Wheat grass is publicized as a super food that prevents cancer, builds red blood cells and improves heart function. Advocates also claim that wheat grass contains significantly more nutrients than other vegetables. Although it is a nutritious plant, its health benefits and nutritional prowess have been overstated, according to the British Dietetic Association. Overestimating the health effects of wheat grass can do more harm than good, if you reduce your intake of other nutritious vegetables.
It is claimed that the nutrients in a shot glass of freshly blended wheat grass equates 1 kilogram of other vegetables; however, no evidence exists to support these claims. In fact, wheat grass contains the same nutrients as commonly consumed vegetables such as spinach or broccoli, according to the British National Health Service. Studies on wheat grass have proven that it can help improve red blood cell count, reduce colon inflammation and treat blood disorders. Although the results of these studies were positive, they were small studies, and further research is required.
Wheat Grass Nutrients
Wheat grass is a good source of vitamins A, C and E. It is also rich in minerals, such as iron, calcium and magnesium. Like other green plants, wheat grass contains chlorophyll, which is used in plants to create glucose from light. Chlorophyll’s antioxidant properties may benefit you by helping to reduce damage from carcinogens -- such as tobacco smoke -- helping prevent liver cancer and fighting colon cancer, according to Columbia Health. Dietary sources of chlorophyll, such as wheat grass, may have side effects, which may include diarrhea and discoloration of the tongue, urine or feces.
Consuming Wheat Grass
Wheat grass comes in many forms. It is often juiced because the leaves can be difficult to digest; it may also come in the form of capsules, powder and liquid extract. Due to its pungent grassy taste, some people may experience nausea when drinking wheat grass, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Wheat grass is considered safe to consume, although bacteria, yeast, fungi or a virus may accidentally be introduced to the product during harvesting, which may cause stomach-related ailments upon ingestion.
The Bottom Line
Wheat grass can be good for you if you maintain realistic expectations. Consuming wheat grass may lead to nutritional deficiencies, if you forgo other fruits and vegetables from your diet. Wheat grass is not more nutritious than other vegetables; therefore, eat a variety of vegetables -- which may include wheat grass -- and fruits to get your recommended five-a-day. You can add wheat grass into fruit and vegetables smoothies. Get your wheat grass from a reputable health store or grow your own.
- National Health Service: Wheatgrass: Detox Tonic or Just Juice?
- Columbia Health: Getting Your Fill of Chlorophyll
- Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center: Wheat Grass
- Indian Pediatrics: Wheat Grass Juice Reduces Transfusion Requirement In Patients With Thalassemia Major: A Pilot Study.
- Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology: Wheat Grass Juice in the Treatment of Active Distal Ulcerative Colitis: A Randomized Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Trial