The first time you taste a wheatgrass shot, there is a good chance you will not know what to do with yourself. It sounds disgusting. But the taste, while not altogether pleasant, is way better than it has any right to be.
If you are like us, you were confused about what to feel. There was no urge on anyone’s part for refills, but at the same time, we knew it would not be the last time, especially if the health benefits of it were true.
In the following article, we will be looking at what wheatgrass brings to the table from a nutritional standpoint. We will also discuss the greater implications of what that nutritional value means in terms of what wheatgrass is capable of doing for your body. Lastly, we will close out with some talk about preparation tips/methods as well as any precautions and side effects to consider.
That said, let’s get started!
What Does the Body Do with Wheatgrass?
The first leaves of the wheat plant are what nutritionists are talking about when they discuss wheatgrass. Harvesters will take this material and use it to form juices, powders, and other types of product that we’ll get into at the close of this piece.
For now, the overview is this: you can eat or drink wheatgrass or use it as a topical agent. It has benefits either way. However, it’s important to remember that most of the scientifically proven wheatgrass benefits are linked to animal studies at this point.
Granted, the product has been tested on biologically similar animals, so it’s not unreasonable to think that some of the effects would transfer. But the medical community still has a lot of work to do when it comes to confirming the same effects in human beings.
Wheatgrass does contain a lot of beneficial nutrients, though. As a food, it’s harmless. It has the right building blocks to enhance your life and health in dozens of ways. But don’t treat it as a substitute for required therapies and treatments. Using wheatgrass is about feeding your body the right nutrition. It’s not a miracle drug.
In the next section, we’ll discuss just how nutrient-packed this produce is. Read on!
Much of what you hear about wheatgrass and its nutrient-dense profile is true, but there is one area where it’s lacking. For the sake of being all-cards-on-the-table, let’s just say you can find far better protein sources.
If you take a single shot of wheatgrass, then you’re only feeding your body one gram of protein. Considering women need at least 45 grams per day for proper nutrition, we don’t see downing 45 of these bad boys as an option. That said, you can find better protein-added values through an enhanced powder.
But wheatgrass was not meant to be consumed as a main source of protein. In fact, most flock to it for the antioxidant properties and its vitamins and minerals. It’s also a great source of dietary fiber.
Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect in one tablespoon of wheatgrass powder:
- Calories: 75 (zero from fat); the benefit here is the minimal impact to individuals counting calories and watching what they eat.
- Protein: 5 grams; the benefit is that it’s a decent supplemental source of protein, which feeds your muscles. However, it’s not ideal as the main source.
- Fiber: 5 grams; the benefit is that it’s a pretty great fiber source and that it’ll keep you filled up without destroying your daily calorie budget.
- Total Fat: 0 grams; the more filling foods you can eat without adding to your daily fat intake, the less likely you’ll be to retain fat.
- Net carbs: 5 grams; half of everything you eat goes to fiber, making this a great food for low-carb diets.
- Vitamin A: 150 percent of the recommended daily intake (RDI); helps with vision, bone strength, reproduction needs, immune system support, and skin health.
- Vitamin C: 90 percent of RDI; helps form collagen, absorb iron, great for the immune system, bones, teeth, and wound healing.
- Iron: 220 percent, RDI; hemoglobin formation, muscle and brain functionality, restless leg support, body temperature control, oxygenation, treatment/cure for some chronic diseases.
Wheatgrass also contains Vitamin E (great for formation of red blood cells); amino acids (necessary for muscle growth and repair); selenium (an important antioxidant in the fight against some cancers and inflammation); flavonoids/phenolic acids (also an anti-inflammatory); magnesium (energy booster, mood regulator, heart health enhancer, among other benefits); calcium (aiding with heart, muscle, bone health); and chlorophyll (detoxification, anti-inflammatory).
You’ll learn a bit more about how these benefit your body, mind, and life in the benefits section.
Before going any further, however, we should clarify some of the detoxification claims that you have probably heard about wheatgrass.
Effects on Liver
Much is made over the detoxification benefits of wheatgrass, and while it’s true that chlorophyll and some of the other aforementioned agents have detox properties, there is no better detoxifier than the human liver. Its entire job is to rid your body of toxins.
In that sense, a properly functioning liver does not really need any extra help. However, wheatgrass could be a great supplemental agent for individuals suffering from certain liver-related conditions like cirrhosis, hepatitis, cancer, hemochromatosis, and Wilson’s disease, to name a few.
The Mayo Clinic calls attention to the following potential warning signs that you could be suffering from some form of liver disease:
- Abdominal pains and swelling
- Leg and ankle swelling
- Itchy skin
- Dark urine color
- Stool that is either pale in color, tarry, or bloody
- Chronic fatigue
- Nausea or vomiting
- Appetite loss
- Easy bruising
You should consult a doctor at your earliest convenience if you experience any of these symptoms with regularity. But while you’re at it, start taking wheatgrass and consuming more water to see if the condition improves. And if you’re worried about alcohol, the clinic observes that healthy adults looking to practice moderation should have only “one drink a day for women and up to two drinks a day for men.”
