If you haven’t jumped on the wheatgrass bandwagon yet, it’s not too late. Yes, OK, wheatgrass can seem like the kind of health trend you chalk up to hipsters, treehuggers, and more-or-less-obsessed health and fitness enthusiasts, but if folks are wheatgrass obsessed, it’s for good reason: wheatgrass juice is perhaps the healthiest food out there, and wheatgrass benefits run the gamut, from increased energy levels to improved overall health to head-to-toe beauty.
Still not convinced? Maybe these 35 reasons why wheatgrass need to become part of your daily routine will change your tune.
Nutritional Analysis of Wheatgrass
Wheatgrass boasts some impressive nutritional stats. It’s an excellent source of chlorophyll, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E, and to top it all off wheatgrass contains 98 of 102 earth elements found in soil, including phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium as well as essential enzymes and 19 amino acids. Wheatgrass is also overflowing with vitamins, and liver enzymes.
The star of wheatgrass’ nutritional makeup is chlorophyll, a phytochemical that gives dark leafy greens their color. Chlorophyll is essentially the blood of plants; and in humans, it reverses aging, suppresses hunger, cleanses the blood, combats odor, and has been linked to the prevention of cancer. Wheatgrass is made up of 70 percent chlorophyll — it’s no wonder it’s so powerful.
But it’s not just what it contains — it’s the amounts that are important. Holistic nutritionist Carina Parikh, MScN, MSiMR notes that it contains these elements “in a balanced ratio that is optimal for the human body.”
How to Integrate Wheatgrass into Your Daily Routine
Don’t underestimate wheatgrass – it’s very potent. Consuming too much at any given time can render you nauseous and feeling sick.
“If you detox too quickly, you can experience side effects such as headache, fatigue, and nausea,” Parikh warns.
- Ease into a wheatgrass routine, by starting with one ounce per day and slowly graduating up to two ounces per day.
- Wheatgrass should always be consumed on an empty stomach or with other fruits and vegetables. It should never be consumed after a meal, otherwise it will make you feel nauseated.
Young children, pregnant women, and the elderly should consult their doctors before adding wheatgrass to their diets.
Wheatgrass image via Shutterstock
35 Incredible Wheatgrass Benefits
Wheatgrass is unlike any other health food. Here are 35 reasons to incorporate wheatgrass into your daily routine.
- Treat Skin Diseases
Wheatgrass can be used to treat skin diseases such as eczema and psoriasis. While no clinical studies have been conducted as yet to support this, many testimonials of home treatments with wheatgrass seem to prove this claim.
There are several ways you can go about using wheatgrass for your skin. Pour wheatgrass juice into a few holes in an ice cube tray, freeze, and rub a cube across blemishes on your skin as well as on any scars or damaged areas. Alternatively, you could pour a cup of wheatgrass juice or powder into a warm bath and soak your body in the bath for at least 30 minutes.
- Lose Weight
If you have a few pounds to lose, wheatgrass may be the answer.
Wheatgrass contains selenium, which is crucial for the healthy functioning of the thyroid gland. According to a 2013 study in Clinical Endocrinology, adding selenium to your diet can help improve irregular thyroid function, even when linked to other issues such as autoimmune diseases.
The thyroid is one of your body’s natural weight management tools, so ensure that your thyroid is healthy by downing a wheatgrass shot first thing in the morning.
- Reduce Food Cravings
Wheatgrass is loaded with so many nutrients that your body isn’t lusting for other foods to compensate for any lack of vitamins or minerals. Some common nutrient deficiencies — such as magnesium, iron, and omega-3s — can make you snack as your body searches for a source of these much-needed minerals. While the idea of your body searching for a precise food — such as almonds when you’re magnesium-deficient — is an old wives’ tale according to Dr. Mike Roussell, studies have shown that sugar cravings can often be linked to calcium and magnesium deficiencies, according to nutritionist Caroline Pearce.
