Wheat grass boasts an assortment of nutrients and phytochemicals, and is popular as a juice and dietary supplement. Along with containing calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A, wheat grass contains ample amounts of the green plant pigment chlorophyll. Although wheat grass is purported to boost immunity and alleviate some diseases, it's uncertain whether chlorophyll plays a role in these health benefits.
Explanation of Chlorophyll
Chlorophyll is a green-pigmented molecule that allows plants to absorb energy from the sun and harness it for photosynthesis, the process of creating carbohydrates from water and carbon dioxide. Found only in green plants, chlorophyll has a molecular structure similar to that of hemoglobin in blood, according to the University of Bristol School of Chemistry. Like other grasses, the young, green blades of the wheat grass plant are an abundant source of this molecule.
Proponents of wheat grass believe this food can boost your immune system and help you heal from diseases such as cancer, diabetes, ulcerative colitis and arthritis, while also improving digestion and fighting harmful bacteria in your body. Many of these healing effects are attributed to the liquid chlorophyll found in wheat grass, which wheat-grass advocates claim can rebuild the bloodstream, revitalize tissues and detoxify the body. Ann Wigmore, a natural health practitioner and one of the earliest modern advocates of wheat grass, is largely responsible for the belief that chlorophyll instills wheat grass with healing properties, according to the National Council Against Health Fraud.
Evidence of Benefits
Evidence supporting the role of chlorophyll and wheat grass in human health is limited, and it's uncertain how well the human body can absorb or metabolize this molecule. As the Linus Pauling Institute explains, chlorophyll and its derivative, chlorophyllin, may help destroy cancer cells, can accelerate wound healing by killing bacteria and may help prevent liver cancer in people exposed to carcinogens. However, studies showing beneficial effects of chlorophyll on disease typically administer chlorophyll directly onto cancer cells, rather than having subjects ingest chlorophyll orally. As a consequence, the results of these studies may not apply to chlorophyll consumed via wheat grass.
Things to Consider
Although the role of chlorophyll in human health is uncertain, wheat grass may still be a beneficial addition to your diet. Wheat grass contains a spectrum of vitamins and minerals, according to the American Cancer Society. It also contains amino acids that may help boost immunity and keep you healthy. In addition, wheat grass can count towards your daily recommended consumption of vegetables. If you have celiac disease or a wheat allergy, consult your physician before consuming wheat grass.