“Heavy or high-risk drinking is defined as more than eight drinks a week for women and more than 15 drinks a week for men,” the site notes.
In the next section, we’ll be talking more at length about some of the probable or proven benefits of wheatgrass. Let’s have another shot, shall we?
21 Wheatgrass Benefits
There is still much to learn about what wheatgrass can do for the human body. What we do know about it is this: many of the nutrients listed above that can be found in abundant supply in one shot or scoop of wheatgrass, are already universally recommended by nutritionists.
While some of the benefits may be a bit overstated, the nutritional foundation of wheatgrass makes it a supremely healthy food at worst. That’s why it gets a surefire thumbs-up from us. These could be your outcomes if you start incorporating it into your daily diet.
1. Lower Cholesterol
Wheatgrass is a strong fiber source. To illustrate just how strong it is, take men. Guys require the highest daily fiber content (between 25-30 grams). An average guy on a 2,000-calorie per day diet could get everything he needs from five scoops of wheatgrass powder — 375 calories total!
That said, we recommend getting fiber requirements from a variety of healthy sources throughout the day. This is just an example.
What does fiber have to do with lowering cholesterol? WebMD observes that fiber is helpful in lowering cholesterol because “Soluble fiber (binds) with cholesterol particles in your digestive system and (moves) them out of the body before they’re absorbed.”
2. A Strong Immune System
You can’t go through life without getting sick. Would be great if you could, but that in no way resembles reality.
To survive and thrive, you have to a) avoid getting sick as much as possible and b) have a strong immune system that can fight back whenever you do.
Wheatgrass supports your immune system through its antioxidant content. And for the record, it contains a lot more than the typical vegetable dietitians agree that you should be eating every day.
3. Cancer Support
There’s still much we don’t know about what causes cancer, how to improve life expectancies, or how to cure it. Don’t count on wheatgrass to solve all your cancer problems.
However, it has shown effectiveness in being able to kill cancer cells and promote healthy cell production. Perhaps most useful, it is a favorite among cancer patients going through treatments like chemotherapy because it helps to boost energy and immune support.
4. Blood Sugar Regulation
One study has already shown a connection between wheatgrass and improved blood sugar levels. TheSuperfoods details the methodology here, but the gist is this: just one meal significantly lowered glucose levels in diabetic patients.
Diabetes can be a life-threatening condition in some cases, so any tool in the arsenal to help keep too much sugar from entering the bloodstream is worth keeping in your cabinet.
5. Encouraging Better Food Habits
Just introducing wheatgrass into your diet can make an enormous difference in other food and drink choices. Take this Prevention piece from Jen Hubley Luckwaldt.
In it, Luckwaldt writes that wheatgrass caused her to think more about healthy eating. “I started taking wheatgrass shots right around the time that Easter candy started invading grocery store shelves — historically, a very dangerous time for my diet,” Luckwaldt writes.
She continues: “I’m not going to lie and tell you that I didn’t put a dent in a few bags of pastel M&Ms, but the daily ritual of drinking something green reminded me that woman cannot live on candy alone. … I found myself consciously trying to add more leafy greens into my diet, and thinking about things like fiber and portion size.”
One wheatgrass shot is a relatively low barrier to entry to better dietary habits. And once you feel the effects of good dieting, exercise is easier to incorporate.
6. Weight Loss
Piggybacking off No. 5, it only stands to reason that if you start making better choices, you’ll start seeing better results. Weight loss is one of the greatest outcomes you can have if your goal is to lower your risk factors for things like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.
Because wheatgrass is so calorie-and-fiber-efficient, it’s easier to eat within your limits when you make it a part of your day.
7. Beauty Benefits
When it comes to beauty, there are three areas we primarily focus on: hair, nails, and skin. How does wheatgrass stack up here?
The high chlorophyll content and other antioxidant properties translate well to the beauty realm. Furthermore, wheatgrass can be used as a topical agent in addition to being an efficient food.
Lowering the number of toxins in your body, in addition to the other health benefits of consuming wheatgrass, will have powerful direct as well as ancillary benefits on your beauty efforts.
For this, we stand by the detox benefits of chlorophyll, but also refer you back to the section on liver effects. A healthily functioning liver is your best way to get rid of toxins, but wheatgrass certainly won’t hurt. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking wheatgrass consumption frees you up to be a little looser with food choices and exercise.
9. Improved Circulation
Your red blood cells are tasked with the duty of carrying oxygen throughout the body. Improperly functioning red blood cells can’t carry out this mission as well, and it can result in a variety of circulatory problems, such as always constantly cold extremities, limbs falling asleep with annoying regularity, and even sexual dysfunction.
Red blood cells require iron to function well, and you’ll get all you need and then some with one 75-calorie scoop of wheatgrass powder. Of course, some conditions may require more than the RDI. In those cases, see your doctor about determining a healthy supply of iron. Wheatgrass can get you where you need to be either way.
