Wheatgrass is often described as a wonder or superfood. In this article we look at what wheatgrass is, consider the benefits for nutrition, how we can use wheatgrass during a detox and/or weight-loss programme and we explain how to sprout wheatseeds at home.
What is wheatgrass?
Wheatgrass comes from the wheat seed which then sprouts and looks very much like young grass.
What are the benefits of wheatgrass for our health?
There are many wide-ranging benefits of wheatgrass including:
• Improving circulation
• Improving digestion
• Cleansing the liver
• Boosting immunity
What vitamins and minerals are found in wheatgrass?
Wheatgrass, and in particular fresh wheatgrass, is one of the richest sources of vitamins and minerals available (there are over 90 of them) including
• Iron – so wheatgrass helps to prevent or recover from anaemia
• B-complex vitamins
• Vitamins A, C and E – antioxidants, boosting your immune system and helping to slow down the aging process (read more about anti-oxidants here)
As wheatgrass is actually a sprout (i.e. a fresh growth from a seed), it has a high chlorophyll content (the green pigment that harnesses the suns energy); chlorophyll can help build the blood and also has anti-bacterial properties.
Wheatgrass also contains lots of amino acids (amino acids are the building blocks of protein) – required for growth and cell rejuvenation – plus it contains lots of essential enzymes.
How does wheatgrass help with weight loss?
As you can see, wheatgrass is packed full of nutrients – so much so, the body quickly becomes satisfied so you don’t feel like eating any more. Wheatgrass also helps to stabilise blood sugars, which helps to stabilise the release of energy throughout the day; a plus side of this for weight-loss is that it helps you to reduce cravings. The active enzymes also help to break down fats, which helps with weight-loss too.
How does wheatgrass detox the body?
Wheatgrass is highly alkaline and with most of us having an acidic lifestyle, it helps to restore the pH balance of your body. (Read more about acid-alkaline diet on our blog here). Much of our acid and toxicity is held within the fat stored on the body. Therefore the alkaline effect on the body not only helps to release toxins, it also contributes to weight-loss as the body starts to revert to its natural weight.
Anything to be careful about?
Fresh wheatgrass is powerful – there can be strong detox symptoms, so we suggest you start with small amounts. The same applies for fresh wheatgrass or the powder supplement. The detox starts soon after drinking freshly juiced wheatgrass, so some people can feel nauseous relatively quickly. Ease in slowly and don’t overdo it. There are also some dangerous side effects possible if you are allergic, so try a small amount first (in extreme cases your throat could swell or you could develop hives).
Note that it is best not to drink wheatgrass after you have had a lot of alcohol; the body is already working to detox the body and adding wheatgrass can speed up the process, releasing too many toxins into the bloodstream at the same time.
The best way to consume wheatgrass is fresh. However the biggest downside is that you need a specialist cold press juicer.
Wheatgrass is easy to grow, even if you only have a small amount of space. All you need is:
• A growing tray
• Soil (any kind, although organic bag compost may be too acidic)
• Wheat seeds
For a tray 10 inches square you will need 1 cup of seeds and you will get about 10 ounces of juice!
It typically takes 7-12 days to grow a crop from start to finish. Start by soaking the wheat seeds for 8-12 hours (overnight). Sprout the seeds in a jar for 16-24 hours, remember to rinse them three times. Once a small ´tail´ can be seen, it is time to plant the seeds on top of the soil. Water well (but gently) every morning, spray misting on an evening and cover (with another tray or plastic) the seeds to keep them wet. Water every morning and mist on an evening for three days keeping them covered at all times. On day 4, it is time to remove the cover. Then continue watering once per day. Keep the tray out of direct sunlight. The grass is ready to eat when a second blade of grass appears. “Harvest” using scissors and cut at the base of the grass, above the soil (so you do not eat the root). You can store the harvested grass in the fridge for one to two weeks. Then start your next batch of seeds.
Whilst growing, expose the wheatgrass only to indirect sunlight (direct sunlight can increase the bitterness). To help reduce the chance of mould growth keep the humidity low (maybe use a fan to create a light breeze across the base of the grass where possible) and sow the seeds sparsely enough so that the roots do not grow too dense. If you do notice mould on the soil and/or bottom of the grass discard the wheatgrass as the mould can make you sick.
Growing your own works out far cheaper (once you have purchased the trays etc) and one advantage is that you can be in charge of the soil type (important for ensuring top quality wheatgrass).
How to juice
To juice wheatgrass, you need a masticating juicer. This type of juicer literally crushes and squeezes the juice from the wheatgrass, allowing the juice to drain out through one spout and pushing the pulp out through another. Although masticating juicers cost more than centrifugal juicers, they are best for extracting juice from wheatgrass and leafy green vegetables (like spinach).
Although fresh wheatgrass is best (for maximum nutrition), we all have busy lives so wheatgrass is also available in powder form. Whether you chose wheatgrass in fresh or powered form we suggest you also add it regularly to your juices for a nutrient supercharge!
To your health and happy sprouting.