Wheatgrass: Fact And Myth

July 14, 2012 0 Comments

Sorting wheatgrass realities from fiction can be a difficult process. Starting with the initial investigation on the useful effects of wheatgrass on ailing chickens in the 1920s, claims for wheatgrass benefits for individuals have blossomed. Skeptics, too, have multiplied as swiftly as wheatgrass grows. In 2006, Brian Dunning wrote “Speptiod # 06,” which criticized many claims, concentrating on the absence of scientific research into the claims. In the ensuing years, that research has started to be published.

So what are the wheatgrass realities? In a nutshell, there’s a bit of truth in most of the claims–but few are “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.”

Claim: wheatgrass is a super food, unrivaled in vitamins and other nutrients.

Fact: wheatgrass is a lot like other green vegetables. Compare two ounces of wheatgrass juice to a large serving of broccoli or spinach and you find the protein of all three to be essentially identical. Wheatgrass has 4 times the vitamin E of broccoli and 1/3 more than spinach, but broccoli has 25 times as much vitamin C as wheatgrass and spinach has 8 times. Vitamin B12 is often touted as one of wheatgrass’ major components. Two ounces have 0.3 micrograms–admittedly more than spinach and broccoli, neither one of which have any, but this is still only 1/2 of 1% of the minimum daily requirement for B12. Wheatgrass does have significant, just not overwhelming, amounts of numerous important vitamins, minerals, and other micro-nutrients. It is good for you.

Claim: wheatgrass is 70% chlorophyll, and chlorophyll will cure cancer, digestive system diseases, and heavy metal poisoning.

Fact: In very small trials, all of those assertions have some truth, but wheatgrass is not “the cure” for any type of cancer, digestive system disease, or anemia. Some children with an inherited anemia were able to lengthen the time between blood transfusions when they drank 100 ml. of wheatgrass juice daily. Women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy needed fewer of the medications which help re-build blood components when they had a similar amount of daily wheatgrass. Similar amounts appear to ameliorate the extent of ulcerative colitis. Wheatgrass, additionally, showed no counter-indications in any of these situations (if you don’t consider its taste). So, wheatgrass is probably an aid to health with no major side effects for most people.

Claim: wheatgrass contains no gluten.

Fact: Wheatgrass that has been cut after the seed has been completely absorbed for plant growth usually has no gluten. Harvested prematurely, it can still have some of the gluten proteins which will be concentrated in juice. Probably a tiny amount–but if you have sensitivities, you may want to stay clear of it.

Claim: even mold on wheatgrass may be avoided in the juice. Fact: wheat grown indoors in closely packed trays is prone to having the ungerminated seeds mold in moist conditions. The obvious mold can be removed, and, of course, you don’t juice the unsprouted grain. However, mold reproduces by microscopic spores which might be on the grass blades. If your intolerance to mold is high, it might be good to stay away from wheatgrass juice.

To preserve the good things in wheatgrass, you will need to juice it correctly. Either a hand-cranked juicer or an electric single- or double-auger masticating juicer like the Omega 8006 juicer is needed. These slow-speed juicers press the juice out, instead of chopping it up and pushing it out a strainer as do the high-speed juicers. The cutting both bruises the blades and creates much higher oxidation–neither one of which safeguards the nutrients. Additionally, the high-speed juicers produce significant heat that further degrades the juice. Another caution: if you won’t be able to drink it immediately, keep it in the refrigerator in a container just the size of the juice so it can not further oxidize.

Miracle? No, but not a myth either. Wheatgrass benefits are a fact. Its juice–properly grown, harvested, juiced, and stored–is a healthy choice, and that is a fact.

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