WHEATGRASS FOR HEALTH
What is wheatgrass?
As its name suggests, wheatgrass is a variety of grass, much like barley, oats and rye grass. It sprouts from wheat berries and is then harvested and either squeezed and juiced while fresh, or dehydrated and ground into supplemental powders or used in capsules.
In its whole plant form, wheatgrass is a raw, living food - “raw” because it is natural, fresh, unprocessed and uncooked and “living” because it still has its enzymes intact (undestroyed by heat, wilting, storage or any other damage). Fortunately, many of these benefits can be preserved and accessed in supplement form.
In the natural health world, wheatgrass is widely thought of as one of nature's most powerful "superfoods". This is in no small part due to the fact that, at its nutritional peak, it is a rich source of a broad spectrum of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes and chlorophyll.
Enzymes in wheatgrass
Wheatgrass contains around 30 different enzymes. The significance of the presence of plant enzymes is that they can support a number of processes in the body, including the digestion and metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats.
Chlorophyll in wheatgrass
When grown in proper conditions, wheatgrass is actually around 70% crude chlorophyll - a potent phyto-chemical and plant pigment and itself considered one of nature's supreme raw foods.
Chlorophyll is formed in plants in the presence of sunlight through the process of photosynthesis. This enables the plant to convert the minerals from the soil into a form that can be used by our bodies and is why wheatgrass is often referred to as “liquid sunshine”.
As a valuable nutrient, the extraordinarily high chlorophyll content is one of the main reasons for wheatgrass's notoriety as a health food and goes to the heart of the potential nutritive power of raw plants.
For instance, it has powerful antioxidant properties and a typical nutritional analysis includes the following: vitamin A, all the B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, iron, phosphate, boron, copper, molybdenum, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, chromium, manganese, phosphorous, silicon, zinc and other nutrients!
Interestingly, the chlorophyll molecule also closely resembles the 'haem' part of the haemoglobin of blood. While the relationship between blood and chlorophyll is not entirely clear, the Japanese food scientist Dr Yoshide Hagiwara suggested that it can be absorbed into the blood because it is fat-soluble. Fat particles go directly into the blood via the lymphatic system.
These (and many other) characteristics make it ideal for offering support for, for example, the body's natural cleansing and detoxification processes, as well as for immunity, healing and nourishment.
Protein in wheatgrass
Its strong nutritional profile makes wheatgrass a popular ingredient in “green” juices and smoothies, whether used in its original plant form or as a powder. Similarly, it can be taken as a convenient daily supplement, either in powder or capsule form.
It is, of course, popular with the health-conscious, but also particularly so with athletes and others with high demands on their energy. This is because of the perhaps surprisingly high protein content.
Wheatgrass is a high quality source of complete, lean protein – in other words, a protein that contains all of the essential amino acids required by the body; something which is relatively rare in plant based foods. This is of particular interest to vegetarians, vegans, slimmers, athletes and anyone else seeking to avoid traditional protein sources such as meat and dairy, which are high in saturated fat and are acid-forming in the body.
Incorporate wheatgrass into your daily diet!
Wheatgrass is considered to be a complete food in itself, because of its exceptional levels and balance of nutrients. For instance, just one pound of fresh wheatgrass is equivalent in nutritional value to 23 pounds of choice garden vegetables!
As such, if you are looking to support your all-round health and well-being, you may want to consider incorporating wheatgrass into your daily diet.
You can, of course, grow and juice fresh wheatgrass at home, but if this seems like too much of a hassle, a wheatgrass supplement is probably your best option.
As we've already mentioned, wheatgrass can be freeze-dried or dehydrated to make powder, either to be used loose or in capsule form. If you do opt for a wheatgrass supplement, check the label to ensure that you are getting a quality product.
For example, it should ideally be organic – what's the point of actively seeking out quality nutrients, only to ingest harmful pesticides! For maximum nutritional benefit, also ensure that you are getting raw wheatgrass, rather than wheatgrass that has been heated during processing.
If you go for a wheatgrass powder, there are a number of great and tasty ways that you can use it. For example, it can be:
mixed with water (quick, simple and you get to enjoy that distinctive grassy taste!)
added to your fresh juice and smoothie as a potent nutritional 'booster' (ideal for those less of a fan of the grassy taste!)
mixed into soups or stews
or sprinkled over salads.