Juicing Wheatgrass: Benefits and Risks

Juicing wheatgrass is a bit more complex than juicing other fruits and vegetables. The ideal way to juice wheatgrass is by using a masticating juicer, as this helps extract the most nutrients.

The benefits of juicing wheatgrass come from its high level of chlorophyll, along with other vitamins and minerals. It is also crucial that wheatgrass is fresh, as the nutrients in the plant break down quickly.

 

Making wheatgrass juice

When first starting out, juicing wheatgrass can seem to be a difficult experience. The grass does not have much bulk to it, making it difficult to extract juice from using a centrifugal juicer. 

Similarly, adding wheatgrass to a blender to extract the juice is inefficient, as it does not break down the plant matter, and what’s left will be a leafy juice full of pulp.

The best way to make wheatgrass juice is by juicing wheatgrass in a masticating juicer. Masticating juicers use slow force to break down the plant matter and extract the vital nutrients in wheatgrass. 

Importantly, these juicers do not create much heat compared to other juicers such as centrifugal juicers. This is crucial, as heat breaks down some of the delicate antioxidants in the plant.

Additionally, the fast, chopping action of blenders, centrifugal juicers, and food processors adds oxygen to the plant matter, which oxidizes the chlorophyll in the plant, making it less potent.

When harvesting and extracting wheatgrass, keep a few tips in mind:

  • Harvest when the wheatgrass is between 4-6 inches
  • Harvest about 1/4 cup of grass per shot of juice
  • Wash the wheatgrass before passing it through the extractor
  • Enjoy the juice as fresh as possible

 

Benefits of wheatgrass

There is a reason wheatgrass is a superfood. The simple grass is packed with nutrients, minerals, and antioxidants, making it an ideal supplement for most people.

 

Nutrient profile

Fresh wheatgrass does not contain much when it comes to the basic compounds of foods, and has very little calories, carbohydrates, fibers, and proteins.

What it does contain is a variety of healthy compounds for the body. A study posted to Journal of Pharmacy & BioAllied Sciences notes that wheatgrass juice is rich in:

  • Iron
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Chlorophyll
  • Antioxidants called bioflavonoids
  • Calcium
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorous
  • Manganese 
  • Zinc 
  • Copper
  • amino acids

Importantly, 8 of the 17 amino acids in wheatgrass are essential, meaning the body cannot make them and they must come from the diet.

The exact amounts of these compounds will vary based on the freshness of the juice and the quality of the grass itself.

 

Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

The main benefits of juicing wheatgrass come from its potent free-radical scavenging activity, thansk to antioxidants and compounds such as chlorophyll, which help to remove toxins from the body and reduce cellular damage and oxidative stress.

Because of the potential antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect of wheatgrass in the body, it may have a use for a number of chronic conditions. A study posted to Mini Reviews in Medical Chemistry notes it may have use in many conditions where stress or inflammation play a key role, such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Blood disorders
  • Cancer therapy

Other possible benefits of juicing wheatgrass include:

  • Reducing cholesterol
  • Improving the immune system
  • Promoting gut health
  • Helping a person feel energized
  • Improving brain function

The benefits of juicing wheatgrass are highest when enjoying it fresh, ideally just after juicing.

 

Detoxing

Wheatgrass also helps clean toxins from the body thanks to these similar antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. 

For example, a study posted to Mutation Research found that wheatgrass helped detox the body from harmful chemicals such as bisphenol-A, found in many plastics.

With this said, wheatgrass is not a replacement for a healthy diet and lifestyle but may help supplement these healthy habits.

 

Risks of wheatgrass

There are some risks to be aware of when juicing wheatgrass, mainly to do with reactions and interactions of other substances.

 

Contamination

Wheatgrass is a raw plant and eaten directly. Because of this it is important to get wheatgrass from a  trusted grower, or to ideally grow your own. This can help ensure the grass has no contamination from pesticides, bacteria & mold, or other harmful substances.

 

Reaction

Some people may have difficulty digesting wheatgrass at first. This can cause a reaction in their body leading to a few symptoms, such as:

  • Upset stomach
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Fever
  • Headache

To avoid this, many people will start gradually, drinking a very small amount of wheatgrass juice at first, and then building up to a regular shot.

In any case, symptoms typically fade as the person gets used to digesting wheatgrass.

Some people should avoid wheatgrass altogether. Anyone who notices signs of an allergic reaction should avoid wheatgrass and contact their doctor. Anyone who is pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid the plant as well.

 

Bottom line

Juicing wheatgrass is a simple way to deliver powerful antioxidants, nutrients, and amino acids into the body. The juice itself fits into most diets, and can be a simple and effective way to boost health.

Using a masticating juicer helps ensure the juice stays fresh while delivering as much of these important compounds as possible.

 

References

Bar-Sela, G., et al. (2015). The medical use of wheatgrass: Review of the gap between basic and clinical applications. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26156538/ 

Borah, M., et al. (2014). A study of the protective effect of Triticum aestivum L. in an experimental animal model of chronic fatigue syndrome. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4166815/ 

Khan, M. S., et al. (2015). Chromatographic analysis of wheatgrass extracts. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4678994/ 

Parit, S. B., et al. (2018). Nutritional quality and antioxidant activity of wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum) unwrap by proteome profiling and DPPH and FRAP assays. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30059150/ 

Rajpurohit, L., et al. (2015). Evaluation of the anti-microbial activity of various concentrations of wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum) extracts against Gram-positive bacteria: An in vitro study. http://www.jdrr.org/article.asp?issn=2348-2915;year=2015;volume=2;issue=2;spage=70;epage=72;aulast=Rajpurohit 

Yi, B., et al. (2011). Inhibition by wheat sprout (Triticum aestivum) juice of bisphenol A-induced oxidative stress in young women. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21736952/ 

 

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