The use of wheatgrass to promote health is widespread today. Wheatgrass has been categorized as a potent superfood. It is common for fresh wheatgrass juice or wheatgrass powder to be touted for its various positive benefits. Proponents claim that wheatgrass can detoxify the body, boost red blood cell production, inhibit cancer growth, reduce system acidity, increase energy, deliver a powerful dose of essential nutrients and elevate overall health.
Yet, you may wonder if these claims about wheatgrass have any scientific evidence to support them and what benefits you can expect. Since many of these claims have insufficient research to commend them, highlighting the positive properties of wheatgrass that are backed by solid science is important.
Let’s examine 10 proven health benefits of this superfood in more detail below.
Typically grown in the United States and Europe, wheatgrass is simply the green leafy first shoots of the common wheat plant. The wheatgrass used in health supplements is usually grown for seven days after germination of the wheat seeds.
Wheatgrass is noted for its bright green color, which many sources indicate is due to its high chlorophyll content. While one prominent wheatgrass proponent has stated that chlorophyll content in most plants (including wheatgrass) is quite small, most sources state that wheatgrass juice is up to 70% chlorophyll by content.
Fresh wheatgrass smoothie
Wheatgrass is known to have a strong flavor, and when not grown or harvested correctly, it can be bitter in taste. Most people describe it as having an intense flavor of green plants or vegetables, and it is often added to health smoothies with other ingredients to cover its taste.
This superfood is most often sold in powdered form. Fresh wheatgrass is dried before being ground up into powder. Yet, fresh wheatgrass shots are also sold, they contain only a small, concentrated dose of this superfood with no other ingredients added.
Zinc is classified as an essential trace element, because it must be present for your body to function correctly. Wheatgrass delivers more than 400% of the recommended daily value of zinc. What specific benefits does zinc provide?
Zinc is a necessary part of carbohydrate digestion, cell division, the healing of wounds and the growth of cells in your body. Of all the trace elements, only iron has a higher concentration within the body – making zinc a critical compound to source from your diet.
You may recognize zinc for its use in various immunity boosting products, especially ones designed to shorten the length and severity of the common cold. This is due to zinc’s role in your immune system. Research indicates that zinc may be able reduce the duration of a cold. WebMD indicates that zinc is possibly helpful for treating more than 30 different health issues. This means that at least some research has suggested that zinc is effective for each condition.
Including acne, age-related macular degeneration, anorexia, ADHD, burns, gingivitis, depression, halitosis and osteoporosis. While zinc is possibly effective for each of these conditions only under very specific circumstances (for example, zinc may reduce the risk of pneumonia, but only in undernourished children), these findings still demonstrate the positive properties of this essential trace element.
We lack proper scientific research to support this, but wheatgrass could possibly be used to treator prevent anemia. Solid research needs to be performed to confirm or deny this, but it is already known that wheatgrass provides a generous helping of iron with every serving.
Four grams of wheatgrass contains a full 44% of the recommended daily value for iron. Since iron supplements are used to treat iron deficiency anemia or prevent its recurrence, adding wheatgrass juice to your daily regimen won’t hurt if you tend to become anemic easily.
In addition, iron is vital for the production of hemoglobin, the component of red blood cells that transports oxygen. Yet, many people are lacking in this essential mineral. In fact, WebMD states that the single most common nutritional deficiency in the U.S. today is low iron. For this reason, due to its plentiful iron content, adding wheatgrass to your diet can be a sound choice.
Another reason that wheatgrass could be considered a superfood, is its potentially positive impact on intestinal health. For example, one study set out to determine whether wheatgrass would help people suffering from active ulcerative colitis.
Participants who drank 100 ml of wheatgrass juice every da, saw their ulcerative colitis go into remission sooner. The fiber oligosaccharides within wheatgrass may promote better intestinal health. While further research is needed to determine whether fiber oligosaccharides can benefit everyone (and not just those with ulcerative colitis), these results are encouraging.
Most sources state that wheatgrass juice is up to 70% chlorophyll. Interestingly, research on chlorophyll’s ability to speed the healing of wounds has been promising. One study that applied chlorophyll topically onto wounds in spray form concluded that this treatment was of significant benefit.
It remains to be seen whether taking chlorophyll orally will have the same effect, but this research study showed that chlorophyll can have a positive impact on healing.
Currently, there is much debate over wheatgrass can detoxify the body. Most of this debate is centered around the fact that there is insufficient scientific research on this topic at the present time. However, there are abundant anecdotal accounts of this superfood’s ability to detoxify the body, with many people swearing by the increased vitality and health that wheatgrass brings.
Others cite the fact that wheatgrass has a potent alkalizing effect in the body, due to its place on the base side of the pH scale. Thus, they state that wheatgrass can combat excessive acidity in the body and instigate a cleansing effect. Again, research to prove this claim is insufficient, which simply means that more study is needed.
In the available research, one study did find that low doses of ingested aflatoxin B1 were effectively eliminated by taking chlorophyll supplements.
Upon drinking wheatgrass juice or taking wheatgrass powder, some people report feeling a boost of energy. This has not been formally studied and could be due to the placebo effect or other nutritional items within the diet. However, it may also be due to the B vitamins thatare present in wheatgrass.
