We’ve all heard of it, whether it was in a magazine, on a “doctor” ran tv show, or perhaps on this site. Superfoods are all the rage in 2018 (and the past decade or so, too), but what are they exactly? While there are no scientific definitions for them, superfoods are generally classified as very nutritious whole foods, with a comprehensive micronutrient and/or amino acid profile.
Usually, they also boast several wellness benefits for a large portion of the population. While every doctor or dietitian might have a different/specific definition and/or a list of food that will fit into this exclusive club of nutrient powerhouses, there is one food that all of them can agree on. Of course from the title, that food is wheatgrass.
What Is Wheatgrass?
A superfood that is exactly what you think it is: a type of grass traditionally used as hay to feed animals, but can also be either juiced or powdered into a consumable form for us. Picked before maturity, usually about a week after sprouting, this gluten-free plant has many surprising benefits for all of us. A few of these benefits being undeniable while others still needing further research to definitively conclude their effects.
In this article, we will be going over all these benefits as well as how to actually consume wheatgrass.
The Benefits Of Wheatgrass
While you might not look at your front yard and think: “there must be a lot of nutrients in that grass”, wheat grass definitely bends this perception. Starting with the basics, wheatgrass is almost a multivitamin in a plant. It contains nutritionally significant levels of vitamins A, B1-12, C, E, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, calcium and potassium. While it won’t be enough to fill your daily needs in one serving, wheatgrass is a powerhouse of micronutrients and shouldn’t be overlooked by other, more flashy benefits.
Another small but important benefit to note is the protein level in wheatgrass, while not high (about a gram in an ounce or 28 grams), is complete. This means it contains all nine essential amino acids we cannot synthesize to keep our bodies functioning properly. The next most notable ingredient in wheatgrass we should talk about is chlorophyll, the pigment in plants that make them green and promotes photosynthesis.
Surprisingly, chlorophyll is a strong antioxidant, which is very important for preventing the production of free radicals. We most definitely don’t want free radicals in our body as they can cause very serious ill health effects from increasing the aging process, dulling of the senses, facilitating physically degenerative diseases as well as mentally degenerative diseases, to even cancer.
Beyond its potent antioxidants, chlorophyll can detox your body by binding to toxins (and even carcinogens) and helping them pass through the body unabsorbed. The benefits don’t stop there though, and go way past what we will talk about in this article, including antimicrobial properties, immune-boosting effects, helping to balance your hormones, helping to increase your satiety, and even prevent body odor! I’m not going into more detail about the benefits of chlorophyll because while wheatgrass is 70% chlorophyll and is the star benefactor, there are extra benefits as well in the other 30%.
To finish off this list strong, animal studies have shown wheatgrass has potential to lower LDL (the bad cholesterol) and raise HDL (the good cholesterol). Other animal studies have shown wheatgrass’s ability to help lower blood sugar levels (possibly by increasing insulin levels naturally) when consumed with or after a high carbohydrate meal, which can be very helpful for those with diabetes or are pre-diabetic. Of course, since these studies were only done on animals, high-quality human studies need to be conducted to prove these benefits can apply to people as well.
Finally, wheatgrass has shown anti-inflammatory benefits in small human studies. Whether this is because of the chlorophyll or the antioxidant-rich vitamins, it most likely is a combination of both.
Take Home Message
As you now can see, there is no doubt that wheatgrass is healthy for you whether you want to keep up your general health or would need it for a more specific benefit. So why is it not more popular you may ask?
For probably one reason and one reason alone, the taste. To put it gently, wheatgrass has a strong, raw, and earthy taste/aftertaste. Which is why it is often sold as a shot, the same way you would take a shot of alcohol and rinse your mouth out with water or a less off-putting liquid afterwards. This is a good method, as adding wheatgrass powder or concentrate to a smoothie will usually overpower the other flavors (but this can potentially be undone with other strong flavors being added like citrus or sweetener). I would recommend the shot if you really can’t bare the taste, a smoothie with other strong flavors if you can create a mixture that works for you, or simply take wheatgrass pills to eliminate this issue altogether.
However you choose to supplement with wheatgrass, this is one of the few superfoods where there is no debate about its inclusion in the club of extremely beneficial nutrition. Whether you are bulking, cutting, trying to improve your mile time, or just keeping up your general fitness and wellbeing, wheatgrass will help you in your various endeavours.