Health fads come and go in today’s world. Recently there’s been an abuse of the word superfood. The word was originally designed for foods that offer significant amounts of nutrients for the body. One superfood I personally consider the most powerful food on the planet is wheatgrass. Wheatgrass is left out of medical conversations; sadly, most people will use other supplements before they consider this powerful form of chlorophyll. It’s time to re-consider.
What is Wheatgrass?
Wheatgrass is a nutritional supplement prepared from the embryonic first leaves, known as cotyledons, of common wheat. It is sold as either a fresh juice or as a freeze-dried powder. Wheatgrass is a nutritional powerhouse packed with chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and amino acids. All wheatgrass is gluten-free because it is extracted from sprouts prior to new seed formation.
The History of Wheatgrass
According to archaeological studies and genetic analysis, wheat plants were first cultivated around 12,000 years ago in the Karaca Dağ mountain region of southeastern Turkey. It is believed to have spread from there to North Africa, East Asia, and Europe. Cultivated wheat was a staple food for ancient Egypt, and stores of emmer, Khorasan, and einkorn wheat have been found preserved in pottery beneath the Saqqara Step Pyramid.
Spaniards brought wheat to North America in the 16th century, and pioneers colonizing the Great Plains in the 1870s planted huge crops of wheat. In the 1940s, a man named Charles Kettering funded a scientific study of the medicinal value of chlorophyll. During this same time period, a holistic health practitioner and nutritionist named Ann Wigmore began advocating the consumption of wheatgrass as a source of chlorophyll and as part of a raw food diet designed to cleanse toxins from the body.
Wheatgrass juice, capsules, and dried powders are widely available in whole foods stores and nutrition centers today, and organic wheatgrass extracts are an ingredient in many nutritional drinks.
What Does Wheatgrass Do?
Wheatgrass is high in dietary fiber and is a good source of vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K. It provides niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, and thiamin, and is a good source of the minerals copper, iron, manganese, potassium, selenium, and zinc.
According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, vegetables and fruits are an important part of a balanced, nutritional diet, and everyone would benefit from increased vegetable and fruit consumption. Hectic schedules and a lack of time for cooking, however, often result in a reduction of vegetables and fruit rather than an increase. The addition of wheatgrass, which is widely available and easily incorporated into any diet, would be a tremendous benefit to a diet lacking in vegetables.
How Does Wheatgrass Work?
The rich nutritional content of wheatgrass boosts immunity and helps rid the body of waste. It has been suggested that wheatgrass is a powerful ally in the treatment of illnesses such as anemia, diabetes, infections, joint pain and even cancer. Although definitive scientific studies have not yet verified these claims, the vitamins and minerals found in wheatgrass are known to have therapeutic effects on all of these ailments, and it is easy to see how wheatgrass could positively impact their prognosis.
What Do Nutritionists Think About Wheatgrass?
“It does contain beneficial nutrients such as vitamins C, E and K, niacin, biotin, choline, lutein, copper, folic acid and calcium. My clients who have used wheat grass mostly say that they feel a rush after consuming this. Due to the niacin, it can act as a vasodilator, and so athletes have used it for this effect as well.” -- Nicole Fasules, board-certified sports dietitian and certified personal trainer at wayoflifenutrition.com
“The leaves of the cereal grasses provide the nearest thing this planet offers to the perfect food.” -- Dr Yoshihide Hagiwara, M.D., pharmacological researcher and founder of Green Foods Corporation
If you’re pregnant or breast feeding, consult with your doctor as wheatgrass is not recommended. There’s also a demand for more research around wheat grass. Personally, I believe in its power. Good healthy diets support it. The South Beach Diet, the Mediterranean Diet, Nu Skins TR90 diet, and many others also support the use of wheatgrass.