The tender stalks of the young wheat plant, known as wheatgrass, usually ignored after extracting the wheat kernels, might just be the next superfood we have been waiting for. While there is no doubt about its nutritious content, the fact that it acts as a panacea to a host of ills, still needs to be researched, say doctors.
Chennai based Sanjaya Kumar, owner, Wheatgrass Stores, says, “A sincere intake of wheatgrass juice over a period of time can help combat cancer.” This, he adds, is apart from its use in fighting paralysis, leukemia, arthritis, insomnia and asthma, among others.
Explaining the science behind this, Dharini Krishnan, consultant dietician says, “Wheatgrass contains a lot of anti-oxidants which help destroy the free radicals in the body. These, if not destroyed, would react with different cells and lead to cancer.” She, however, adds, “Though there is no doubt that it would help, evidence-based studies are required to prove if it can cure.”
Anti-oxidants aka free radical scavengers need to be taken through an external diet to neutralise these radicals. The diet should necessarily include beta-carotene, ico-pene and Vitamins A, C and E.
Kumar says, “All these ingredients, and more, are present in wheatgrass. Beta-carotene, present in the chlorophyll, is an excellent source of Vitamin A. Apart from strengthening one’s immune system, it is said to enhance the production of Ribo Nucliec Acid (RNA), an important molecule, which is essential in renewal of red blood cells, protection from viruses, repair of bones and strengthening of skin and nails.”
But how is it different from the vitamins we get from other food? Kumar clarifies, “Too much of Vitamin A from animals may be toxic, but the body stores any amount of Vitamin A from plants (beta-carotene) until it is needed.” He adds, “Vitamin A and C, which we get from carrot and orange, is almost present in double the amount in wheatgrass.”
Varsha, founder chair, Indian Institute of Nutritional Sciences, while agreeing to wheatgrass juice being a better option than black tea or coffee, insists that there needs to be a lab study. “Yes, wheat has a high iron content which is necessary for hemoglobin. But what about the other factors like folic acid and Vitamin D? Also, when it comes to cancer, there should be some study which says that intake of one tablespoon of wheatgrass for particular number of days would cure it.” She wonders whether such a study is in place. Geetha Jayaram, freelance IT content consultant, vouches for the goodness of wheatgrass for increased hemoglobin level. “I spend nearly 10 hours a day in front of the computer. Regular intake of wheatgrass as a morning drink for four years has helped me to fight fatigue,” says Geetha.
Lab test or not, Kumar has a number of customers, including a cancer patient, who claims to have shown remarkable improvements with the intake of wheatgrass. “Also, I have a customer who is 65 years plus. She has been taking wheatgrass juice for years, her skin glows and she looks nothing above 40,” says Kumar.
With the increase in the blood count, wheatgrass can prove helpful for women during their menstrual period, and also thalassemic and anaemic patients. An increased blood count also means a vigorous circulation to the head and the heart, thereby helping memory and preventing clots, explains Kumar. He grows his wheatgrass in a farmhouse without the use of herbicides, pesticides, or artificial fertilisers. The grass is then dried in the sun and powdered. “The powder can either be mixed with water and drunk, or can even be sprinkled on sandwich, sambar or burger,” says Kumar.
With more protein content than meat or eggs, an ounce of wheatgrass juice is equivalent to two pounds of selective vegetables.
BENEFITS OF WHEATGRASS
Cancer Prevention: A sincere intake of wheatgrass juice over a period of time can help combat cancer.
Anti-oxidant: Wheatgrass contains a lot of anti-oxidants which help destroy the free radicals in the body. These, if not destroyed, would react with different cells and lead to cancer.
Skin Firming: Vitamin A and C, which we get from carrot and orange, are present in double the amount in wheatgrass. Too much of Vitamin A from animals may be toxic, the body can store any amount of Vitamin A from plants (beta carotene) until it is needed.