Take a wheatgrass supplement (or juice shot) each morning on an empty stomach, and it may prevent overeating throughout the day.
- Detox Your Cells
Wheatgrass is highly alkaline and high in nutrients, making it the perfect tool for a detox. While the jury is still out on whether alkaline diets can truly change the alkalinity or acidity of your blood, nutritionists agree that by eating an alkaline diet, we inadvertently end up eating healthier.
As Dr. Melinda Ratini told WebMD, “The foods you’re supposed to eat on the alkaline diet are good for you and will support a healthy weight loss: lots of fruits and vegetables, and lots of water.”
No matter how you slice it, a move towards a more alkaline diet is a good idea. Accompanied by other alkaline foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and legumes, wheatgrass is a great way to prime your cell function.
- Improve Immunity
One of the top documented wheatgrass benefits is its ability to increase red blood cells in the body, Parikh notes, making it an excellent immunity booster.
A 2004 study in the journal of Indian Pediatrics showed that wheatgrass was such a powerful red blood cell booster it was able to reduce the need for transfusions in patients.
Take a shot when you’re particularly susceptible to cold, flu, and infection to give your immune system a jolt.
- Stimulate Circulation
Wheatgrass has the ability to increase the amount of oxygen in the blood, making it a great way to stimulate circulation.
While a 2008 study in the Internet Journal of Alternative Medicine showed that wheatgrass does not significantly increase the blood oxygen levels of resting individuals, a follow-up study in the same journal showed that wheatgrass did, in fact, increase oxygen levels when taken directly before exercise.
To take advantage of this benefit, take a shot of wheatgrass before beginning your regular exercise regime.
- Improve Digestion
Instead of reaching for antacids to relieve heartburn or indigestion, introduce wheatgrass into your daily regimen.
Wheatgrass contains several elements that can boost digestion, including a great deal of fiber, and B complex vitamins, which boost the function of the muscles of the digestive system, according to Dr. Marc Micozzi.
“In general (B complex vitamins) help move energy obtained from food into the tissue cells, where it is needed,” he says. Thiamine helps convert carbs into energy, and riboflavin keeps the mucosal lining of your digestive tract healthy; wheatgrass contains both.
- Treat Arthritis
Health experts believe wheatgrass is effective in treating arthritis. A 2012 study in the International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Research showed that rheumatoid arthritis patients who followed a raw vegetarian diet rich in lactobacilli saw decreased symptoms, and that nearly half of these benefits were due to the increased consumption of fermented wheat drinks, wheatgrass drinks, fiber, and iron.
Chlorophyll is thought to fight inflammation, which is associated with joint pain and may be the reason wheatgrass is so helpful in these cases.
- Reduce Fatigue
When you experience fatigue, your body is likely deprived of rest and is dealing with a weakened immune system.
Not only does chlorophyll boost the immune system, it also helps to increase oxygen supply in your body’s cells and tissues, contributing to cell regeneration, which heals the body and reduces fatigue symptoms.
Chlorophyll is also naturally regenerative for the adrenal glands, according to Ellen Tart-Jensen, Ph.D, D.Sc. Boosting the adrenal system is crucial for sufferers of chronic fatigue.
- Get Rid of Body Odor
Wheatgrass has been attributed with natural body odor reduction properties since the 1950s. It is said that regular consumption or application of wheatgrass can help decrease body odor.
While studies have yet to confirm any direct correlation between the consumption of wheatgrass and reduced body odor, studies have shown that body odor is worse in those who are not consuming enough fiber, as body odor can be a sign of poor digestion or gut health, according to Kevin Wilson, ND.
“Particularly bad-smelling sweat may be due to problems digesting dietary fats (causing a rancid odor) or a magnesium deficiency (producing a locker-room smell),” he writes for BottomLineInc. Luckily, wheatgrass helps on both fronts.
