Imagine a shot that's loaded with nutrients and won't leave you hungover. Nope, it's not a new type of liquor; it's wheatgrass.
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Whether you've enjoyed them yourself or spotted photos of the healthy green drink on social media, wheatgrass shots are here to stay. But you may be wondering if the buzzy beverage is actually gluten-free. After all, it's made of wheat, isn't it?
Does Wheatgrass Have Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley and these grains' derivatives.
Many foods, like quinoa, corn or farro, are clear-cut — they either contain gluten or they don't. But when it comes to wheatgrass, the answer is a little more complicated.
Wheatgrass and wheat grains are not the same thing. While the wheat grains contain gluten, pure wheatgrass is naturally gluten-free, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. The same goes for barley grass.
Why Wheatgrass' Harvest Timing Matters
Wheatgrass has a 10-day harvesting window during which the gluten-containing seeds can't reach the harvesting machines, according to a March 2017 Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry study.
When harvested at the right time — within that 10-day window — the seeds can't get into the wheatgrass and contaminate it with gluten. But, if the wheatgrass is harvested too late, it might contain gluten, which would deem it unsafe on a GF diet.
How to Buy Gluten-Free Wheatgrass
Often found in your pricey juice shop, wheatgrass is a nutrient-rich young grass that provides iron, calcium, magnesium and vitamins A, C and E, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Unfortunately, if you're buying your wheatgrass from a local juice shop, it can be difficult to know whether your beverage is safe to drink. If you're buying juice from a certified gluten-free store or can confirm with an employee that the wheatgrass is gluten-free, then it's probably safe to sip.
You can use this tool, provided by the National Celiac Association, to search for certified gluten-free restaurants in your area.
If you're buying your wheatgrass prepared or in powder form, though, search for a gluten-free label on the packaging, recommends the National Celiac Association. This label is regulated by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and guarantees that the food contains less than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten, which is a safe amount for people with celiac disease to eat.
You can also purchase products that are certified gluten-free by a trusted third-party organization such as the Gluten-Free Certification Organization (GFCO), which tests and verifies gluten-free foods with more stringent standards. The GFCO seal is found only on foods that contain less than 10 ppm of gluten.
If you're buying wheatgrass products in a juice store, search for a restaurant that's certified gluten-free. If you're purchasing packaged wheatgrass (or wheatgrass juice), choose products with a gluten-free label on the packaging.
Gluten-Free Wheatgrass Products
Though wheatgrass shots are a popular option, there are other ways you can get your wheatgrass fix — and stay gluten-free. Try these gluten-free products from trusted brands.
Buy it: Thrivemarket.com; Price: $12.99
2. Amazing Grass Wheat Grass Powder
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $20.80 for 15 servings
3. Dr. Wheatgrass Supershots
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $34.99
4. Pines Organic Wheat Grass, 500 Count Tablets
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $24.94