Wheatgrass: 14 Potential Health Benefits, Nutrition, And Side Effects

Reviewed By Registered Dietitian Nutritionist Temple Stewart, RD, LDN
by Sindhu Koganti
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Wheatgrass is also known as green blood. It is prepared from freshly sprouted leaves of the wheat plant (Triticum aestivum). It is considered a superfood with its rich nutritional profile.

Wheatgrass is usually consumed as juice but is also available as capsules, powder, and pills. It can be used as an everyday health tonic. Wheatgrass is said to possess antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties. The juice may help reduce cholesterol levels, minimize the risk of cancer, treat diabetes, alleviate inflammation, and aid weight loss.

This article discusses the health benefits, nutrition facts, and potential side effects of wheatgrass. We also have included a few tips for the use and consumption of wheatgrass. Scroll down to get started.

Benefits Of Wheatgrass

1. May Reduce Cholesterol Levels

Some studies have found that wheatgrass may reduce cholesterol levels in the body. In animal studies, rabbits with high cholesterol levels were given a wheatgrass diet. The antioxidant effect of wheatgrass could help reduce their cholesterol levels (1).

Another study done on rats found that fresh wheatgrass juice could show a hypolipidemic effect (cholesterol-reducing) (2).

However, more studies are needed in this regard.

2. May Minimize Risk Of Cancer

Wheatgrass is said to possess anticancer properties that may help fight against cancer cells (3). Cancer cells thrive in a low oxygen environment. Wheatgrass supplies high oxygen to all the body tissues, and this may help in combating cancer (4).

Wheatgrass was also found to exhibit cytotoxic and anti-proliferation activities (5). Another study conducted on 60 patients with breast cancer found that wheatgrass juice could help reduce the risk of blood toxicity due to chemotherapy (6). However, more studies in this line are needed to reach further conclusions.

3. May Help Treat Diabetes

Wheatgrass may help control blood sugar levels. A study on type 2 diabetes rats found that the glucose oxidative enzymes in wheatgrass could help decrease blood glucose levels (7).

In another study, treating diabetic rats with ethanolic extracts of wheatgrass for 30 days resulted in reduced levels of blood glucose levels (8).

However, more studies are required to understand this benefit of wheatgrass in humans.

4. May Alleviate Inflammation

Wheatgrass may help alleviate chronic inflammation. A study found that wheatgrass juice may help treat inflammatory gastrointestinal conditions (9).

Wheatgrass is rich in chlorophyll. Research shows that chlorophyll possesses anti-inflammatory properties (10). Another study found that chlorophyll-related compounds may inhibit inflammation in human aortic cells (11).

5. May Aid Weight Loss

Consumption of wheatgrass may promote weight loss due to the presence of thylakoids. A study conducted on rodents found that thylakoids can slow down gastric emptying. Adding them to a high carbohydrate meal can also suppress hunger. These factors may help reduce body weight (12).

Another study also states that thylakoids suppress appetite by increasing levels of cholecystokinin (a hormone that stimulates the release of bile). This could result in lower food intake (13).

Thylakoids also affect other appetite hormones like ghrelin, which may increase the feeling of fullness (14).

6. May Improve Digestive Health

Intake of wheatgrass may improve digestive health. Wheatgrass contains many digestive enzymes that promote digestion (15). The juice also increases bowel movements (16).

Some anecdotal evidence suggests that wheatgrass may clean intestines and also reduce issues like bloating, gas, and abdominal discomfort. However, more studies in this line are needed to support this claim.

7. May Boost Metabolism

Wheatgrass intake may help boost metabolism and body weight (3). Some anecdotal evidence suggests that wheatgrass powder may help control body weight by stimulating the thyroid gland. This may improve metabolism and prevent indigestion. However, very limited research is available to support this claim.

8. May Improve Immunity

Studies suggest that wheatgrass may improve immune health. It helps increase the red blood cell (RBC) and white blood cell (WBC) counts. It also has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties that may help boost immunity (8).

However, more studies in this line are needed to reach further conclusions.

