Wheat grass is the face of “radical” health in the green foods movement. Many claim that enormous benefits can be found through taking wheat grass supplements or freshly squeezed shots. The claims come not just from companies or resellers but people who happily embrace the juicing and raw food lifestyle. People really believe in the power of the wheat grass.
What does science have to say about many of these claims though? Are there research studies available that can substantiated these claims?
Common Claims Versus Research Studies
It is commonly claimed that wheat grass is good for the following:
- blood flow
- cancer prevention
What does the research say?
Unfortunately, there is little scientific backing to these points in a general sense but there are some specifics we are happy to see backed up, particularly in regards to cancer.
Here’s a look at what we do know about wheat grass and health.
Research into wheat grass and cancer is promising. The Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center has done a study showing benefits in taking wheat grass juice for patients with ulcerative colitis, leading to a decrease in “overall disease activity”, and in particularly, a decrease in rectal bleeding. Another study (done elsewhere) involved breast cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. These patients took daily wheat grass shots and the results were a decreased need for medications for blood and bone marrow building during chemotherapy. (Source)
Additionally, we know that diets with large amounts of chlorophyll are more resistant to developing colon cancer. Wheat grass indeed contains high amounts of chlorophyll, so in this sense it is a cancer fighting supplement.
Claims involving eye sight, digestion, blood flow, and detoxification seem to have little scientific backing. Perhaps there is something to it, but right now there has not been enough research into these areas to make the claims on anything but personal or anecdotal evidence.
Finally, it’s worth noting that many of these claims are connected to another commonly cited feature of wheat grass and that is that it contains more vitamins and minerals than almost any other vegetable. This is actually not true. An examination of the mineral and vitamin content of wheat grass compared to broccoli and spinach shows a rather normal range of nutrients. There are many great vegetable juices to choose from.
If you have an interest in health but also in science and making wise decisions for your health based more on evidence than anything else, you’ll enjoy my critical article looking at what machines make the best food processor and juicer combo. I like to cut through the hype and get to the heart of matter when it comes to juicing, raw foods, and getting the most benefit from our diets and I hope you’ll join me!