Wheatgrass- A Potential Green Superfood

In the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle our aim is to meet the contemporary standard of health for all. A prominent catchphrase by Hippocrates “Nature itself is the best Physician”.

This quotation implies that if your diet is bad, medicine will be of no use. But if you eat nutritious and natural food, you won’t need medicine.

How do we build on the success of our predecessors and continue to develop healthy and nutritious foods? How do we educate people who are unaware of past success and have distanced themselves from nature and natural food products?

How do we meet global demand for safe nutrient-dense natural foods?
This article will shed light on one of those natural superfoods that are close to nature.
Nowadays, gulping on health drinks and detox drinks has become a must regimen for people.
As demand is rising for promoting health drinks a lack of well-informed choice and awareness poses risk to people. This article will answer these questions for one natual superfood: wheatgrass which comes with a wide range of health benefits.

To start with, let’s explore what wheatgrass is, it is a food prepared from the cotyledon of the wheat plant (Triticum aestivum) or its relatives crop in the family of Poaceae.

In recent years, people have embraced wheatgrass’s positive impact. It is available in the market in varied forms. It is available in various forms- including powders, juices, liquids, capsules and tablets- constituting an array of healthy alternatives to choose from.

Wheatgrass has been touted as one of the best sources of nutrients due to its high content of protein (with a well-balanced amino acid profile), minerals, vitamins, and active enzymes. Wheatgrass is considered to be the major contributor of antioxidants.

Nutritional Profiling of Wheatgrass is as follows-

1. Vitamins-

Vitamin A- Maintains membrane integrity and enhances skin tone. Required for good eyesight, growth, and development. Present in – colored fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin B- Helps breakdown fat, carbohydrates, and proteins to be used as an energy fuel for the body. Sources- tuna, milk, GLV’s, lean meat, lentils, sunflower seeds, fortified cereals.

Wheatgrass is also a good source vitamin B-17, amygdaline that wards off cancer as reported in a few pieces of research. Found in seeds of fruits like bitter almonds, apple, peaches, and plum.

Vitamin C- Boosts immune system, saves from scurvy, maintains healthy gum. Usually found in citrus fruits like lime, oranges, kiwi, papaya, mango. Wheatgrass contains more vitamin C than oranges.

Vitamin E- Fat soluble natural antioxidant that boosts the immune system, scavenges free radicals in the body, maintains proper blood flow. It also helps in tissue repair. Sources- sunflower seeds, spinach, almonds, olives, and fortified oils.

Vitamin K- Assist in blood clotting helping wounds to heal timely. Maintain normal bone composition. Found in Brussels, sprouted beans, broccoli, kale, spinach.

Proteins and amino acids- Proteins for building muscle strength and provide antibodies, hormones. Amino acids aid in digestion, blood formation.

Enzymes- aid in digestion found in wheatgrass in treating dyspepsia.

Enzymes found in Wheatgrass-

Proteases and Amylases- promote digestion of starch, proteins, fat, and cellulose. Can help to offset worst conditions of leukocytosis, an immune response to food heat over 118 degree Celsius.

Cytochrome oxidase- It is a large transmembrane protein complex in mitochondrion, power plant of cell reacting with oxygen to release energy.

Catalase- a most efficient enzyme that protects each individual cells from the toxic effect of hydrogen peroxide that is produced by bacteria in the body.

Lipases- Enhances digestion of fats, starch, protein in the gastrointestinal tract. In absence of lipases, fat will accumulate in arteries, veins, and capillaries.

2. Minerals-

Iron- Key component of hemoglobin. Sources- bean, nuts, dried fruits, fortified cereals, soybean, and green leafy vegetables.

Calcium- Abundant mineral within the body required for nerve transmission and muscle function mostly found in bones and teeth. Sources- dairy products, sesame seeds

Magnesium- Fourth most abundant mineral in the body maintains healthy bones and teeth. Provide calming effect on nerves and muscles, aids sleep. Prevent fatty infiltration in liver cases.

Potassium- Maintains heartbeat, mineral balance and reduces the onset of diseases. Found in banana, spinach, baked potato with skin.

Zinc- Required for catalytic activity of enzymes, play role in immune function, protein synthesis, wound healing. Mainly present in protein-rich foods and in nuts, beans, seafood, fortified cereals, whole grains, and dairy products.

Sodium- Maintains extracellular fluid volume in the body, acid-base balance, and proper water transport.

Chlorophyll- Have Prophylactic and healing property. The most important element of wheatgrass contained in the cells of chloroplasts about 70% providing proteins, carbohydrates, and fat.

Used as healer inside and outside the body due to its antibacterial properties.

