Wheatgrass is the young grass of the common wheat plant, Triticum aestivum. It is commonly juiced into a highly nutritious drink or powdered and consumed as a dietary supplement. Wheatgrass has become popular in recent years due to its many purported health benefits.
Wheatgrass contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds that may provide many health advantages. It is especially high in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, amino acids, chlorophyll, enzymes, and antioxidants.
Some of the potential benefits of wheatgrass include improved digestion, weight loss support, blood sugar regulation, detoxification, cancer prevention, immune system support, wound healing, and more.
In this article, we’ll take a comprehensive look at the many uses and health benefits of wheatgrass.
Nutritional Profile of Wheatgrass
Below is an overview of the main nutrients found in 1 ounce (28 grams) of wheatgrass juice:
|Vitamin A||240% DV|
|Vitamin C||40% DV|
As you can see, wheatgrass is low in calories but packed with micronutrients like vitamins A and C. It also contains iron, magnesium, and some protein.
Wheatgrass may help promote digestion in several ways.
First, it contains enzymes like proteases, lipases, and amylases that help break down proteins, fats, and carbs in your digestive tract.
Animal studies have found that wheatgrass extracts high in these enzymes can help improve digestive function and reduce gastrointestinal issues like diarrhea.
The chlorophyll in wheatgrass may also offer digestive benefits. Some research suggests it can act as a natural antibacterial agent and reduce inflammation in the GI tract.
Finally, the nutrients and antioxidants in wheatgrass support overall health. Deficiencies in nutrients like magnesium, calcium, and iron can contribute to poor digestion.
More human research is needed, but current evidence indicates wheatgrass may boost digestive health in multiple ways.
Some research suggests wheatgrass could support weight loss in several ways:
- Low in calories and high in nutrients, allowing you to feel fuller while consuming fewer calories.
- May increase metabolism and fat burning due to chlorophyll content.
- Helps reduce cravings by balancing blood sugar.
- High antioxidant content reduces oxidative stress linked to obesity.
That said, human studies on wheatgrass and weight loss are lacking. More research is needed to confirm these potential effects.
Blood Sugar Control
Studies indicate wheatgrass may help lower blood sugar levels and prevent complications linked to diabetes.
In one small study in people with diabetes, taking wheatgrass juice for 3 months reduced average blood sugar levels by 15–20%.
What’s more, 50–60% of participants were able to reduce their diabetes medication dosage over the 3-month study.
Wheatgrass is thought to lower blood sugar in a few ways:
- Rich in antioxidants that help protect cells from oxidative damage caused by high blood sugar.
- May increase insulin sensitivity, allowing cells to use blood sugar more efficiently.
- Contains chlorophyll, which some research has linked to improved pancreatic cell function and blood sugar regulation.
Larger human studies are needed. But current evidence suggests wheatgrass may help decrease blood sugar levels.
Wheatgrass is widely used for detoxification due to its ability to stimulate liver function and counter oxidative stress.
It provides antioxidants, amino acids, minerals, and chlorophyll that may help neutralize toxins and stimulate toxin excretion through the liver, skin, and gastrointestinal tract.
Some research indicates wheatgrass may guard against oxidative stress caused by environmental pollutants like heavy metals. It may also boost levels of glutathione, one of the body’s main antioxidants.
Additionally, the chlorophyll in wheatgrass binds to heavy metals and other toxins, preventing their absorption. One study found that chlorophyll helped reduce absorption of aflatoxin, a type of toxin produced by mold.
No human studies have examined wheatgrass for detoxification. However, its antioxidant content and effects on liver function are promising.
Wheatgrass is widely believed to fight cancer. However, human research is limited.
Still, test-tube and animal studies indicate that certain compounds in wheatgrass may offer anti-cancer benefits, including:
- Chlorophyll: May protect cells from carcinogens and induce cancer cell death.
- Flavonoids: Have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may inhibit tumor growth.
- Amino acids: Help neutralize carcinogenic compounds and stimulate anticancer immunity.
What’s more, wheatgrass is high in selenium, which has been associated with a reduced risk of prostate, lung, and colorectal cancers.
The mechanisms behind wheatgrass’s effects are not fully understood. More high quality human studies are needed before making conclusions.
Some evidence indicates wheatgrass may boost immunity by:
- Providing antioxidants that protect immune cells from free radical damage.
- Reducing inflammation linked to weakened immunity.
- Enhancing detoxification capabilities of the liver, kidneys, skin, and lungs.
Animal studies reveal wheatgrass increases levels of antioxidants like glutathione and enzymes that protect cells from oxidative stress.
Test-tube studies demonstrate that chlorophyll inhibits inflammation by reducing cytokine levels. Over time, chronic inflammation can suppress immune function.
That said, human studies are limited. More research is needed on wheatgrass’s direct effects on immunity.
Topical application of wheatgrass may accelerate wound healing. One reason may be its high chlorophyll content.
In one study, applying a chlorophyll ointment to open wounds helped accelerate healing time. Chlorophyll may promote wound healing by reducing inflammation and stimulating new tissue growth.
Wheatgrass also contains amino acids, vitamins C and E, and selenium, which play key roles in repairing skin damage and enhancing tissue regeneration.
However, research on wheatgrass’s wound healing effects is limited to test-tube and animal studies. Human research is needed.
Wheatgrass can be consumed as a juice, powder, tablet, or added to smoothies. It’s most commonly consumed as a juice.
To juice wheatgrass, use a slow juicer to extract the liquid from freshly cut wheatgrass. Look for young, tender wheatgrass shoots with a vibrant green color.
Start with 1 ounce (30 ml) of wheatgrass juice per day. This amount can be gradually increased up to 2–3 ounces (60–90 ml) per day.
You can also mix 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of wheatgrass powder into water, juices, or smoothies. It has a mild grassy taste.
Furthermore, wheatgrass tablets and capsules containing wheatgrass powder are available in most health food stores.
No standard dosage has been established, but many wheatgrass supplement brands recommend 500–1,000 mg per day.
Potential Side Effects and Precautions
Wheatgrass is considered safe for most people. However, some side effects have been reported:
- Allergic reactions (rare)
It may also cause mild symptoms like diarrhea, dark stools, or nausea if you start with a high dose. Reduce your intake if any discomfort occurs.
Due to its effects on blood sugar, wheatgrass supplements may lower blood sugar levels. Those with diabetes should monitor blood sugar closely to avoid hypoglycemia.
Finally, wheatgrass grown in contaminated soil may accumulate heavy metals that can be toxic in large amounts. Choose wheatgrass from a trusted organic source.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult their healthcare provider prior to using wheatgrass.
The Bottom Line
Wheatgrass is consumed in juice, powder or supplement form to boost nutrition and enhance health in various ways.
Although more human research is needed, evidence indicates wheatgrass may help with digestion, weight loss, blood sugar control, detoxification, cancer prevention, immunity, and wound healing.
Start with a small dose to assess tolerance and gradually increase your intake to benefit from its diverse nutrients and health-enhancing plant compounds.
Try adding wheatgrass juice or powder into your routine to take advantage of its many purported benefits.