Think back to the heyday of Jamba Juice in the early aughts. Sure, the smoothie chain offered the classic Strawberry Surfrider and Orange Dream Machine, but stalks of something greener lined every juice counter back then.
That green stuff resembling a lawn is actually grass: wheatgrass. This superfood—technically the young shoots of the wheat plant—first became popular in the 1970s, when early supporters said it was so nutrient-packed that an ounce could replace up to two pounds of vegetables.
Though the science doesn’t quite back up that claim, wheatgrass is incredibly nutritious. This plant contains iron, calcium, magnesium, amino acids, and vitamins A, C, and E, which explains why shots of wheatgrass juice caught on as an immune booster.
But beyond it’s nutritional profile, is wheatgrass really the miracle ingredient juicers would have you believe? Some small, preliminary studies have indicated that wheatgrass could help soothe inflammation in patients with ulcerative colitis, and potentially improve the condition of those with blood disorders. Other than those findings, however, very little research has been conducted on wheatgrass.
There’s another big caveat—wheatgrass might be very problematic for anyone who’s gluten-free. Check with a doctor before trying wheatgrass if grasses trigger your seasonal allergies, if you’re gluten intolerant, or if you have Celiac disease. Because wheatgrass is essentially young shoots of the wheat plant, it could cause a reaction in people allergic to wheat. Pregnant women should also avoid raw wheatgrass, as it comes with a high risk of soil or mold contamination.
Think a little more green stuff can’t hurt? Then go ahead and try wheatgrass—just don’t substitute all the other fruits and vegetables you’re eating for it. If you don’t want to grow your own, or if you’re not a huge fan of the taste, no big deal. Wheatgrass comes in freeze-dried powders, which is easy to add to drinks, and tablets, too. As part of a healthy, produce-rich diet, there’s no reason not to enjoy a wheatgrass shot now and then.
Photo credit: Trinette Reid via Stocksy
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