10. Eased Arthritis
Many older people suffer debilitating effects from arthritis. This condition consists of swelling and pain around joint areas. Individuals suffering from it can find it hard to get around or enjoy basic uses of their hands and feet. Getting up off the floor after playing with the grandkids? Forget about it.
The antioxidants found liberally in wheatgrass are, by nature, anti-inflammatory — not only for the overall immune system but the joints as well. It may not be the cure for arthritis, but millions across the globe living with this condition swear by it.
11. Reduced Fatigue
Another oft-stated benefit of wheatgrass is as an energy booster, which, of course, helps stave off the effects of fatigue. While we could all use a little pick-me-up to get us through the workday, reducing fatigue can also offer more serious benefits.
According to the Transport Accident Commission of Australia, 20 percent of their auto fatalities are caused by fatigue.
12. Body Odor Improvements
The body has a natural predisposition to adopting the scents of the foods that go into it. That’s why dentists will warn their patients against eating large quantities of onions or garlic.
It works the same way with pleasant-smelling foods, though. Fortunately, wheatgrass is an herb with a nice, natural scent. Eat more of it along with herbs like cilantro and mint, and it won’t be such a catastrophe if you forget to put deodorant on before tackling your day.
13. Wound Treatments
Wheatgrass is often associated with wound healing. There are three reasons it makes for a pretty effective agent. Firstly, it has anti-bacterial properties, so it’s able to keep wounds clean. Secondly, as we’ve already mentioned, it’s an anti-inflammatory. Thirdly, it aids the body in creating new epithelial cells to go over the wound placement.
14. Tooth Decay Prevention
Wheatgrass is often recommended as a food that can prevent tooth decay because of its anti-bacterial properties. And as advanced as the mouth can be in terms of dangers and risks, most dental surgery comes as a result of bacteria run amok. Eating more detox foods like wheatgrass in conjunction with proper preventative care can make cavities and most teeth-related conditions a non-issue.
15. Sunburn, Skin Condition Treatments
Wheatgrass is widely embraced by celebrities and fitness experts alike for cosmetic reasons as much as health. That’s because of the one-two combination of antioxidants and vitamins. So a condition like sunburn which does both swelling and skin damage, you have the proper nutrients involved to address.
16. Clearing Sinus Congestion
Sinus congestion happens due to a buildup of toxins and inflammation. Wheatgrass can clear the sinus passages and serve as an excellent supplement for those tough months when pollen or ragweed counts are higher than usual.
17. Hangover Treatment
Ever wonder why the cops test for blood-alcohol levels when they pull someone over for drunk driving? It’s because alchohol is detected in the bloodstream. The bloodstream in turn circulates throughout the body. If it’s deficient, then so is the person.
When said person wakes up with a hangover, their body is still working overtime to remove toxins. That’s where wheatgrass comes in handy. Its chlorophyll content makes it a wonderful detoxifying agent, and that’s true whether your impairment is overeating or drinking to the point of inebriation.
18. Mood Stabilization, Improvement
Low iron counts can cause a person to feel rundown. When that happens, it’s easy to have a short fuse or feel tired, listeless, and depressed. The rich iron content in wheatgrass works against these issues, and it can help the individual deal with feelings of anxiety, depression, or over-stress, all of which create a bad mental space.
19. Menstrual Pain Easing
Cramps and other menstrual pains can be helped along by wheatgrass thanks to its supply of calcium, vitamin B6, and magnesium.
Dandruff is essentially a skin condition of the scalp. As a result, sufferers can enjoy some relief thanks to the same mix of vitamins and minerals that make wheatgrass an effective tool in the fight against other skin conditions.
In men, it’s the antioxidant properties that enhance fertility. In women, it’s the presence of folic acid. Many fertility doctors will encourage their patients to try out wheatgrass if there are any concerns about conception.
The prep instructions for wheatgrass largely depend on the method you’ve chosen for consumption. If juicing it, use an actual juicer as opposed to the blender. This preserves the quality of the chlorophyll where a blender will oxidize it.
Wheatgrass also can be eaten as a produce or purchased as a tablet.
One of the most popular forms is wheatgrass powder. For this, simply mix it into your favorite beverage or get creative and fix your favorite smoothie with a separate shot of wheatgrass.
Side Effects and Precautions
Wheatgrass does not have many precautions or side effects to consider, but it’s not for everyone. For starters, some will find the taste off-putting. Also, while it’s technically a gluten-free option in the sense that the portions used for consumption do not contain gluten, it comes from the wheat plant.
That means the chance for gluten cross-contamination is pretty high, and that can create problems for individuals suffering from conditions like celiac disease.
Lastly, wheatgrass is prone to mold growth. Consuming a contaminated batch will likely create problems for some people as a result.
Wheatgrass has many of the most valuable nutrients needed to improve your health and wellness. While there is still much to learn about its benefits to human beings, the side effects are few and far between, and the body of anecdotal evidence among average users who believe in it should encourage giving it a try. Have you tried wheatgrass? Did you see any benefits? Share your experiences below.