Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Wheatgrass: the truth behind all the hype

By SONA PARMAR
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The number of people asking about wheatgrass in the last few months has grown exponentially and one advertisement even uses a quote from Benjamin Franklin: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Powerful words, but do they hold true?

Looking for the answer, many head to the internet only to be inundated with words like ‘chlorophyll’ and ‘liver purification’, not to mention all the ailments it can supposedly cure. And all from a little cup of dark green juice!

Let me start with what wheatgrass is. Wheatgrass is actually a cereal grass, and cereal grasses have the same nutrient profile as a dark green vegetable or ‘green food’.

‘Green foods’ are among the richest natural sources of chlorophyll and anti-oxidants. Chlorophyll is the stuff that makes plants green and it’s highly cleansing, alkalising and full of minerals, especially magnesium.

Anti-oxidants work to stop the body from oxidising, much the same way that oil stops parts of a car from rusting.

The more anti-oxidants we have in our bodies, the faster the free radicals (the baddies) can be safely de-activated. Left to their own devices, free radicals can cause cell mutation, artery damage, skin wrinkling and other signs of ageing.

So, anti-oxidants and chlorophyll are definitely a health-promoting influence.

Due to the way it’s grown (a process called sprouting), wheatgrass sprouts are what are known as ‘complete foods’ – not only are they full of goodness, but they also contain the enzymes needed to assimilate them in the body.

That is why they are easily digested and enter the bloodstream quickly (the nutrients in wheatgrass juice are completely absorbed by the human body in 20 minutes).

Wheatgrass also contains hundreds of vital nutrients such as the P4D1 and superoxide dismutase, which are anti-oxidants, anti-inflammatories and anti-cancer factors.

So there is no doubt that the nutrients found in wheatgrass juice benefit the blood cells, bones, muscles and other body parts. In addition, its detoxifying action protects the lungs and blood from air and water pollution, cigarette smoke, toxins and heavy metals.

But does that mean you should be taking it?

While wheatgrass is indeed beneficial, taking a regular shot of it can get expensive. It often makes more sense to eat a large variety of fruits and vegetables on a regular basis than to eat poorly most of the time and then consume a shot of wheatgrass every so often!

The fresh ‘super’ foods that are easily available here are:

  • Carrots, sweet potato, and peas – rich in carotenoids as well as other nutrients
  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, sukuma wiki (kale), radish and turnip – the anti-cancer cruciferous vegetables
  • Garlic – cholesterol- and blood pressure-lowering, anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties
  • Nuts and seeds – rich source of essential fats, vitamin E and many minerals
  • Watermelon – full of anti-oxidants vitamin C and lycopene.
  • Some might say, “Forget wheatgrass, you can’t beat a carrot/slice of watermelon/clove of garlic a day!”
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