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What is the difference between wheatgrass and wheatgrass powder?

Wheatgrass is the young grass of the common wheat plant, Triticum aestivum. It contains high concentrations of chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Wheatgrass has become a popular health food and is available as a fresh juice or powdered supplement.

Wheatgrass powder is made from dehydrated wheatgrass juice. The juice is dried into a powder which can then be mixed with water or other liquids and consumed. Wheatgrass powder offers similar nutritional benefits as fresh wheatgrass juice in a more convenient and shelf-stable form.

While wheatgrass and wheatgrass powder share many of the same properties, there are some key differences between the two forms. This article will explore what wheatgrass and wheatgrass powder are, their nutritional profiles, benefits, differences and how to use each one.

What is Wheatgrass?

Wheatgrass refers to the young grass shoots of the wheat plant, Triticum aestivum. It is harvested just before reaching full maturity, when the grass is still soft, green and full of nutrients.

Wheatgrass differs from wheat malt, which is germinated wheat grains used to make beer. It also differs from wheat greens, which are the larger, older leaves of the wheat plant.

To grow wheatgrass, wheat seeds are soaked and then planted in soil or grown hydroponically. The grass reaches a height of around 6-10 inches before being harvested.

The best-tasting wheatgrass is grown outdoors in good quality soil. However, it can also be grown indoors or hydroponically. The key is to allow it enough time to develop its signature sweet, grassy flavor.

Wheatgrass can be consumed immediately after harvesting as a fresh juice. It can also be freeze dried or dehydrated into powders.

Nutritional Profile of Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass is low in calories but packed with micronutrients. Some of the nutrients found in 1 ounce (30 ml) of wheatgrass juice include:

  • Calories: 20
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Vitamin A: 240% of the RDI
  • Vitamin C: 40% of the RDI
  • Iron: 6% of the RDI
  • Calcium: 4% of the RDI
  • Magnesium: 8% of the RDI
  • Antioxidants like flavonoids and phenolic acids

Wheatgrass also contains 17 amino acids, 8-10 enzymes and contains up to 70% chlorophyll, giving the juice its signature green color.

What is Wheatgrass Powder?

Wheatgrass powder is made from wheatgrass juice that has been dried and ground into a fine powder. To make it, fresh wheatgrass juice is gently dehydrated using low temperatures.

Drying helps preserve the nutrients, enzymes and antioxidants found in the living juice. Grinding the dried juice into powder makes it convenient and easy to store.

Most wheatgrass powder on the market is produced using spray drying, freeze drying or air drying techniques. This helps protect nutritional content.

Wheatgrass powder can simply be mixed into water, smoothies or other foods and beverages. Many people find it easier to consume than taking fresh shots of wheatgrass juice.

It has a mild grassy, earthy taste and green color. Because the taste is subtle, it mixes well into shakes, juices and recipes.

Nutritional Profile of Wheatgrass Powder

Since it’s made from dehydrated wheatgrass juice, wheatgrass powder provides the same nutritional profile in a dried form:

  • Good source of vitamins A, C and E
  • Contains B vitamins like thiamine, riboflavin and niacin
  • High in minerals like iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium and zinc
  • Decent source of protein
  • Up to 80 enzymes
  • High in chlorophyll, flavonoids and antioxidants

Keep in mind that once in powder form, the enzymes and vitamins become slightly less bioavailable than fresh wheatgrass juice. However, spray drying and freeze drying help protect the nutrients better than air drying methods.

Benefits of Wheatgrass

Here are some of the main evidence-based benefits of consuming wheatgrass:

Rich in Antioxidants

Wheatgrass contains flavonoids, phenolic acids and other antioxidants. These neutralize harmful free radicals and may reduce oxidative damage to cells.

Some test tube studies reveal powerful antioxidant capacities, though more human research is needed.

May Aid Blood Sugar Control

Animal and test tube studies demonstrate wheatgrass’ ability to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity. However, human studies are lacking.

Anti-Inflammatory Effects

The antioxidants in wheatgrass fight inflammation in the body. Test tube research reveals anti-inflammatory properties comparable to some prescription drugs.

May Have Anti-Cancer Potential

In test tubes, wheatgrass extracts inhibit the growth and spread of cancer cells. Chlorophyll may be responsible. Yet, human studies are necessary.

Improves Digestion

Animal research indicates wheatgrass supports digestion by increasing enzyme activity and reducing oxidative stress. However, more studies are needed.

Supports Immunity

Wheatgrass provides many nutrients involved in immunity, like vitamins A, C and E. Animal studies reveal enhanced immunity markers, but human research is lacking.

May Aid Detoxification

Chlorophyll helps bind to toxins and aids the liver in detoxification. Test tube research demonstrates reduced toxicity levels but further studies are needed.

Benefits of Wheatgrass Powder

The key benefits of wheatgrass powder include:

Convenient and Shelf-Stable

Unlike fresh wheatgrass that requires juicing, wheatgrass powder is easy to use. It can be mixed into water or smoothies for a quick wheatgrass boost.

It also has a much longer shelf life than fresh juice. When stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry location, it can keep for up to a year.

Saves Money Over Time

Growing and juicing wheatgrass at home can take considerable time, effort and maintenance. Wheatgrass powder offers a cost-effective alternative.

It also allows you to enjoy wheatgrass year-round, even when outdoor growing conditions are poor.

