Wheatgrass is the sprout of the hard wheat berry and refers to the young grass of the common wheat plant, Triticum aestivum. It is a wonder food that can boost our overall health and can be consumed as juice, powder or natural grass form.
Wheatgrass gives our body a complete package of nutrition. A glass of wheatgrass juice provides and abundant supply of chlorophyll; an array of vitamins such as vitamin A, B complex, C, E and K, and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sodium, sulphur, cobalt and zinc. This nutrient-rich grass also contains 17 amino acids [the building blocks of proteins], fibre and certain enzymes. It has no cholesterol.
An array of benefits
The secret behind wheatgrass offering innumerable health benefits lies in the rich and dense nutritional reservoir in the young sprouts. Wheatgrass juice is one of the best sources of chlorophyll and most of its health benefits are attributed to this, besides other vital nutrients.
Here is a brief account of the health benefits offered by wheatgrass:
Enhances the production of red blood cells
Wheatgrass juice has been proven to build red blood cells quickly after ingestion. The grass is loaded with vitamin B-12, folic acid and iron, all vital for production of healthy red blood cells.
Lowers blood pressure
Regular consumption of wheatgrass juice is a natural treatment for lowering high blood pressure. The fibre content can help sweep away cholesterol from the digestive tract.
Benefits thalassemia patients: Recent research reported that a group of patients suffering from thalassemia required fewer blood transfusions after drinking wheatgrass juice regularly. These thalassemia patients otherwise needed blood transfusion every week. [From the Division of Pediatric Hematology-Oncology, Department of Pediatrics, Advanced Pediatric Center, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh 160 012, India].
A strong immune system is of paramount importance in preventing deadly diseases like cancer. The rich array of nutrients in wheatgrass juice and powder helps in strengthening the immune system and keeps the body in perfect health.
Restores energy and vitality: Wheatgrass restores energy by fulfilling the nutritional deficiencies. It supplies high-quality proteins, enzymes, vitamins and minerals so that the body is not deficient in any vital nutrient.
Cleanses the body
The high concentration of chlorophyll in wheatgrass has anti-bacterial properties and helps detoxify the body.
Aids weight loss
Wheatgrass juice is an inexpensive, easy and extremely potent aid to weight loss. The juice works by stimulating the metabolism and suppressing the cravings that lead to overeating.
Combats free radicals and fights cancer
The antioxidant-rich phytonutrients beta-carotene, bioflavonoid, vitamins B, C and E give a tough fight to the free radicals. The anti-oxidant punch in the juice neutralises adverse effects of free radicals and prevents damage to the DNA and cell structure helping us stay healthy. Its ability to detoxify the body, prevent DNA damage, boost immunity levels and enhance the production of red blood cells helps fight away carcinogens. Chlorophyll is the active ingredient in the grass that inhibits the metabolic activity of carcinogens.
Promotes healthy skin
A glass of juice can do wonders for your skin. It can give you an ever-lasting young look, prevent ageing and make your skin look beautiful, healthy and glowing. It also prevents the formation of dark circles around the eyes.
Wheatgrass is now becoming the first choice in the cosmetic industry and is being used for developing natural skin care and hair care products. Cosmetics with wheatgrass as the main ingredients are at their best as tonic for the skin. But nothing beats the fresh natural juice.
Prevents greying of hair
Wheatgrass is a simple solution to prevent premature greying of hair. It works miraculously on hair and keeps them healthy and strong. Rubbing the juice on the scalp also helps to get rid of dandruff and itchy scalp.
Making wheatgrass a part of your diet is walking on a path of good health.
- Drinking fresh juice is ideal. The best way to consume the juice is to combine it with juice of your choice. The juice combines well with orange, apple, pineapple, lemon and guava juice.
- Add powdered grass to smoothies for extra nutrition to energise you.
- Wheatgrass tablets available in the market can also be taken as a supplement.
A word of caution
Wheatgrass is safe for everyone but you might experience minor side-effects if you consume it in large amounts. Side effects may include nausea, headache hives, stomach disorder or staining of the teeth. Drink the juice in moderation to avoid side-effects.
- Do not keep the fresh juice for a long time. Try to consume it immediately.
- Wheatgrass is not a substitute for a well-balanced diet. Make it a part of your diet, not your complete diet.
- Individuals who are allergic or sensitive to wheat should avoid having it.
- Consult your doctor or dietician before starting on it.
Grow wheatgrass at home
You can grow wheatgrass at home for maximum health benefits.
- Soak wheat seeds in a bowl for 8 to 10 hours. Change the water after four hours.
- Take 2 inch deep tray with holes for drainage on the bottom surface. Mix one part peat moss with three parts planting soil [available at any gardening stores] in the tray.
- Water the soil mixture first, then spread wheat evenly over the moist soil.
- Cover the wheatgrass with a paper towel and place it near a window to ensure proper ventilation for three days. However, keep away from direct sunlight.
- For the first three days, in the morning, water such that seeds are completely soaked in water. In the evening, lightly spray water with a spray bottle.
- On the fifth day, the young shoots grow above 1 inch. Now, water only once a day but ensure that the soil is damp to keep the roots moist. Around the ninth or 10th day, the wheatgrass is grows to 6 – 7 inch and is ready for harvesting. At this stage, the wheatgrass is at its nutritional peak. Cut the grass, juice it and have fresh.
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