9. May Lower Blood Pressure

Some anecdotal evidence suggests that wheatgrass may lower blood pressure. The chlorophyll in wheatgrass may increase blood cell production. This may help regulate blood pressure. However, limited research is available to support this point.

10. May Improve Cognitive Function

The neuroprotective effects of wheatgrass may promote cognitive function in individuals with chronic fatigue syndrome (17).
A study conducted by the Daegu Haany University, Korea, found that wheatgrass may help prevent memory impairment (18).

11. May Treat Arthritis

Wheatgrass may treat rheumatoid arthritis (3), (8). The anti-inflammatory properties of wheatgrass may play a role in this regard (17).

However, more research is needed to reach further conclusions.

12. May Boost Energy Levels

The proteins in wheatgrass may prevent disease and improve the process of energy-related mechanisms in the body (19).

A weakened immune system makes you feel tired. The chlorophyll content in wheatgrass has antibacterial properties that may fight against many infections. This could boost your immune system and potentially promote energy levels. However, there is no direct research to prove this claim yet.

13. May Treat Kidney Issues

Research is limited in this area. Some anecdotal evidence suggests that intake of wheatgrass powder may help fight against kidney problems.

Consuming wheatgrass powder regularly has shown to relieve the subsequent symptoms of kidney cysts (like severe back pain and abdominal pain). Wheatgrass also may help slow down the growth rate of cysts.

14. May Improve Skin Health

The vitamin A in wheatgrass enhances skin luster and offers a natural glow. In rat studies, wheatgrass could treat atopic dermatitis-like skin lesions (20).

Drinking wheatgrass juice may help fight skin issues like psoriasis and eczema. However, limited research is available in this regard.

These are the benefits of wheatgrass. In the following section, we have extensively covered its nutritional profile.

What Is The Nutritional Value Of Wheatgrass?

Wheatgrass is an excellent source of several vitamins and minerals. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 100 g of wheatgrass powder consists of (21):

  • Energy – 312 kcal
  • Protein – 12.5 g
  • Carbohydrate – 75 g
  • Total Dietary Fiber – 50 g
  • Calcium – 300 mg
  • Iron – 12.5 mg

Wheatgrass is a good source of protein, antioxidants, bioflavonoids, and amino acids. Wheatgrass consists of 17 different amino acids, and 8 of those are essential to humans (our body cannot produce them) (22). It also contains a type of green pigment, known as chlorophyll, which has many health benefits (23).

Also, wheatgrass possesses antioxidant properties that may help reduce oxidative damage to cells (24).

Though wheatgrass is generally safe for consumption, it does have a few side effects that you need to keep in mind. Check them out in the following section.

What Are The Side Effects Of Wheatgrass?

Though it is usually considered safe, there have been cases of adverse effects following its consumption. Since it is grown within the soil and consumed raw, wheatgrass also has an increased risk of contamination. The common adverse effects of wheatgrass include headache, nausea, and allergies.

1. May Cause Headache

Excess intake of wheatgrass juice may lead to headache (25). Hypersensitive individuals may experience throat swelling too (26). Some believe the headache could also be a sign of your body’s general intolerance to the juice.

Taking the juice in lesser quantities could reduce the risk of headaches. The methanol extract of the juice was found to be safe at a dose level of 2000 mg per kg of body weight (27).

Wheatgrass contamination is said to be often caused by an organism called Listeria monocytogenes. This organism can cause serious side effects, and one of them is a severe headache (28).

2. May Cause Nausea

Some believe wheatgrass contains gluten. It could cause adverse symptoms, including nausea, in people who are gluten-intolerant (29). However, a research paper concludes that wheatgrass contains no gluten (30). Hence, more research is required to understand this particular side effect of wheatgrass.

3. May Cause Allergies

Some individuals could be allergic to wheatgrass, especially when they consume it in a pill or juice form. If you are allergic to wheat products, it is recommended you stay away from wheatgrass as well (31).

The symptoms of wheatgrass allergy are yet to be studied. As per anecdotal evidence, an allergy may cause nausea, cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea. Your skin may get inflamed and break out into hives. Other allergic reactions may include shortness of breath and congestion.