- Treat Skin Wounds
By regenerating cells, wheatgrass juice can treat skin wounds and help them heal faster. A 2014 study in the Journal of Science and Healing Outcomes showed that topical application of wheatgrass was so powerful it was able to reduce plantar lesions in leprosy patients.
To use wheatgrass topically, dab wheatgrass juice on the skin with a cotton ball, and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing and patting dry with a towel.
- Prevent Tooth Decay
Wheatgrass has natural antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can increase mouth health and reduce the risk of cavities and gum inflammation when drunk.
This stems from the chlorophyll contained in wheatgrass, which, according to a study in 2007 study in Revista Sul-Brasileira de Odontologia, is so powerful in its antimicrobial properties that it was shown to have effects on curing candida albicans, which may mean that wheatgrass can help treat cases of oral thrush as well.
- Cleanse the Liver
Wheatgrass is probably best known for its effects on the liver.
The liver processes what the body ingests, and with its detoxifying properties, nutrients, and enzymes, wheatgrass is able to restore and revitalize this crucial organ. A 2014 study in the Journal of Membrane Biology showed that wheatgrass consumption could even protect the liver against the detrimental effects of alcohol.
- Treat Sunburn
Just as wheatgrass is able to treat wounds, it is also able to accelerate the healing process of burnt skin, according to a 1945 study. While no more recent scientific studies have yet been conducted, the great deal of anecdotal evidence surrounding this use of wheatgrass — complete with its proven anti-inflammatory benefits — gives us hope that wheatgrass’ properties extend this far.
Dab wheatgrass juice to the skin with a cotton ball and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing and patting dry with a towel.
- Stabilize Lipid Levels
Wheatgrass improves lipid levels, which means it’s a great tool for managing high cholesterol. A 2011 study in Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica showed that wheatgrass reduced hyperlipidemia in rats and could be a tool to aid in reducing cholesterol.
- Clear Sinus Congestion
As wheatgrass supports immunity and reduces inflammation, it can also be an excellent tool for reducing congestion.
Some tout the benefits of snorting wheatgrass juice through the nose to clear the sinuses by pulling toxins and breaking up mucus–which we don’t recommend. Fortunately, you can just as easily reap these benefits by drinking wheatgrass.
- Get Rid of Acne
Wheatgrass’ antibacterial benefits and its ability to reduce chronic inflammation combine to make wheatgrass an excellent tool to reduce acne and occasional breakouts.
- Prevent Cancer
Wheatgrass’s anti-cancer benefits stem from its blood oxygenating ability; cancer thrives in a low-oxygen environment, so wheatgrass may contribute to cancer prevention in this way.
In addition, Parikh notes, “Wheatgrass has enzymes that fight carcinogens and reduce the toxic load of radiation, pollution, and heavy metals.”
Just remember that since wheatgrass’ ability to oxygenate the blood is activated with exercise, pair your wheatgrass shots with your favorite workout.
- Fight the Common Cold
Steer clear of colds with wheatgrass supplements to boost immunity and make sure your body is getting all the vitamins it needs.
If you aren’t keen on taking wheatgrass supplements year round, instead home in on the cold-weather seasons, where the chances of contracting the common cold is much higher.
- Treat a Hangover
The abundance of alkalinity in wheatgrass may offset the acidity caused by alcohol consumption, which means that wheatgrass could be a great way to start off the morning after.
Even if you’re not convinced that you can change the alkalinity of your blood, however, it’s never a bad idea to add extra vitamins and minerals to your routine after a night of drinking.
- Improve the Mood
Wheatgrass can improve your mood in a variety of ways.
Not only, according to a 2014 literature review in the Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical Technology and Innovation, does it boost the adrenal system thanks to its vitamin K and magnesium content, helping your body to better deal with stress, but it’s also rich in iron. A deficiency in iron can cause fatigue, which worsens mood and makes you feel blasé and unenthused, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The vitamins in wheatgrass are effective in helping you to overcome anxiety and achieve a better state of mental health, and its helpfulness in boosting the adrenal system allows you to better manage stress.