Wheatgrass is a powerhouse supplier of a complex of B vitamins, providing naturally high doses. Specifically, a 4 g serving of wheatgrass provides 733% of the recommended daily value for vitamin B1, an incredible 15,294% of vitamin B2, 1,260% of vitamin B3, 1,950% of vitamin B6 and 360% of vitamin B5. Since B vitamins are responsible for helping the body to convert food into energy, the B vitamin content of wheatgrass may be responsible for the anecdotal reports of its energizing effect.
If wheatgrass does indeed have potent detoxification properties, then its ability to reduce body odor may come as no surprise. After all, it would seem to be common sense, that the lower the toxic load within the body, the less odor it produces. While this is only speculative in nature, and there is no rigorous scientific evidence, one study did find this to be true.
Researchers gave chlorophyllin tablets to 62 geriatric participants residing in a nursing home. What were the results? They found that both fecal and body odors were reduced flatulence decreased as well.
PRO TIP: What to eat to eliminate body odor?
To be clear, the study did not determine the mechanism of action, so it did not specify that detoxification was the cause. However, this study did display clearly that chlorophyllin (a derivate of chlorophyll) can cause the body to produce less odor and gas. This would seem to indicate a healthier gastrointestinal system and a lower toxic load though more research is needed for a definitive conclusion.
Since most sources hold that wheatgrass is up to 70% chlorophyll, it may be effective for reducing body and fecal odor, as well as gas.
Wheatgrass has been classified as a superfood in part, due to its high vitamin content. Not only is it high in iron, zinc and many B vitamins, but wheatgrass also contains high levels of vitamin E. In fact, a single 4 g serving of wheatgrass delivers 1,600% the recommended daily value of vitamin E, which has a variety of health benefits.
According to Dr. Andrew Weil, a Harvard-educated doctor who is well-known for promoting integrative medicine and proper nutrition, vitamin E has several positive effects on the body. Vitamin E is vital for maintaining muscle, but it is also used in the creation of new red blood cells. Some evidence also suggests that vitamin E may prevent oxidative damage (which could result in heart disease), boost immunity, reduce the risk of cancer, protect certain aspects of eye health for diabetes patients and alleviate Alzheimer’s symptoms.
This proposed benefit of wheatgrass is in its infant stages, as the only studies to indicate this effect were performed on animals. However, using animal models before moving on to human trials is common and the results have been positive thus far.
For instance, one study found that wheatgrass juice caused rats to excrete more cholesterol in their feces. Another study purposely fed rabbits a high-fat diet in order to induce hyperlipidemia (a term for high cholesterol or high triglyceride levels in the blood).
Researchers found that wheatgrass lowered total cholesterol in these rabbits and boosted their beneficial HDL cholesterol. In addition, there was evidence of protection against the oxidative stress that is commonly present with high lipid levels.
Finally, there is some evidence to suggest that wheatgrass has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects the body. The antioxidant impact was seen in the aforementioned study of hyplerlipidemic rabbits that noted an increase in both vitamin C and glutathione levels with wheatgrass supplementation.
This may have been due to the lowering of oxidative stress caused by the high levels of lipids in the blood, rather than by high amounts of vitamin C and glutathione within wheatgrass itself.
However, the previously mentioned study of people with ulcerative colitis, indicated a presumed increase in antioxidant activity. This would suggest that the increase in antioxidant activity isn’t due to the reduction of cholesterol alone, though researches did not track blood lipid levels in this particular study. That being said, since glutathione is considered by some to be the most powerful antioxidant compound available, this effect of wheatgrass is significant.
In terms of anti-inflammatory action, wheatgrass contains a bioflavonoid called apigenin. One study that used apigenin on its own (not sourced from wheatgrass) concluded that the bioflavonoid may be useful in managing inflammatory diseases. Since wheatgrass contains apigenin, it is reasonable to assume that these benefits would still be present, though whether the dose is high enough remains to be seen.
With a whole food like wheatgrass, it is reasonable to assume that no major side effects may be present. However, in certain cases you may want to speak with your doctor or use wheatgrass with caution. For instance, the vitamin E content within wheatgrass may interfere with cholesterol-lowering medication. In addition, you should speak with your doctor if you are currently on a blood-thinning medication as vitamin E can interact with this drug as well.
Other side effects that people sometimes report are nausea and loss of appetite. It is unclear whether this is due to the strong taste of wheatgrass or the effect that it has in the body. Those experts who believe that wheatgrass does in fact have a detoxifying effect caution that you should add it to your diet slowly. Otherwise, you may experience what is called a Herxheimer reaction, which is simply your body’s release of too many stored toxins all at once.
With these 10 proven benefits that wheatgrass may provide adding this superfood to your diet may be an excellent choice. You’ve learned that wheatgrass contains high levels of iron, vitamin E, zinc and many B vitamins. In addition, wheatgrass may work to reduce body odor, detoxify your system, promote intestinal health, aid in wound healing (though topical application may be needed for this to be effective), provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits and even lower cholesterol.
While more research is needed on the properties of wheatgrass, all of the benefits described abowe are backed by exusting. Therefore, with all of these potential health benefits to commend it, wheatgrass is a potent superfood that shouldn’t be dismissed.
Writer, contributor and a huge fan of healthy lifestyle. I write about my own experiences with different types of food.