Wading your way through the sea of constant "super food" fads is difficult on its own, especially with so many foods having purported health benefits. Understandably, it is challenging to know which foods really live up to their hype. Wheatgrass, often consumed as a juice shot, does have health benefits. Enjoy a shot at your local juice bar, or invest in a wheatgrass juicer and drink it at home.
Wheatgrass is an edible grass that proponents claim is beneficial for a number of conditions, including diabetes, bronchitis, skin disorders, high cholesterol and inflammatory bowel disease. Research to support these claims is largely lacking, but potential benefits to consuming wheatgrass shots exist. A special juicer is required to extract juice from wheatgrass, but it is a good investment if you consume it regularly. Wheatgrass is by no means a magic bullet to instant good health; follow a well-balanced diet and engage in physical activity to support overall good health.
The good news is that women under 40 tend to have lower cholesterol levels than men under 40. Still, managing your cholesterol now helps support heart health as you get older. Wheatgrass juice appears to have cholesterol-lowering benefits, according to a study published in the October 2008 issue of the "Indian Journal of Pharmacology." In the study, wheatgrass juice significantly lowered total cholesterol and triglyceride levels in normal rats. Human studies are still needed.
Wheatgrass is nutrient dense and highly concentrated with antioxidant-rich flavonoids, more so than most vegetables. The antioxidant benefits are one of the primary benefits of consuming wheatgrass shots. Free radicals place the body under oxidative stress, which is associated with chronic disease and aging. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage your cells and DNA. Flavonoids protect your body and immune system against free-radical damage. This is one reason wheatgrass shots are recommended for immune boosting.
Wheatgrass is purported to help individuals with inflammatory bowel diseases such as ulcerative colitis, which tends to hit its initial peak in individuals between the ages of 20 and 30. It can cause stomach cramping and digestive problems that make it difficult to enjoy food. In a double-blind study, participants with ulcerative colitis consumed 3 ounces of wheatgrass juice daily for a month. Researchers found that wheatgrass juice significantly reduced overall disease activity. The results were published in the April 2002 issue of the "Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology."
- Indian Journal of Pharmacology: Effect of Fresh Triticum Aestivum Grass Juice on Lipid Profile of Normal Rats
- Linus Pauling Institute: Antioxidant Activities of Flavonoids
- Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology: Wheat Grass Juice in the Treatment of Active Distal Ulcerative Colitis: a Randomized Double-blind Placebo-controlled Trial
Janet Renee is a clinical dietitian with a special interest in weight management, sports dietetics, medical nutrition therapy and diet trends. She earned her Master of Science in nutrition from the University of Chicago and has contributed to health and wellness magazines, including Prevention, Self, Shape and Cooking Light.