- Fight Depression
A 2008 study in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry addressed an all-important topic often overlooked by nutritional science: while we often tout the benefits of different foods for physical health, foods can also benefit mental health, and not just when it comes to your mood.
The study showed that keeping iron levels balanced is crucial for those suffering from depression, and the iron in wheatgrass is one way to contribute to this.
- Improve the Appearance of Nails
A glance at your nails can give you a pretty good idea of the state of your health. A lack of iron in your diet or poor circulation are often the main reasons why your nails are weak, have white spots, or are rough in texture and yellow or blue in color.
Wheatgrass’ ability to boost red blood cell health also boosts circulation, allowing blood to reach the ends of your fingers and giving life to otherwise lackluster nails.
- Ease Menstrual Pains
Irregular and painful menstrual cycles can be attributed to malnourishment or vitamin and mineral deficiencies, particularly of magnesium and niacin, according to a 1981 study in the American Journal of Clinical nutrition.
Wheatgrass’s abundance of vitamins helps to fill in any holes in your diet, helping you to weather through that time of the month more easily.
- Combat Bowel Inflammation
In addition to wheatgrass’ general anti-inflammatory qualities, it has been proven to fight inflammation in the bowel linked to several diseases including Crohn’s and IBS.
- Neutralize Infections
The chlorophyll in wheatgrass helps to fight off bacterial infections and bring the body into equilibrium. It does this in several ways: it prevents general inflammation, it improves your body’s natural immunity, and it contains anti-bacterial and anti-microbial agents. With these qualities combined, wheatgrass becomes excellent at neutralizing a myriad of infections.
- Slow Aging
The amino acid chains and antioxidants in wheatgrass can help repair damaged DNA and reduce the effect of free radicals, which harm these essential elements of our cells, according to a 2006 study in Phytotherapy Research.
Damaged DNA can wreak havoc in your body, causing sterility, genetic abnormalities, and abnormal or quicker aging, and supplementing with wheatgrass is a great way to stave off these and other related issues.
- Fight Radiation
In one study, wheatgrass extract proved successful in topically treating acute radiation-induced skin reactions. In fact, studies conducted by the U.S. Army showed that guinea pigs exposed to radiation and then given chlorophyll-rich diets had half the mortality rates of the control group.
We are exposed to radiation on a daily basis, from our iPhones to iPads, and wheatgrass makes for a useful tool in offsetting overexposure.
- Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
Wheatgrass was shown to be a powerful anti-hyperglycemic agent in a 2016 study in Toxicology and Industrial Health.
The study showed that wheatgrass could be beneficial for those suffering from diabetes or other hyperglycemic issues. This makes it a fitting supplement for those with diabetes or who are trying to reduce blood sugar levels.
- Feed Your Brain
The chlorophyll in wheatgrass fuels the body with oxygen, thanks to its ability to increase red blood cell health. Oxygen is vital to many body processes, especially for the brain, which uses 25 percent of the body’s oxygen supply. Wheatgrass is, quite literally, brain food.
- Get Rid of Dandruff
Dandruff thrives on a dry, unhealthy scalp. While no clinical studies have proven wheatgrass’s ability to cure this problem, countless people affirm that rinsing the hair with wheatgrass can help to balance the pH of your scalp and ultimately repair it, and wheatgrass’ ability to improve other skin ailments makes this home remedy worth a try.
- Increase Fertility
If you’re trying for a baby, get a shot of wheatgrass into your hubby’s breakfast too.
Wheatgrass contains P4D1, a compound that impacts sperm cells and DNA, ultimately increasing fertility, according to Dr. Yasuo Hotta, a biologist at the University of California, San Diego.
