wheatgrass contains a very important enzyme SOD, which possesses outstanding anti-inflammatory properties. This enzyme helps reduce the negative effects of radiation and it’s safe to assume that it can reduce the risk of diseases caused by it as well as other inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis.
- Thyroid gland stimulation.
The scientists are just beginning to study the effects of this plant of the activity of thyroid gland. However, it has been used by alternative medicine practitioners for treating a variety of thyroid disorders. The reasons for its efficiency in this particular case include a high content of essential nutrients that strengthen the gland and stimulate its function, as well as anti-inflammatory properties of the plant.
Note that it’s not only wheatgrass that’s good for your health. Wheat berries health benefits are just as numerous, so you definitely won’t regret stocking up on some wheat seeds.
Side Effects of Wheatgrass
While scientists still argue about the health benefits of wheatgrass, they agree on the fact that it doesn’t have any known side effects. The risk of developing an allergy to the plant is minimal. As long as it’s taken in reasonable food amounts, you are in no danger.
Studies also indicate that creams made from this plant are also safe and rarely cause irritation. Even if it does occur, the chance is that it’s caused by other components in the cream.
In some very rare cases, drinking wheatgrass juice can result in nausea and loss of appetite. However, this is likely caused by the fact that it should be taken on an empty stomach early in the morning. Consider drinking juice at a different time.
Does Wheatgrass Have Gluten?
This is a valid concern as the number of people suffering from gluten intolerance is increasing rapidly. Wheatgrass has been researched extensively and the US Department of Agriculture as well as the American Association of Cereal Chemists agree that only the seed kernel and endosperm contain gluten. The leaves and stems of the plant are completely gluten-free. Therefore, they are safe for those allergic to this substance.
Where Can I Buy Wheatgrass?
As wheatgrass is a popular superfood, you can buy it in many stores that specialize in healthy eating. However, it’s important to understand that this particular food comes in many forms. Nowadays, you can buy wheatgrass juice powder, juice, seeds for sprouting, and frozen or fresh shots of the grass.
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If you want to receive maximum health benefits of wheatgrass, you should buy seeds and sprout them yourself. All the studies of this plant investigated the effect of freshly-made juice. Its efficiency reduces significantly with every passing minute, so to get the most out of it, you should drink it no later than 15 minutes after extraction.
There are both regular and organic wheatgrass available in the stores today. Like with any other food, the organic variety is of a higher quality as it doesn’t contain any pesticides and other unsavory elements often used in farming. If you aim for the healthiest diet, you should choose this option.
How to Grow Wheatgrass at Home
Growing wheatgrass indoors is very easy. If you have specialized sprouting equipment, you can use it, but there is no need to invest in it if you don’t. A regular tray and a couple of bowls is all you need to create a small grassy patch on your windowsill. This is how you should go about it:
- Rinse the seeds in cool water.
Then, use a strainer to drain them and put the seeds in a bowl.
- Soak the seeds.
Add 3 times water to the amount of seeds and cover the bowl with plastic film. Leave to soak for 10 hours. Change the water and repeat two more times. After the third soak, the seeds should sprout small roots.
- Prepare the seeds tray.
Line it with paper towels and cover them with about 2“ of organic compost or regular potting soil.
- Plant the seeds.
Spread them in an even layer and press them into the soil (lightly so as not to damage the roots).
- Water the tray and cover it with moistened newspaper sheets.
- Ensure the seeds remain moderately moist at all times.
Spray both seeds and the newspaper cover every day.
- Place the tray in partial sunlight.
- Harvest the grass blades once they split.
To get most health benefits of wheatgrass shots, you should harvest them in 9-10 days.
- Grow wheatgrass again from the same seeds after you harvest the first crop by simply watering them.
How to Make Wheatgrass Juice
There are several ways to juice wheatgrass. The most efficient is to use an electric or manual wheatgrass juicer. In this case, the machine will do all the work, so you’ll only need to add some water and a few drops of lemon juice to make your green medicine taste better.
If you don’t have a juicer, you can use a mortar and pestle, though this will require more time and effort. Fill about ¼ of the mortar with grass blades and grind them thoroughly. Then, add an equal part of water and continue mashing the content of the mortar into a paste. Once you are done, put the paste into a muslin cloth and twist squeezing the juice.
So, Is Wheatgrass Good for You?
As you can see, research and numerous testimonials from people consuming this plant regularly clearly indicate that it is indeed good for you. There may not be much scientific evidence present at the moment, but it’s impossible to argue that health benefits of wheatgrass are real.
Considering the fact that there are no known side effects to it, there really is no reason for you not to try including wheatgrass in your diet and seeing what it can do for you. This is especially true if you suffer from anemia or digestive disorders.