Wheatgrass Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

wheat grass juice
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Wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum) is a popular juicing ingredient made from the newly sprouted shoots of wheat grains. It is usually sold already juiced or in powder form. Rich in chlorophyll, beta carotene, and antioxidants, wheatgrass is touted as a natural remedy for a number of health conditions. But there is not much convincing scientific evidence for its healing properties.

Wheatgrass Nutrition Facts

The following nutritional information is provided by the USDA for 1 tablespoon (8g) wheatgrass powder.

  • Calories: 25
  • Fat: 0g
  • Sodium: 0mg
  • Carbs: 6g
  • Fiber: 4g
  • Sugar: 0g
  • Protein: 1g
  • Vitamin K: 86mcg

Carbs

While wheatgrass is mostly composed of carbohydrates, it has no sugar and a good proportion of fiber (4 grams per tablespoon of wheatgrass powder). As a result, its glycemic index is very low.

Protein

Wheatgrass has a small amount of protein, but not enough to make it a good source of this important macronutrient.

Fats

There is no fat in wheatgrass.

Vitamins and Minerals

Wheatgrass contains vitamins E, C, and K, along with beta-carotene and B vitamins. Minerals in wheatgrass include iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc, and copper.

While wheatgrass is touted as a nutritional "superfood," other leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, contain more of many of these nutrients. Spinach is a better source of vitamin C, iron, potassium, and calcium than wheatgrass.

Health Benefits

In alternative medicine, proponents claim that wheatgrass offers a broad range of health benefits. For instance, wheatgrass is said to boost the immune system, aid in detox, increase energy, improve digestion, reduce cravings, preserve eyesight, promote weight loss, and stimulate the thyroid.

There is currently a lack of scientific evidence to support the use of wheatgrass as a standard treatment for any health problem. While drinking juices or smoothies containing wheatgrass may offer some nutritional benefits, wheatgrass should not be used as a substitute for standard treatment of any condition. If you're considering using it, make sure to talk with your doctor first. Preliminary research does suggest that wheatgrass may hold promise for certain health conditions.

Eases Ulcerative Colitis Symptoms

Wheatgrass may help people with ulcerative colitis. In one small study, treatment with wheatgrass juice significantly reduced disease activity and the severity of rectal bleeding. Researchers speculate that the antioxidant activity of wheatgrass is beneficial.

Fights Myelotoxicity

Consuming wheatgrass juice may help guard against myelotoxicity caused by chemotherapy, a small study of people with breast cancer suggests. A potentially life-threatening condition, myelotoxicity is marked by suppression of bone marrow activity. An animal study published in 2017 found similar effects.

May Lower Cholesterol

Other research in animals indicates that wheatgrass may help lower cholesterol. In a 2011 study, scientists discovered that treatment with wheatgrass juice helped reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in rats with abnormally high cholesterol levels. However, it's not known whether wheatgrass might have the same cholesterol-lowering effects in humans.

Helps People With Thalassemia

In a small study of children with thalassemia (a blood disorder that causes anemia), some participants received wheatgrass supplements along with blood transfusions and folic acid to treat the disease. Those who took wheatgrass still needed the same number of transfusions as the children who did not take wheatgrass, but the wheatgrass patients reported better quality of life.

Reduces Inflammation

Because wheatgrass is rich in antioxidants, it fights the oxidative stress that causes cell damage and inflammation that can lead to chronic diseases.

Allergies

Wheatgrass may trigger certain side effects (such as nausea, headache, hives, and swelling in the throat). Since hives and a swollen throat can signal a serious allergic reaction, it's important to seek immediate medical attention if you experience either symptom after consuming wheatgrass.

Adverse Effects

The adverse effects of regular use of supplements are poorly understood. It's important to keep in mind that supplements, like wheatgrass powder and tablets, haven't been tested for safety and dietary supplements are largely unregulated. In some cases, the product may deliver doses that differ from the specified amount for each herb. In other cases, the product may be contaminated with other substances such as metals. Also, the safety of supplements in pregnant women, nursing mothers, children, and those with medical conditions or who are taking medications has not been established.

Depending on exactly when it is harvested and how it is processed, wheatgrass can be gluten-free. But if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, you should use caution when consuming wheatgrass. The wheatgrass you purchase could have been harvested after wheat proteins have developed, or it could be cross-contaminated with other gluten-containing products.

Varieties

Natural-food stores often sell bottled juices that contain wheatgrass juice. Wheatgrass is also available in tablet, capsule, and powdered forms. Some stores also sell wheatgrass kits that allow you to grow your own wheatgrass, which you could then add to your own juices and smoothies.

Wheatgrass juice does have more protein, calcium, and vitamin C than wheatgrass powder. However, it also can have more carbs, sugar, and sodium, and no fiber.

Storage and Food Safety

Store wheatgrass powder in a sealed container in a cool, dry place. Check the packaging for storage tips and expiration dates. Store juice in the refrigerator. If you buy fresh wheatgrass or grow your own, keep harvested grass in the refrigerator, where it will last for about a week.

How to Prepare

Use fresh wheatgrass or powder in juices or smoothies, or buy juice on its own or as part of a juice blend. Fresh wheatgrass has a strong flavor that some find unpleasant. Pairing it with strongly flavored fruits can help, or you may prefer to add a sweetener to your beverage.

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Article Sources
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