(Sometimes the grass is greener on your side!)
Wheatgrass (Triticum Aestivum or Common Wheat) is currently perhaps one of the best known superfoods. It is reported to have outstanding healing properties and exceptional nutritional value.
Its benefits have been known for quite a while – since the 1930s in fact, when Charles F. Schnable fed it to his family during the Great Depression. This was a time in American history when nutritionally significant foods were hard to come by. He noticed that his family was thriving and their health was intact and subsequently decided to document it’s properties. It became a popular addition to healthy diets in the 1970s when Ann Wigmore wrote the first book on how to grow this grass from the humble wheat berry.
What makes wheatgrass special is the concentration of vitamins and minerals that it makes available to the body. It is jam packed with iron; calcium, magnesium, potassium, amino acids and vitamins A, C and E as well as Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid.
This abundance of vitamins and minerals led to wheatgrass being credited with the ability to increase stamina – a shot of wheatgrass is touted to have the invigorating effects of an espresso without the jittery side-effects. It is believed by many to boost the immune system protecting our organism from disease.
Moreover it has a high chlorophyll content making it a useful addition to detoxifying regimes which aim at cleansing the liver and other internal organs.
It can help to reduce the damaging effects of toxic radiation and heavy metals absorbed from the environment thanks to the presence of the anti-inflammatory enzymes called Superoxide Disumates or SOD.
Similarly wheatgrass seems to be able to oxygenate the blood, mimicking the function of hemoglobin. For this reason it has been used in alternative treatments of anemia and cancers.
Wheatgrass is said to reduce over-acidity, rids the intestines of damaging bacteria and relieves peptic ulcers, constipation. In fact it is used to treat a range of gastrointestinal complaints.
Claims have also been made for its anti-aging properties and skin enhancing effects. Wheatgrass is said to help to control acne and improve the texture of blemished skin. in fact it can be used in face masks and is often blended with honey or lemon juice.
Moreover it is incredibly easy to grow at home. It can be juiced, blended into green drinks and added to salads and can also be included in your favorite pesto recipe in small quantities without significantly altering the taste. It is also widely available as a supplement form and as wheatgrass powder.
Having said that, mainstream scientists point out that research on the benefits of wheatgrass is insufficient and trials are, so far, inconclusive. So, as often happens with superfoods, the jury is, technically, still out on this one!
Rule of thumb
- Wheatgrass can be a useful addition to your diet and many feel that a shot of wheatgrass juice does wonders to enhance their sense of well-being. However it should not replace the variety of vegetables and fruits which are necessary to the body to maintain a healthy nutritional balance. Our bodies need a little of all that is good to function and thrive.
- If you are pregnant or lactating it might be best to avoid wheatgrass since its effects in these circumstances are not well documented. Similarly if you have a wheat allergy, coeliac disease or gluten intolerance it is best to proceed with caution.
- If you are interested in growing your own wheatgrass you should know that is exceptionally easy to grow.
- It is normally harvested at the ‘jointing stage’ – about a week after germination. This period is when many of the plants nutrients reach their peak.
- Typically you could regrow and harvest the same batch a second time before discarding.
- Some home-growers report the appearance of molds at the base of the grass. This can be avoided by growing your crop in a well-ventilated place where humidity is low. You can also try using less seed per growing tray so that the grass does not grow too dense trapping moisture which could encourage mold formation.
You can buy good quality Organic Wheatgrass Powder here http://www.soapcafemalta.com/. Simply add a small amount of powder to your daily green drink or smoothie.
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