Wheat Grass Benefits

What if you can have the power of the sun in the palm of your hands?  Not the hydrogen-helium kind, but something more earthbound:  chlorophyll.

Dubbed as “potent sunlight energy,” wheatgrass is the young of the mature wheat plant, Triticum aestivum, whose grains we convert to bread.  Wheat grass is best harvested in its lifecycle when it is most nutritionally dense, at about 8 inches tall, a week or two after it is planted, and just before the wheat plant blooms into a growth spurt.  The grass in this stage is soft enough for juicing – very convenient to prepare, which is part of its huge appeal as a “vegetable” grown in any range of condition.

Wheat grass contains up to 70% chlorophyll, the plant pigment that gives it its green color.  This means that drinking even only a small dose of wheatgrass juice is already equivalent to eating vegetables several times over.  A freshly squeezed wheat grass juice of about 30 ml is equivalent to consuming 1 kilogram of green leafy vegetables; one teaspoon of wheat grass powder weighing 3.5 grams is nutritionally equivalent to a spinach salad weighing 50 grams.

For children who are hard to feed anything, let alone vegetables, wheatgrass can be easily sneaked into their daily diet.  Wheat grass juice can be taken “straight up,” or it can be blended into a smoothie to neutralize its taste.

Certainly, wheatgrass is not the best-tasting, or best-looking, of all beverages:  its juice looks like what you get when you put your lawn trimmings in a blender.  But for all its unappetizing appearance, wheatgrass makes up for it with a long list of health benefits.

The chlorophyll molecule in wheatgrass is closely similar in chemical structure to human hemoglobin, except that the central component of chlorophyll is magnesium, whereas hemoglobin’s is iron.  This has promising ramifications in patients whose red blood cell count is low; for example, in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Even without extensive scientific research, a preliminary study of 60 women who suffered from breast cancer experienced reduced harmful effects of chemotherapy.  Chemotherapy tends to affect the patients’ red blood cell production in bone marrow, an unpleasant side effect which results to weakness, general fatigue, and decreased appetite.  The patients in the study drank 60 milliliters of wheatgrass juice daily during chemotherapy, and none have reported the usual inconveniences of the procedure.  Even better, drinking wheatgrass juice did not alter the effectiveness of the chemotherapy treatment.

Further, hemoglobin delivers oxygen and other nutrients at the cellular level.  This means metals and other toxins are removed from the blood that results to cleaner lymphatic system and stronger immunity.  This also means that cells have rejuvenating ingredients at their disposal:  Cytochrome Oxidase found in wheat grass is a powerful anti-oxidant.  No wonder, wheatgrass is popular for its anti-aging effects.

Although not definitive, the study conducted on a handful of patients found that wheatgrass eases the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, or inflammation of colon. This could be attributed to the fact that wheatgrass is high in fiber:  colon problems typically arise due to lack of sufficient dietary fiber.

Wheatgrass is packed with vitamin A, twice as much as carrots.  This means improved eyesight and clearer night vision.  It is also chock-full of vitamin C – better than oranges – to fight off infection and eliminate free radicals.  It may not look like it, but wheatgrass contains high levels of amino acids.  Amino acids are building blocks of protein, which is essential to cell growth and regeneration.  This is why wheatgrass juice is often the staple of body builders and fitness enthusiasts.

For weight watchers, wheatgrass contains lipase, or fat splitting enzyme.  Anecdotal reports suggest that regular consumption of wheatgrass juice results to gradual fat loss.  It could also be attributed to the fact that wheatgrass is high up in the fiber alley.  Fiber takes time to be fully digested, so snacking between meals is minimized.  It may not taste as appetizing as a stick of celery or zucchini, but once you slip into looser-fitting pants, putting up with the taste is all worth it.