- Develop a More Discernible Palate
Including nutrient-dense foods like wheatgrass in your diet can help you wean off of unhealthy, nutritionally-devoid foods. By balancing your body’s pH and satisfying your nutritional needs — not to mention developing a healthy habit — , wheatgrass steers you away from cravings for foods packed with sugar, excess fat, and preservatives, and ultimately trains your taste buds to start craving healthier foods and to appreciate subtle flavors more fully.
Wheatgrass, as its name suggests, is a young grass of the common wheat plant, Triticum aestivum, a subspecies of the family Poaceae.
Wheatgrass can be cultivated outdoors, but is commonly grown indoors on trays filled with potting mix. As the leaves grow, they eventually split, in what is known as the “jointing stage.” It is at this point that the wheatgrass has reached its greatest nutritional value, and the blades can be snipped off, allowing for a second round of leaves to grow. After the second round grows to the point of splitting, the crop is usually finished, although a third round is sometimes possible.
Wheatgrass juice is often compared to grass in flavor, which means that some people, no matter how many wheatgrass benefits they know to be true, just can’t take the plunge.
Wheatgrass supplement image via Shutterstock
But for those who struggle to ingest wheatgrass juice, there’s luckily another option, aside from pinching your nose and taking a swig. Wheatgrass is available in many different forms.
Powders, capsules, and tablets are all available, made with dehydrated or freeze-dried wheatgrass. While these products are definitely easier to use, it’s always best to have the fresh product. You can purchase it in stores, or even grow it yourself.
Cut wheatgrass can be placed into an airtight container and survive about seven to eight days in the refrigerator. Juice it right before you drink it for maximum health benefits.
Sample Wheatgrass Benefits for Yourself with this Improved Green Smoothie
Add wheatgrass powder or juice to your morning smoothie for an extra health kick to get your day off to the right start. Just add one teaspoon of wheatgrass powder or one ounce of wheatgrass juice to each serving.
Spinach Smoothie Image from Shutterstock
Wheatgrass Green Smoothie
1 ½ bananas, peeled, chopped, and frozen
Small handful of fresh spinach
1 teaspoon wheatgrass powder or 1 ounce wheatgrass juice
2 Medjool dates, seeded
Dash of ground cinnamon
Place all the ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Drink immediately.
Benefits of Wheatgrass through the Ages
Wheatgrass consumption goes way back, some 5,000 years to ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian civilizations. Egyptians held the wheatgrass’ leafy blades as sacred and honored them for their health benefits.
It wasn’t until the 1930s, however, that wheatgrass became an American superfood. American agricultural chemist Dr. Charles Schnabel compared wheatgrass to other nutrient-dense vegetables, like spinach, broccoli, and alfalfa, and found wheatgrass to be dramatically superior in improving the health of livestock.
One of his most famous studies centered on the livelihood and egg output of 106 hens. When Schnabel received the hens, they were sick and dying. Schnabel restored their health by feeding them a mixture of fresh cut, young oat grasses and greens. On July 31, 1930, his efforts proved fruitful – he got 126 eggs from 106 hens; a remarkable feat, considering that hens generally lay a maximum of one egg per day.
In the 1940s, Schnabel, now dubbed “Father of Wheatgrass,” debuted a wheatgrass powder on the market. By the 1950s, cereal grass tablets were America’s best-selling multi-vitamin and mineral supplements.
In the 1950s, Lithuanian-American nutritionist and whole-foods advocate Ann Wigmore began to juice wheatgrass. It is said that Wigmore turned her hair from dark grey to jet black in her late years by way of her wheatgrass-fueled dietary protocol; she even gave locks away to be tested, showing that her hair color was entirely natural.
Later, Wigmore would form the Hippocrates Health Institute in Boston, where she would educate thousands on the benefits of wheatgrass and plant-based living. She died at the ripe old age of 84 from smoke inhalation. Many people today attribute her long life to wheatgrass benefits — and hope to reap the same for themselves.
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Wheatgrass Image via Shutterstock