Wheatgrass has turned into a well-liked health supplement and ingredient in juicing and smoothies as a consequence of it delivering such a high level of minerals and vitamins and the resulting supposed health and fitness benefits. Based on the CDC, less than 30% of Americans alone get their recommended daily amount of three vegetable servings per day.
Wheatgrass may be a way for you to squeeze in a large portion of that nutrition in a simple smoothie. So, what is wheatgrass? What’s the truth about its benefits? How do you get wheatgrass? Does wheatgrass taste good? How can wheatgrass be made into a smoothie? Let’s explore.
1. What Is Wheatgrass?
Wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum) is a nutrient-rich young grass belonging to the wheat family. It can be consumed in raw edible plant form or juiced into a liquid. It can also be freeze-dried and milled down to a tablet, capsule, or powder form.
Wheatgrass Considerations and Possible Side Effects
Little is known about the long-term health effects of consuming wheatgrass. Standard medical advice considering wheatgrass consumption includes the following:
Unlike typical wheat family plants, wheatgrass doesn’t contain gluten. Wheatgrass allergies are common, however, and can include digestive upset, skin rashes, respiratory difficulties, and impaired circulation. Those with known grass pollen and/or wheat allergies should avoid wheatgrass in any form.
• Mold and Bacteria
Aside from allergies, the primary consideration in eating wheatgrass is mold and bacteria contamination. Wheatgrass has a very elaborate and tightly bound root system and is typically grown in very moist soil or water. These conditions make the ideal environment for mold and bacteria growth. Consuming contaminated wheatgrass can make you sick.
Since wheatgrass lowers blood glucose levels, people with diabetes are encouraged to consult their primary medical provider before consuming wheatgrass. Wheatgrass may cause your blood sugar to drop too low, especially if you take insulin or other diabetic medications.
• Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
The FDA recommends women who are pregnant or lactating avoid wheatgrass due to lacking evidence on side effects and potential risk of bacterial contamination.
Consuming wheatgrass in high amounts and/or for prolonged periods has been known to cause appetite changes, headache, nausea and vomiting, and constipation. Wheatgrass proponents say these symptoms are the detoxification effects of wheatgrass on the body, you should always discuss your dietary and medical use of wheatgrass with a nutritionist, pharmacist, or primary care physician to ensure safe use.
2. What Nutrients Are in Wheatgrass?
Over 100 different nutritional elements have been identified within wheatgrass by researchers. These include antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and such as these:
American agricultural chemist Charles Schnabel, who’d later be labeled as the father of wheatgrass, claimed that 15 pounds of wheatgrass were equivalent to the nutritional value of 350 pounds of garden vegetables. Subsequent scientific data has found that one ounce of wheatgrass juice is roughly equal to three ounces of fresh vegetables or the equivalent of one dark leafy plant vegetable.
3. Why Use Wheatgrass in Your Smoothies?
While there are many purported health benefits associated with wheatgrass, not all have been thoroughly researched or backed by experts. Two of the most studied wheatgrass benefits include:
1. Alkalizing & Blood Properties of Chlorophyll
The human body prefers and thrives in a slightly alkaline pH balance. Diets high in processed and other acidic foods disrupt the body’s pH, overload the kidneys from excreting excess acid, and encourage the formation of various disease processes.
The chlorophyll in wheatgrass has an alkalizing effect on the body that’s been researched in cancer prevention, preventing bone loss, protecting cells, anti-aging of skin, weight loss management, and improving kidney function.
Chlorophyll molecules are also similar to hemoglobin. Some studies have shown it can increase blood cell counts to improve blood circulation, reduce blood pressure, and improve blood circulation.
2. Antioxidant Effects
At least nine antioxidants have been found in wheatgrass. These antioxidants help prevent free-radical damage that causes the formation of disease and premature aging.
Studies have shown that wheatgrass may protect cellular mitochondria, inhibit lipid peroxidation in the liver, reduce inflammation, lessen arthritis symptoms, lower the risk for cancer, improve cognitive function, relieve anxiety, reduce cholesterol risks, and boost the immune system.
Other possible health benefits include:
- Metabolic regulation to promote healthy weight loss and maintenance.
- Balances reproductive hormones to improve fertility.
- Detoxing and liver purification.
- Lowers blood glucose levels.
- Antiseptic to ward off germs and bacteria.
- Prevents tooth decay.
- Digestive assistance.
- Energizes cellular activities.
- Improves night vision.
- Sleep regulation.
- Improves eczema, psoriasis, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
- Improves thyroid function.
- Helps extract nutrients from other healthful foods.
- Protects nerve cell function.
- Promotes wound healing.