More Nutrient Retention

Expertly freeze-dried wheatgrass powders retain a higher concentration of nutrients than juice. Less oxidation occurs during processing compared to juicing.

Spray-dried wheatgrass powders may have lower nutrient levels but are slightly cheaper.

Easier to Use in Recipes

Compared to fresh juice, wheatgrass powder blends more seamlessly into recipes like smoothies, juices, baked goods and more.

It mixes well without dramatically altering texture or flavor.

Differences Between Wheatgrass and Wheatgrass Powder

While wheatgrass and wheatgrass powder share similar benefits, there are some key differences:

Energy and Enzymes

Fresh wheatgrass is thought to have a higher level of bioactive enzymes and life energy than the powdered juice. Enzymes are delicate and can be damaged by processing.

Nutrition

Fresh wheatgrass juice has up to 70% chlorophyll, the highest of any known plant. The drying process slightly reduces chlorophyll, vitamin and mineral levels in powders.

Taste

Fresh wheatgrass has a grassy, bitter taste. The wheatgrass flavor is significantly milder in powdered form.

Convenience

Wheatgrass powder has a much longer shelf life and is significantly easier to use than fresh wheatgrass juice.

Cost

Over time, buying packaged wheatgrass powder is typically cheaper than growing and juicing wheatgrass at home.

Wheatgrass Wheatgrass Powder
Energy and Enzymes Higher enzymes and life energy Slightly lower
Nutrition Up to 70% chlorophyll when fresh Slightly less chlorophyll and nutrients
Taste Grassy, bitter Milder flavor
Convenience Must be juiced immediately Longer shelf life, very convenient
Cost Can be costly over time Typically cheaper long-term

How to Use Wheatgrass

Here are some simple ways to use wheatgrass:

Wheatgrass Juice

Juicing fresh wheatgrass produces 1–2 ounces of juice per tray. Wheatgrass juice powder can also be mixed with water.

Start with 1 teaspoon per cup of water and increase to taste. Drink straight or add other fruits and veggies.

Smoothies

Add 2–4 tablespoons of wheatgrass juice or 1 teaspoon of powder to smoothies. It combines well with fruits like pineapple, mango and banana.

Wheatgrass Shots

Instead of juicing wheatgrass into a glass, juice it directly into a shot glass for a quick 1–2 ounce shot.

Detox Drinks

Mix wheatgrass juice or powder into detox water, juices or shakes along with lemon, ginger, cayenne and other detoxifying ingredients.

How to Use Wheatgrass Powder

Wheatgrass powder is extremely versatile. Here are some easy ways to use it:

Add to Smoothies

Add 1 teaspoon per smoothie to boost nutritional content without overpowering flavor.

Stir into Juices

Whisk 1–2 teaspoons of wheatgrass powder into any juice for extra nutrients.

Mix into Yogurt or Oats

Combine 1 teaspoon with yogurt, overnight oats or porridge for a nutrition boost.

Blend into Dressings or Sauces

Add 1⁄2–1 teaspoon per serving into salad dressings, dips, pesto or marinades.

Bake with Wheatgrass

Add 2–3 teaspoons of wheatgrass powder when baking bread, muffins or other baked goods.

Purchasing Wheatgrass

When purchasing wheatgrass juice or powder, quality is key. Here are some tips for selecting the best products:

Fresh Wheatgrass Juice

  • Opt for freshly juiced, local wheatgrass instead of bottled whenever possible.
  • Make sure the blades and juicer are thoroughly cleaned to avoid contamination.
  • Only purchase enough for 1-2 days since it has a short shelf life.
  • Avoid juice that smells sour or is turning brown.

Wheatgrass Powder

  • Look for freeze-dried over spray-dried.
  • Choose organic, non-GMO products.
  • Read the ingredient label to ensure it’s 100% pure wheatgrass.
  • Select a reputable brand and avoid cheap fillers.

Growing Wheatgrass

  • Use organic wheatgrass seeds suited for growing.
  • Allow the wheatgrass to grow 6-10 inches before harvesting.
  • Cut right above the root to avoid browning.
  • Don’t harvest grass that is yellowing or altered in color.

Potential Side Effects

Wheatgrass is generally safe for most people when used appropriately. However, some side effects may occur:

Upset Stomach

Some people report nausea, bloating, constipation or diarrhea after consuming wheatgrass, especially on an empty stomach.

Allergic Reactions

Wheatgrass could trigger reactions in people allergic to wheat. Discontinue use if any food allergy symptoms develop.

Headaches

Due to its detoxifying effects, some people report headaches after consuming wheatgrass juice. Stay hydrated and reduce intake if this occurs.

Mold Concerns

Poorly harvested or stored wheatgrass may develop mold. To avoid this, check for any fuzzy texture or discolored patches.

It’s also best to avoid wheatgrass if you have a compromised immune system or chronic illness.

Conclusion

Wheatgrass and wheatgrass powder both provide dense nutrition and potential health benefits. Wheatgrass powder makes it more convenient to get a daily dose of greens.

Fresh wheatgrass juice retains more nutrients and plant compounds. However, wheatgrass powder offers much greater convenience and a longer shelf life.

While their nutrition profiles differ slightly, both provide antioxidants, chlorophyll, vitamins and minerals. Include them as part of a healthy, well-rounded diet.

Try adding a bit each day to smoothies, juices or shots. Select high quality, organic products to get the most benefits.