As previously discussed, wheatgrass does not contain gluten. This is because it is made out of the stem and leaves, whereas gluten is found in the kernel of the seed. But if one of the seeds is accidentally included, it could get contaminated with gluten. Hence, individuals with gluten intolerance are recommended to exercise caution while taking wheatgrass. Read the ingredient labels before purchasing any product.

Some benefits of wheatgrass are yet to be studied. However, you may go ahead and include wheatgrass in your diet. But before you do so, it is important to take some precautions.

Precautions To Be Taken

  • Wheatgrass juice is usually concentrated. Hence, take it in less quantities or in combination with other vegetable juices (to mask its strong taste).
  • If your wheatgrass juice tastes bitter, it is most likely to be moldy. Stop drinking and discard it immediately.
  • To avoid contamination, you can sterilize the trays in which wheatgrass grows (if you are growing it at your home).
  • Store your wheatgrass powder supplement as per the instructions on the pack.

Tips For Use And Consumption

You can enhance the taste of wheatgrass by adding other flavoring agents. Wheatgrass is available in different forms like powder, smoothie or juice, and pills. Generally, adding an ingredient that has a strong taste may make it more palatable.

You can add honey, milk, or any fruit juice to raw wheatgrass for better taste.

Of all the forms, the capsule form of wheatgrass is less grassy in taste. However, flavored capsules are also available in the market.

Wheatgrass products are available at health food stores. You can purchase them online too!

  • Sustainably US Grown, Organic Wheat Grass Powder by Micro Ingredients – Buy it here!
  • WOW, Frozen Wheatgrass Juice – Buy it here!
  • 5 Grass Juice Blend by Triquetra Health – Buy it here!
  • Organic Wheatgrass Juice Powder Capsules by Sproutman – Buy it here!

You can also prepare your own wheatgrass juice right in the comfort of your home.

How Do You Make Wheatgrass Juice?

Wheatgrass juice is most beneficial after juicing. While it can be made in larger quantities and refrigerated or frozen, it is optimal to juice it in single batches. Try having it daily to reap its wonderful benefits.

  1. Wash approximately ¼ cup of wheatgrass per single shot of juice.
  2. Roughly chop the grass into smaller pieces.
  3. Measure the grass to ensure ¼ cup of grass per serving.
  4. Add honey or any other fruit juice for taste.

How Do You Make Wheatgrass Powder?

Making wheatgrass powder at home is simple. Follow the below procedure:

  1. Harvest/cut wheatgrass by trimming it at 1/2 an inch above the soil.
  2. Place your wheatgrass on a baking sheet to dry it out at 120o -150o F for about an hour. It must feel dry/brittle to the touch.
  3. Grind your dry wheatgrass in a coffee grinder until it turns to powder.
  4. Store your wheatgrass powder in the container(s) of your choice.

Conclusion

Wheatgrass is rich in nutrients with several health benefits. It is said to possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties that may help treat many ailments. Intake of wheatgrass may reduce cholesterol levels, decrease the risk of cancer, treat diabetes, and fight inflammation.

However, limited research is available in humans. Consumption of wheatgrass is generally considered safe. But it may cause side effects in certain cases. Hence, limit the intake of wheatgrass and consult a healthcare provider in case of any emergency.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What is the best time to take wheatgrass?

We recommend you to take wheatgrass on an empty stomach as it will be easily absorbed into the blood (in 20 minutes). Though certain sources say this is the only way to take it, there is no proper evidence. Consult your doctor.

Can wheatgrass reverse gray hair?

Anecdotal evidence suggests that intake of wheatgrass on a daily basis may reverse gray hair. However, there is no evidence to prove this claim.

Can wheatgrass replace vegetables?

No, wheatgrass cannot replace vegetables. It may not contain some nutrients present in other veggies.

31 sources

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Sindhu Koganti

Sindhu Koganti is a Biotechnology graduate and has been in the writing field for over 4 years now. She specializes in writing on Health and Wellness. She has hands-on experience in writing articles and press releases on Life Sciences and Healthcare, Food and Beverages, and Chemicals and Materials. When she’s not writing, she loves watching movies and listening to music. She also enjoys traveling.
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