4. How to Consume Wheatgrass
As mentioned above, wheatgrass can be bought in powder, raw, liquid, or pill form.
In pill form, you’d take the supplement as directed by the label. With wheatgrass powder, you’d add the powder to a drink of choice according to the product’s serving instructions.
Health experts recommend consuming wheatgrass as close to its raw state as possible to reap the most benefit, however. Raw wheatgrass may be challenging to find, and pre-made liquid shots of wheatgrass at kiosks and health food stores are often quite expensive. So, many choose to grow and juice the wheatgrass themselves.
Growing wheatgrass is relatively easy. It can be done as simply as in a windowsill pot. To cultivate, you’ll cut the wheatgrass off at the base of the blade after checking thoroughly for mold growth near the root. If moldy, throw out the wheatgrass and start over with a fresh pot and soil.
After washing your cut wheatgrass well, use it immediately raw or place it in either a hand-cranked or automatic juicer. A half of a cup of raw wheatgrass will yield about an ounce of wheatgrass juice.
What Does Wheatgrass Taste Like?
The taste of wheatgrass is often a deterrent for many. It has a very potent and bitter taste when consumed by itself raw. Even the powdered form of wheatgrass has a very pungent earthy taste. Most describe wheatgrass as tasting like fresh cut grass smells. Smoothies can help eliminate the pronounced unappealing taste.
5. How to Make a Wheatgrass Smoothie
Smoothies are leading the pack in how to fit in adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables daily. They provide a portable, drinkable solution for busy, no-fuss, and on-the-go diets.
A wheatgrass smoothie packs a big nutritional punch on its own if you don’t mind the taste. If you’d like to improve the taste and get some other dietary ingredients, the combinations are only limited by your imagination.
Yogurt, juice, milk, or water can be used as the liquid. Fruit, vegetables, and herbs can be added frozen or fresh. Ice helps create a thicker and more slushier texture. Ingredients like peanut butter and banana can help minimize the blood sugar drops associated with wheatgrass.
Here we have three recipes using juiced wheatgrass, powdered wheatgrass, and raw wheatgrass to get you started.
1. Fresh Kiwi & Pineapple Wheatgrass Smoothie
The combination of kiwi and pineapple adds a tart sweetness to the smoothie, and mint and lime juice add a refreshing twist. Add whatever freshly squeezed fruit or vegetable juice you have on hand for a convenient and tasty smoothie recipe.
Juice of one fresh lime
4 kiwi peeled and chopped
1/2 cup fresh pineapple chopped 3 fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup ice cubes
3 Tbsp wheatgrass juice
8 oz of your preferred fruit or vegetable juice
Step One: Blend all ingredients for 30 second on low-speed and then on medium-high speed until you’ve reached the desired consistency. Too thin? You can add a few more ice cubes. Too thick? You can add juice by the tablespoon.
2. Easy Peasy Banana Wheatgrass Powdered Smoothie
This recipe is perfect for those with limited budgets and time. It has three simple ingredients that take less than 2 minutes to process into a delicious smoothie.
1 tsp powdered wheatgrass
3 peeled bananas
8 oz cranberry juice
Step One: Blend banana until it’s broken down to a thick paste. Step Two: Add juice and wheatgrass powder. Step Three: Blend to your preferred consistency
Tip: If possible, freeze your cranberry juice overnight for a slushier smoothie.
Tip: Only use wheatgrass powder from reputable manufacturers to ensure taste and quality.
3. Raw Wheatgrass & Almond Milk Green Smoothie
A wheatgrass smoothie to wake up all your taste buds. This one pair smooth almond milk and raw wheatgrass with the spice of cilantro, velvety sweetness of fresh mango, and crisp bite of pear and spinach. Prep takes a little more time, but it’s so worth it.
1/2 cup raw wheatgrass
1/2 cup chopped pear
1/2 cup peeled and diced mango 1/2 cup of almond milk
4 cilantro leaves
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 cup of raw spinach
1/2 cup ice cubes
Step One: Blend wheatgrass for at least 60 seconds. Step Two: Add all other ingredients and blend until the desired consistency is reached.
Tip: Anytime you’re working with raw wheatgrass, you will want to thoroughly blend it first by itself to prevent a chunky smoothie consistency.
Tip: Also, keep in mind that raw, juiced, and powder forms can be interchanged with these recipes if you find you prefer one form over the other.
In closing, wheatgrass contains many nutritional substances and values, making it an important staple in the diet. While the taste isn’t so appealing on its own, the smoothie method can help you incorporate wheatgrass into your diet in a tasty and healthful way. Always consult a nutritional expert and/or your primary care physician before use since wheatgrass can be an allergen and counterproductive for certain people.