Updated: Apr 10, 2020
Happy Monday everyone! After a weekend filled with fun birthday celebrations I could sure use some cleansing. I was recently doing a demo at a health food store and throughout my demo I was staring at this jar of wheatgrass powder and it was calling my name. Yeah, strange! So I decided to buy it. Perhaps my body was telling me I needed some green… some serious green. This week for my Detox Monday blog section, I decided to highlight some of the benefits of wheatgrass.
What exactly is Wheatgrass?
Wheatgrass is the young grass of the common wheat plant called Triticum aestivum. Wheatgrass contains vitamins and minerals and, no, it does not contain gluten. You can find it in capsule or powder form or freshly juiced. Wheatgrass is considered a superfood and is commonly used for detoxification, strengthening the immune system, among others. Here are five benefits of wheatgrass:
1. Rich in Nutrients and Antioxidants
Wheatgrass is high in the antioxidant vitamins A, C, E, K; B vitamins; the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, selenium and amino acids, the building blocks of protein. The chlorophyll is the pigment which gives wheatgrass (and all plants) its bright green colour. The chlorophyll in wheatgrass is suggested to be particularly beneficial. Suggested benefits include liver detoxifying, free-radical scavenging from the antioxidant activity, alkalizing and oxygenating to cells (=increased energy). Whether or not you agree with foods being detoxifying, cleansing or alkalizing, there is no denying that, along with its nutrients, wheatgrass is a nutrition powerhouse.
It is not surprising that wheatgrass is anti-inflammatory given its rich nutrient content and antioxidant activity. Foods rich in antioxidants tend to have potent anti-inflammatory benefits. Wheatgrass may not only help reduce systemic inflammation but some studies also suggest that it may help reduce inflammation in certain diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, such as ulcerative colitis. If you want to try to reduce inflammation, include wheatgrass in your diet along with other anti-inflammatory foods like fruits, vegetables and healthy fats.
3. Lower Cholesterol and Blood Sugar Levels
Some animal studies suggest that wheatgrass can reduce LDL “bad” cholesterol while raising “good” HDL cholesterol. Again, this benefit can be largely attributed to the potent antioxidants found in the chlorophyll. Similarly, other (animal) studies suggest that daily wheatgrass intake may be protective against diabetes by lowering blood sugar levels in diabetic animals. If you want to lower your blood sugar and cholesterol levels, be sure to use wheatgrass as a supplement to your already healthy, blood-sugar and cholesterol regulating diet (fibre fibre fibre!).
4. Boosts Immunity
Wheatgrass may improve the immune system through its anti-bacterial properties and stimulation of the lymph- the system that transports white blood cells and removes wastes. The vitamins and minerals in wheatgrass also help keep the immune system strong and healthy. Some studies showed that the antioxidants in wheatgrass may even help kill cancer cells. Other research found that wheatgrass helped to reduce the adverse side-effects of chemotherapy. There isn’t a whole lot of research on this topic, however, so speak to your doctor if you have any serious medical conditions before taking wheatgrass.
5. Promote Weight Loss
Wheatgrass contains compounds called thylakoids which is where sunlight is absorbed for photosynthesis. These compounds may help aid in weight loss by increasing satiety, as found in a few animal studies. Others suggest that wheatgrass can help improve thyroid function in those with a sluggish thyroid. This is because wheatgrass contains selenium, a mineral needed for proper thyroid function. In fact, the thyroid gland has one of the highest selenium concentrations in the body. The thyroid gland helps to regulate your metabolic rate. If you have a slow working thyroid- or hypothyroid- you may gain weight easily and/or lose weight with great difficulty. Accompany your wheatgrass shot with a couple of Brazil nuts and you’re sure to meet your daily selenium needs.
Wheatgrass has been reported to cause nausea, headaches and diarrhea. If you’ve never taken wheatgrass it’s best to start with lower doses. I bought some wheatgrass powder and started taking one teaspoon every couple of days. Now I’m taking two to three teaspoons (1 tablespoon approx.)…every few days. I take it first thing in the morning in some water or throw it in my smoothie. Also, like any supplement, you don’t need to take it long-term. Finally, it is susceptible to mold growth. If you’re growing it at home, watch for mold or bitter tasting wheatgrass. There isn’t a whole lot of research to back the health claims of wheatgrass; however, it is considered safe to consume and does not cause major side effects.
So what do you say? Ready for a little cleansing?