Sorting wheatgrass truths from fiction can be a difficult process. From the initial research on the useful effects of wheatgrass on ailing chickens in the 1920s, claims for wheatgrass benefits for individuals have burgeoned. Dissenters, too, have multiplied as quickly as wheatgrass grows. In 2006, Brian Dunning published "Speptiod # 06," which criticized many claims, focusing on the lack of scientific research into the claims. In the following years, that research has begun to be published.
So what are the wheatgrass facts? In a nutshell, there’s a grain of fact in the majority of the claims–but not many are "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."
Claim: wheatgrass is very high in vitamins and other nutrients.
Fact: It is just about the same as any other green vegetable. Match up two ounces of wheatgrass juice to a large serving of broccoli or spinach and you find the protein of all three to be virtually the same. Wheatgrass has 4 times the vitamin E of broccoli and 1/3 more than spinach, but broccoli has 25 times as much vitamin C as wheatgrass and spinach has 8 times. Vitamin B12 is frequently touted as one of wheatgrass’ major components. Two ounces have 0.3 micrograms–admittedly more than spinach and broccoli, neither one of which have any, but this is still only 1/2 of 1% of the minimum daily requirement for B12. Wheatgrass does have significant, just not overwhelming, amounts of numerous important vitamins, minerals, and other micro-nutrients. It is good for you.
Claim: wheatgrass is 70% chlorophyll, and chlorophyll will cure cancer, digestive conditions, and heavy metal poisoning.
Fact: There have been some small trials that have found that wheatgrass juice can be helpful in all these areas, although it doesn’t alleviate all such ailments. Some children with a hereditary anemia were able to increase the time between blood transfusions when they drank 100 ml. of wheatgrass juice each day. Women with breast cancer undergoing chemotherapy required fewer of the drugs which help re-build blood components if they had a similar amount of daily wheatgrass. Similar quantities seem to ameliorate the extent of ulcerative colitis. Wheatgrass, additionally, showed no counter-indications in any of these situations (if you don’t consider its flavor). So, wheatgrass is probably an aid to good health without significant side effects for the majority of people.
Claim: wheatgrass has no gluten.
Fact: Wheatgrass that has been cut after the seed has been entirely absorbed for plant growth usually has no gluten. Cut too early, it can still have some of the gluten proteins that will be concentrated in juice. Probably a tiny amount–but if you have sensitivities, you may prefer to stay clear of it.
Claim: even mold on wheatgrass can be avoided in the juice. Fact: wheat grown indoors in closely packed trays is prone to having the ungerminated seeds mold in damp environments. The obvious mold may be cleared away, and, of course, you don’t juice the unsprouted grain. However, mold reproduces by microscopic spores which might be on the grass blades. If your intolerance to mold is high, it may be good to avoid wheatgrass juice.
To preserve the good things in wheatgrass, you need to juice it properly. Either a hand-cranked juicer or an electric single- or double-auger masticating juicer like the Omega 8004 is needed. These slow-speed juicers squeeze the juice out, rather than chopping it up and pushing it out a strainer as do the high-speed juicers. The cutting both bruises the blades and produces much higher oxidation–neither one of which safeguards the nutrients. In addition, the high-speed juicers produce significant heat which further degrades the juice. Another caution: if you won’t be able to drink it promptly, keep it in the refrigerator in a container just the size of the juice so it can not further oxidize.
Miracle? No, but not a myth either. In reality, there are rewards to consuming wheatgrass juice. Its juice–properly grown, harvested, juiced, and stored–is a healthy choice, and that is a fact.