What part of wheatgrass do you eat?

Wheatgrass is the young grass of the common wheat plant, Triticum aestivum. It is a popular health food and is often used to make wheatgrass juice or added to smoothies and other foods.


Wheatgrass contains high concentrations of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes. Many proponents claim it provides health benefits ranging from improved digestion to cancer prevention. But before adding wheatgrass to your diet, it’s important to understand exactly what parts of the plant are edible.

When harvesting wheatgrass, there are three main parts of the plant that can be consumed:

  • The blades – The above-ground bright green leaves.
  • The roots – The below-ground white roots.
  • The seeds – The small, hard seeds that form as the plant reaches maturity.

Of these three parts, the most commonly consumed is the grass blades. The roots and seeds can also be eaten but are not as popular.


The above-ground leaves or blades of wheatgrass are the most popular edible portion of the plant. Wheatgrass blades are usually harvested when they are young and still bright green in color, before the plant flowers and sets seed.

To harvest the blades, they are cut off just above the root or soil using scissors or a knife. The optimal height to cut the blades is about 6-8 inches tall. At this stage, the leaves contain concentrated nutrients and enzymes but are still tender enough to chew and digest.

The wheatgrass blades can be chopped and eaten fresh immediately after harvesting. They are often chewed thoroughly and swallowed since they are fibrous. Wheatgrass blades can also be juiced using a specialized juicer or high-power blender. The juice has a bright green color and concentrated plant nutrient content.

Dried wheatgrass blades are sometimes used to make tea, tablets, or powdered supplements as well. But fresh or freshly juiced blades are considered the most nutritious forms of wheatgrass.

Nutritional Content

The nutritional content of wheatgrass blades includes:

  • Chlorophyll – The pigment responsible for their bright green color. Chlorophyll has antioxidant and cleansing effects in the body.
  • Amino acids – Including aspartic acid, glutamic acid, arginine, alanine, serine, valine, methionine, threonine, and lysine.
  • Antioxidants – Like flavonoids, phenolic acids, and quinones.
  • Vitamins – Such as vitamins A, C, E, K, and various B vitamins.
  • Minerals – Like calcium, phosphorus, selenium, potassium, and magnesium.
  • Enzymes – Including amylase, protease, lipase, cytrochrome oxidase, and transhydrogenase.

Research on the specific health effects of wheatgrass blades is limited. But the nutritional content suggests they may provide benefits like reducing inflammation, boosting immunity, and protecting cells from oxidative damage.


Wheatgrass roots are the below-ground portion of the plant, typically white or beige in color. They are mainly comprised of complex carbohydrates and fiber, with lower nutrient contents than wheatgrass blades.

Some sources state that wheatgrass roots can be washed, dried, cut, and steeped to make a medicinal tea. The tea is purported to have cleansing effects in the body. However, there is limited evidence on the nutritional content or health effects specific to wheatgrass roots.

In general, wheatgrass roots are not a popular part of the plant to consume. The blades are more nutrient-dense and better researched in terms of potential health benefits.


As wheatgrass plants mature, they produce small brown or yellow seeds, just like common wheat. At one time, wheatgrass seeds were often sprouted to produce wheatgrass shoots or blades for juicing and supplementation.

However, sprouted wheatgrass may pose health risks. According to the FDA, raw sprouts like wheatgrass have been linked to nearly 30 reported outbreaks of foodborne illness since 1996. Pathogens can easily grow on sprouted seeds.

Today, wheatgrass is usually grown as grass rather than sprouts. This helps reduce the risk of contamination. Wheatgrass seeds are no longer commonly consumed.

How to Eat Wheatgrass

Here are some of the most popular ways to eat wheatgrass:

Wheatgrass Juice

Using a juicer, wheatgrass blades can be extracted into a concentrated juice shot. 1-2 ounces of juice per day is a typical dosage. Due to oxalic acid content, wheatgrass juice should not be consumed in excess.


Chopped wheatgrass can be added to smoothies for additional nutritional content. Start with about 1 tablespoon per smoothie as too much can overpower other flavors.

Tablets and Powders

Dried wheatgrass tablets and powders provide condensed nutrition in a shelf-stable form. Follow product label instructions for dosage.

Fresh Blades

Chopped or chewed fresh wheatgrass blades provide active enzymes and vitamins. Start with 1-2 grams fresh per day.

Potential Side Effects

When consumed in normal food amounts, wheatgrass is generally well tolerated with few side effects. However, a few precautions are warranted:

  • Mold risk – Fresh wheatgrass must be washed well to remove any mold. Moldy wheatgrass can cause gastrointestinal issues.
  • Allergies – Those with wheat allergies or grass allergies should avoid wheatgrass.
  • Oxalates – Large amounts of wheatgrass juice may accumulate oxalates, which can contribute to kidney stones in predisposed individuals.
  • Blood thinning – Due to vitamin K content, wheatgrass may enhance the effects of blood thinning medications like warfarin.
  • Upset stomach – Some individuals may experience nausea or diarrhea when consuming high amounts of fresh wheatgrass.

To avoid adverse effects, introduce wheatgrass slowly and opt for moderate, culinary amounts vs. excessive juicing or supplementation.

Growing Wheatgrass at Home

One option for obtaining wheatgrass is to grow it yourself at home. Here is a simple step-by-step guide:

  1. Obtain wheatgrass seeds – Hard winter wheat or spring wheat varieties work best.
  2. Soak seeds – Place seeds in water for 8-12 hours prior to planting.
  3. Sow seeds – Fill a flat tray with soil and evenly distribute seeds across the surface. Cover with a thin layer of additional soil.
  4. Water and drain – Water thoroughly after planting and be sure the tray can drain excess moisture.
  5. Provide sun and air – Place tray in a sunny spot. Air circulation helps prevent mold.
  6. Maintain moisture – Keep soil moist but not sopping wet as the seeds sprout.
  7. Harvest blades – Use scissors to cut blades when they reach 6-8 inches tall.

Growing wheatgrass at home provides the freshest product. But be sure to follow food safety guidelines carefully when growing and using fresh wheatgrass.


Of the different parts of the wheatgrass plant, the young grass blades provide the most concentrated nutrition and health benefits. The roots and seeds are edible but not as widely used. Juicing or blending the blades, adding them to smoothies, or chewing the fresh grass are some of the most popular preparation methods.

When sourcing and using wheatgrass, opt for fresh, clean products. Introduce it to your diet slowly and avoid overconsumption, especially of wheatgrass juice. With some careful planning, adding wheatgrass can be a nutritious way to incorporate more vegetables into your routine.

This covers the key questions around which parts of wheatgrass to eat. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions!

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