An abundant source of alkaline elements with striking chemical similarity with the blood composition of human’s pH range of 7.4.

Let us have a glance at the positive health claims of wheatgrass as reported in numerous research findings-

Chlorophyll in wheatgrass high in oxygen and light energy, impart a positive effect on Hemoglobin. Chlorophyll gives a green color to grass, almost similar to hemoglobin of humans referred to as ‘Green Blood’.

This green blood remedy is used to cure many diseases like Hypertension, Diabetes, constipation, Eczema, Insomnia to name a few.
• Due to antibacterial properties, it neutralizes infection, subsides inflammation, detoxifies liver and colon. Because it comes with life-saving substances – vitamin B complex and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). Clinical trials show the healing properties of wheatgrass in treating cancer.
• It strengthens immune system owing to its antioxidant proprieties. Research findings have also reported the use of wheatgrass in treating ulcerative colitis.
Fiber content sweeps away high cholesterol and maintains normal blood pressure.
Cure tooth disorders, treat blood disorders- Anemia, and skin disorders such as eczema, skin itching, gangrene. Diseases of joints- osteoarthritis, fracture, and gout both chronic and acute forms.
Heals intestinal ulcers as wheat grass contain bioflavonoids like quercetin, luteolin, apigenin, and chlorophyll.
Wheatgrass is gluten-free as it is prepared only from stem and grass level of the wheat plant, not from the kernel of the seed which has gluten. This is a boon for people suffering from Celiac disease.

Celiac disease (CD) a malabsorption syndrome wherein individual lacks the enzyme to cleave the gluten protein. Research reported consumption of juice of 8-10 tender leaves of wheatgrass gives relief in CD symptoms.

Benjamin Ruskin, MD recommends chlorophyll due to its antiseptic property. He suggests clinical uses of chlorophyll in cleansing of toxins from the body, wound heals, treat varicose veins, ulcers, cure pyorrhea.

In most of the cases, prevent graying of hair, foul-smelling odors, heal rectal sores, cure sinusitis, subside typhoid fever, and prevents eczema as reported in American Journal of Surgery in 1940.

The debate on the subject of nutrition and their effects on human health and the environment is paramount. Generally, intake of wheatgrass is considered to be safe but in few individuals have reported nausea, headache.

Opinions on the benefits and related risks of wheatgrass may arise as intake of it in few can come with the sign of allergies. As they are grown in soils or water contaminated with bacteria and molds when consumed raw.

Although more research is needed to expand the validation and acceptance of wheatgrass as a potential health promoter.

Following steps can bring out positive results in the process of bringing wheatgrass into market prominently:

• To advocate possible health benefits to people by conducting in market confirmation of safety.
• To verify safety at efficacious levels and demonstrate the bioactive component.
• To determine the intake level necessary to achieve the desired state of health benefits.
Selecting the right and nutritious food can be one of the most important decisions that an individual will make. Today, choosing the right food is more important than ever.

The emergence of numerous food industries has brought a lot of alternatives and share of challenges. But it does promise a widening horizon of possibilities for people to reach to a contemporary health standard on a truly global scale.

The Takeaway:

Always buy wheatgrass from trusted and authentic suppliers to ensure its safety to reap its full health benefits.

Wheatgrass cannot be included in daily diet so there is a need to supplement diet with its incorporation in food products.
Avoid wheatgrass if you are allergic to it, also during pregnancy and milk feeding.
Try to notice what dosage and what timings works best for you to take wheatgrass with the help of trial and error.
Along with taking wheatgrass to try to modify your lifestyle in a healthy way to improve overall health.
Before adding wheatgrass to your routines always check for your doctor recommends.
Have you ever tried wheatgrass juice? How does it taste? Do share your reviews.

References:

  • http://en.Wikipedia.org/wiki/wheatgrass.
  • Mujariya, Rajesh & Bodla, Ramesh. (2012). A study on wheat grass and its Nutritional value. 2.
  • Swati p, Sushma D, Indira R, Alka G, Mamta D.2012. Multitude potential of wheat grass juice (Green blood). Chronicles of Young Scientist 1 (2): 23-28.
  • Bar-Sela, Tsailic M , Freid G, Goldberg H (2007). Wheat grass juice may improve hematological toxicity related to chemotherapy in breast cancer patients: a pilot study. Nutrition and Cancer 58(1): 43-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17571966.
  • Marwah Rk, Bansal D, Kaur S and Trehan A (2004). Wheat grass juice reduces transfusion requirements in thallasemic patients. Indian Pediatrics 41: 716-20.
  • Ben-Arve 2002. Wheat grass juice in the treatment of active distal ulcerative colitis: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial. Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, 37(4): 444-9.
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