Wheatgrass, the young grass of the wheat plant, has gained popularity with its diverse health benefits. You may also have heard about its rich content, which includes chlorophyll, flavonoids, vitamins C and E, and so on. But if you are wondering what exactly wheatgrass does on your body, you are in the right place. In this article, we will discuss its physiological effects with scientific studies.
You can consume wheatgrass in different forms, such as fresh juice, frozen juice, tablets, and powders. These variations mainly depend on the production processes and growing conditions of the wheatgrass. However, it is obvious that each form of wheatgrass is rich in nutrients.
1 oz (28.35 g) of wheatgrass juice contains:
- Proteins 860 mg
- Beta-carotene 120 IU
- Vitamin E 880 mcg
- Vitamin C 1 mg
- Vitamin B12 0.30 mcg
- Phosphorus 21 mg
- Magnesium 8 mg
- Calcium 7.2 mg
- Iron 0.66 mg
- Potassium 42mg
Health benefits of wheatgrass
There are hundreds of studies on the health effects of wheatgrass. Fortunately, a study summarizing all the medicinal uses of wheatgrass has been published. According to this review, wheatgrass consumption may be effective in treating many different diseases, from cancer to obesity and diabetes.
1. Anticancer effects
The most discussed health contribution of wheatgrass is its possible anticancer effects. In laboratory in vitro studies, wheatgrass has exhibited potential anticancer properties, with apoptosis identified as a possible mechanism. Apoptosis is a kind of planned cell that occurs if the cells are no longer beneficial for the body.
Researchers have seen similar results from animal experiments that wheatgrass treatment led to positive outcomes in terms of cancer prevention, acting as an adjunct to cancer treatment, and benefiting immunological activity and oxidative stress.
Then, they also wanted to see those effects in humans and set clinical trials. These investigations suggested that wheatgrass may offer synergistic advantages in combination with chemotherapy, potentially alleviating chemotherapy-related side effects.
However, there are some concerns though. Wheatgrass has also been shown to react against certain chemotherapy drugs and reduce their effects. Therefore, it is important to consult your doctor if you are using any medication.
2. Antioxidant properties
Wheatgrass contains chlorophyllin, which is a form of the chlorophyll molecule. Studies showed that chlorophyllin has a strong antioxidant activity by protecting the powerhouse of our cells, mitochondria from damage. It is known that the oxidative harmful molecules, also called free radicals, are produced during energy production in mitochondria. It is also rich in flavonoids such as apigenin, which also have antioxidant functions.
3. Protects from cardiovascular diseases
The flavonoids found in wheatgrass, such as apigenin, have the function of relieving vascular walls and helping with hypertension and related heart diseases.
Lowers blood lipids
Fresh wheatgrass juice was shown to reduce total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, also known as 'bad cholesterol,' very low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol, and triglycerides, which are lipids found in the blood in rats with high cholesterol disease.
In a study with individuals considered overweight and obese, wheatgrass juice consumption led to improved blood fat and cholesterol levels.
4. Improves immunity
Wheatgrass is a good source of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a great stimulator for our immune system. It fights against carcinogen metabolism, which shifts our cells to cancer cells. Besides, it also enhances collagen synthesis, which is very important for a young and healthy body.
Also, oligosaccharides, which are special carbohydrate forms that can stimulate and regulate the immune system, are found in wheatgrass.
5. Aids osteoporosis
The wheatgrass extract was administered for 30 days, together with the drugs, to rats with glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis. Serum levels of bone mineral content markers were increased, and serum and urinary levels of bone resorption markers decreased. It is a good result to show its contribution to bone health; however, it still needs to be shown in clinical studies.
6. Regulates blood sugar
When researchers examined the effects on glucose metabolism, they showed that wheatgrass restored blood glucose and insulin levels. There were changes in serum glucose oxidative enzyme levels and liver glycogen storage, which are also closely related to glucose metabolism. These results showed good proof that wheatgrass has the ability to regulate blood sugar and glucose metabolism. And it encourages scientists to do clinical studies.
Patients with diabetes consumed wheatgrass juices over six months, and their fasting blood sugar and blood sugar level after meals, which is post-prandial glucose level, were decreased. They had improved HbA1c levels, which show consistent regulated glucose metabolism for the last 3 months.
7. Aids hematological diseases
It is a very interesting result that when patients with beta-thalassemia consumed daily wheatgrass juices for one year, their blood transfusion requirement decreased by more than 25%.
In another study, researchers found that the mean hemoglobin level, which is the important protein found in red blood cells and supplies oxygen to our body, of the patients was increased, and the mean quantity of blood transfused decreased after one year of wheatgrass extract supplementation.
Considerations and health effects
Even though there are positive results on several health conditions, those studies have limitations such as sample size, diversity of patients, methodological differences, and so on. While there have been no reported adverse events associated with wheatgrass, certain forms may pose challenges in terms of tolerability. Yes, wheatgrass consumption is gaining popularity day by day, but it is crucial to know that wheatgrass forms may differ.
Health effects may be influenced by various factors, such as product availability, ease of swallowing, belief in the enhanced benefits of a fresh product, and motivation to participate in the cultivation of wheatgrass and the preparation of juice.
It is important to consult your doctor to avoid any possible harm or ineffectiveness in your treatment process.
Can wheatgrass help with weight loss?
Some studies suggest that wheatgrass consumption may have positive effects on blood fat and cholesterol levels, particularly in individuals considered overweight or obese. However, it's essential to approach weight management comprehensively, including a balanced diet and regular exercise.
How to consume wheatgrass in your daily routine?
The form of wheatgrass (juice, tablets, powders) and the recommended daily intake can vary. It's advisable to start with small amounts and monitor your body's response. Fresh juice may offer additional benefits due to its raw and unprocessed nature. However, individual preferences, tolerances, and lifestyle factors play a role.
Does wheatgrass consumption have adverse effects?
Wheatgrass may interact with certain medications, especially chemotherapy drugs. It's essential to consult your healthcare provider about any supplements, including wheatgrass, that you are taking.
Wheatgrass, the young grass of the wheat plant, is rich in nutrients, including protein, beta-carotene, vitamins E and C, vitamin B12, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, iron, and potassium.
Wheatgrass contains chlorophyllin and flavonoids with strong antioxidant activities, protecting cells from damage. Its antioxidant property is the main reason that wheatgrass has an effective role in many different diseases.
Health effects may vary based on factors like product availability, ease of swallowing, and the belief in the benefits of a fresh product.
- Mini-Reviews in Medicinal Chemistry. The medical use of wheatgrass: review of the gap between basic and clinical applications.
- Journal of Food Science. Nutritional quality and antioxidant activity of wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum) unwrap by proteome profiling and DPPH and FRAP assays.
- Molecules. Enhancing health benefits through chlorophylls and chlorophyll-rich agro-food: a comprehensive review.