As an oft-parodied indicator of hippies and health nuts, wheatgrass juice has gotten the short end of the straw when it comes to representation in popular media. But maybe you’ve seen the plant at a Copiana harvest or offered at your local juice bar and wondered what it’s all about. Why do people insist on drinking juiced grass? Does it actually do anything? What about the taste?
So yes, a wheatgrass shot is green, and yes, it’s grass juice, and yes, it’s pretty bitter. That’s why you take it as a shot. We don’t drink wheatgrass for the taste, we drink it for the crazy health benefits. And you should too. Wheatgrass, more than microgreens, is a nutrient-packed power plant that shows up full-grown veggies and supports everything from digestion, to skin health, to the blood and heart.
So let’s get into the details. Below, a look at what’s so special about this superfood.
What is wheatgrass?
Wheatgrass is the young leaves of the common wheat plant. Like microgreens, wheatgrass is harvested young at its peak nutritional and antioxidant value. It is easy to grow at home, or commercially available as juice, powder, and tablets. Wheatgrass is full of vitamins and minerals-more than a serving of full-grown leafy greens. It’s like eating a salad by taking a shot. Making more sense yet?
- Vitamins and Minerals: Wheatgrass contains high amounts of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as iron, magnesium, and calcium. It contains eight essential amino acids (amino acids humans don’t produce and need to source from food), which are the building blocks of protein and contain lots of energy. It’s your daily multivitamin, but more powerful and easily absorbable.
- Antioxidants: Wheatgrass is antioxidant-rich, which means it can fight free radicals that damage cells and reduce oxidative stress. Antioxidants are important for skin and heart health, and the antioxidant content in wheatgrass has been demonstrat effective against cell damage in the liver.
- Chlorophyll: All greens are full of chlorophyll, and wheatgrass is no exception. Chlorophyll acts as a powerful detoxifier, clearing up skin blemishes, aiding in digestion, speeding up the healing process, and even replenishing red blood cells. It contains high amounts of oxygen which, when digested, transfer to your cells and make them very happy.
- Nutrient-dense: Wheatgrass has been found to have higher levels of antioxidants, protein, vitamins, and minerals than full-grown leafy greens. I’ll say it again, ’cause it bears repeating: wheatgrass is a salad in a shot. I, for one, am not the best at getting my daily recommended dosage of veggies, and wheatgrass is a great supplement to the vegetables I do manage to incorporate into my diet. Most Americans don’t eat nearly enough fruits and vegetables in an average day, so shots all around! Wheatgrass shots, that is.
- Fiber: Wheatgrass, like most greens, is loaded with fiber. It will help regulate your digestive system and help with constipation or intestinal discomfort. Fiber increases wheatgrass’s detoxifying properties and supports its usefulness as a regulator after a fatty or sugary meal or excessive drinking. If you’ve overdone it with the “quarantinis,” a wheatgrass shot will perk you up, pronto!
Fiber also helps you feel more full and, combined with the sating effects of chlorophyll, can aid in a lower calorie meal plan. If you’re prepping for a post-quarantine beach trip, now’s a great time to add wheatgrass to your diet.
- Alkaline: Wheatgrass juice is alkaline, which means it can help balance your internal pH. A lot of the food we eat (dairy, meat, packaged snacks) and beverages we drink (wine, coffee, soda) are highly acidic, which can put our digestive system off-balance and make our bodies less efficient at creating energy. A regular intake of alkaline foods helps balance pH.
Taking a wheatgrass shot is like taking a superfood vitamin. The benefits and nutritional value are incredibly concentrated and far-reaching-it’s like a reset for your body. While the fresh stuff is best, you can also have the powdered supplement on hand if your local farmer’s market has temporarily shut down. Or grow your own! All you need is a small tray of soil and some seeds and you can have your own wheatgrass farm. Now that’s a healthy habit.