It started as a fad in the early 2000s. Walking through a shopping mall at 10 a.m., you’d start to notice person after person throwing back these shots. Did you miss the memo to a new kind of party? But this wasn’t vodka. It was a bright green liquid with zero alcohol. Believe it or not, they were shooting, well, grass! Wheatgrass, to be specific.
But why? What led to its popularity? Well, for starters, wheatgrass has great potential health benefits, of which there are many. But first…
What is Wheatgrass?
It is the very literal name for the young grass of the common wheat plant, or Triticum aestivum. It’s also the same grass that’s often used for making hay, but it’s picked very early – usually only a week after sprouting.
Though it’s been studied since the 1930s, wheatgrass juice became popular only recently because of its alleged health benefits.1
Why shots? It’s awfully tough to get a lot of liquid from pressing a whole bunch of wheatgrass. So, it was quickly marketed as a juice shot.
The upside – it packs a punch of nutrients into a single one-ounce serving.
The downside – well, it tastes like grass.
But the taste hasn’t deterred those who swear by wheatgrass as a nutritional supplement – whether freshly juiced, or in powder form. And, because of its small size, wheatgrass can easily be grown at home.
So, what makes this grass so great? Let’s take a look…
1. It’s Packed With Vitamins, Minerals, and Antioxidants
Just one shot of wheatgrass contains:
- Vitamins A, C, and E
- Minerals, including iron, magnesium, and calcium
- Amino Acids (which build muscle and repair tissue among many other functions)2
The nutritional boost is significant. Being that vitamins C and E are also antioxidants, there’s an added bonus.
Antioxidants can help your body fight free radicals that can cause cell damage and increase the visible signs of aging – like wrinkles and fine lines.3
Antioxidants have been studied a great deal. Many studies have found they may help protect you against cardiovascular conditions, joint issues, cognitive decline, and ailments of the lungs and kidneys.4
2. It Contains Chlorophyll
Perhaps the number one selling point for wheatgrass benefits is that it’s chock full of chlorophyll – the same substance that makes your veggies green. You may also remember this green plant pigment from science class. It’s essential for photosynthesis, the process by which plants absorb energy from light.5 Without chlorophyll, plants wouldn’t grow, and we’d starve.
Wheatgrass is 70 percent chlorophyll, which some researchers say is almost chemically identical to the hemoglobin in your blood. And chlorophyll also has amazing health benefits, such as easing fatigue, soothing digestion, improving sleep, supporting healthy skin, and helping your body rid itself of toxins.6
3. It May Help Gastrointestinal Conditions
In traditional medicine, wheatgrass was often used to treat stomach ailments. Today, scientific research backs up this idea. In one particular study, patients saw a significant reduction in digestive discomfort when taking a wheatgrass supplement (100ml daily).7
And, though it’s effectively “grass of the wheat,” it is actually gluten-free. This means those with gluten sensitivities or conditions can enjoy it if they’re looking to add more nutrients to their diet.8
4. It Could Help Promote Weight Loss
Can wheatgrass actually help you lose weight? There are a few positive findings that connect it to weight loss.
Wheatgrass juice contains thylakoids, tiny sacs found in plants that contain chlorophyll. This is where the photosynthesis party goes down.9
And studies have found that these thylakoids may actually help you feel more full after you eat. In one study, a high-carb meal was given to 20 moderately overweight females, both with and without, the presence of thylakoids. Those who consumed the thylakoids reported greater feelings of satiety.10
And, as you know, feeling full can help prevent you from overeating and packing on the pounds.
5. It May Help Boost Oral Health
As more pathogens become drug-resistant, researchers are looking for new ways to fight infections. Could wheatgrass be one of them? In one study, the powder form exhibited antimicrobial properties against Streptococcus mutans and certain types of Lactobacillus, both of which can play a role in dental decay and the infections that could result.11
The Grass Is Always Greener…
Perhaps the greatest problem with analyzing “wheatgrass benefits” is the vast majority of studies have been done on either animal subjects, or performed in test tubes. More research on humans is needed to learn how it can benefit you.
If you’re interested in taking up a wheatgrass habit, you now have plenty more options than juice. It comes in powdered and capsule form, too. And, if you struggle with that taste, try mixing it into a nutritious smoothie for a big boost of vitamins!
For more health wisdom from Eastern philosophies, keep reading here:
The Strange Mystery and Benefits of Kefir
10 Self-Care Rituals For A Healthier Body And Mind
Raw Water – Is it Worth the Money and Is it Better Water?