Can You Eat Wheatgrass Raw?

People have a lot of questions about wheatgrass. One of them that I've been hearing a lot lately is about whether you can eat wheatgrass raw. While most people generally agree that it would pretty much kill the nutrients in wheatgrass if you cooked them, people still ask that question. I think what they really mean is whether or not you can simply eat the wheatgrass straight, without juicing it. The answer is yes, but there are some things you should know. As I have previously stated in this post about eating wheatgrass, it is possible, but there are some things to keep in mind.
First, human stomachs are a lot different than those of cows and horses.  Hoofed animals have stomachs that have evolved to break up and digest grasses.  Our stomachs, on the other hand, just aren't capable of breaking apart the cellulose in wheatgrass, so it just comes out the other end of our bodies looking very similar to how it went in.  You see, wheatgrass is different from other plants that we can digest, such as broccoli and spinach.  Our stomachs can break down the cellulose in those plants and extract the yummy nutrients.  The best way to get the most out of wheatgrass is to juice it with a masticating juicer.  You can get a cheap manual wheatgrass juicer for only $40 or so.
Take a Look at Good Wheatgrass Juicers Here on Amazon

If you don't have one of these juicers yet, here is what you can do:
  1. Grab yourself a handful of wheatgrass that has been cut just above the roots.  
  2. Insert wheatgrass into your mouth.
  3. Chew on the grass in your mouth while sucking out the juice and swallowing it. (this can take quite some time)
  4. Spit out the dried wad of wheatgrass and repeat if your jaw is strong enough to handle more!

Yes, You Can Eat Wheatgrass

I'm still amazed at the number of people who try to eat wheatgrass. I just saw a YouTube video of a guy munching on a mouthful of wheatgrass. While it is true that you can eat wheatgrass, it definitely isn't the best or most efficient way to get the nutrients out of the stuff. If you want to give it a go, put a handful of wheatgrass in your mouth, chew on it and swallow the juice, and then spit out the spent, dry leftover grass. Of course, the easier way to get way more juice out of it is to get yourself a wheatgrass juicer (starting at around $50) and drink a cool shot of wheatgrass juice.

Easy And Convenient Sprouters

I just discovered that there are an abundance of very inexpensive sprouters available these days, which make it simple to grow your own alfalfa, broccoli, clover, beans, and lots of other sprouts. Although wheatgrass usually has to grow in soil, it can also be grown in Vermiculite, which eliminates the need for soil. You can grow the trays right in your kitchen window easily and cleanly this way.

Here are a couple of the cheap sprouters you buy:

Wheatgrass and Your Teeth

I just read an article saying that making wheatgrass juice and gargling it will relieve a toothache. I've never tried it, mostly because I never get toothaches, but if I did,I would surely give it a go. I'm not sure how this is supposed to work, but if anybody out there can vouch for it, let me know. Here is the article:

Expert Opinion on Wheatgrass

A couple of weeks ago, I went to hear a talk by Michael Greger, MD, who is an internationally recognized expert on nutrition and health issues. He reads through every scientific study on food that he can get his hands on, and shares his findings. Surprised by some foods that I thought were healthy, but showed up as harmful in the latest studies, I specifically asked him about wheatgrass. His answer was that it definitely was healthy to drink wheatgrass juice, but that it was just as healthy to drink a shot of juiced kale instead. He says that the more green leafy vegetables we eat the healthier we are, and since wheatgrass is essentially a leaf, then it is good for us. If you want to take a look at Dr. Greger's website, here it is. My take on all this is that since I don't usually eat any vegetables before lunchtime, wheatgrass juice is a good way to sneak in a few extra servings of the green leafy stuff into my diet in the morning without having to even chew.

Can you eat wheatgrass? Take two

I just got another comment from someone saying that they are putting straight wheatgrass into the blender with other smoothie ingredients and just blending it and eating it. Will this work? Yes and No. Of course, you can do this, and it will chop the grass into small pieces and you can drink it, but you still have one fundamental problem, which is:

Human stomachs can't break down the fibers in straight wheatgrass. You can eat/drink it, but you will just poop it out later. The extra fiber might be good for you, but you won't be getting very much of the nutritional benefits of the wheatgrass this way.

This is why people juice it. The juicer mechanically separates the juice from the undigestible fiber. I HIGHLY recommend juicing the wheatgrass before consuming it. I think some people just toss the grass into the blender because they don't have a juicer! If you don't have a juicer yet, it is a great investment that will only set you back $45 or so if you want the cheapest manual kind, or $150 + for a fancy electric one. Take a look here at the many juicers available to buy.
After you have juiced the wheatgrass, you can easily mix the juice into the blender with whatever you are juicing, and it will work great. This is wonderful for the many people who just can't stomach straight wheatgrass juice. It can be strong stuff!

Growing Wheatgrass: It's all about the weather

After trying to grow wheatgrass for years in different climates and seasons, the one thing that seems to affect the outcome of your wheatgrass the most is the weather. Unless you are growing indoors under grow-lights in a temperature-controlled environment, you are pretty much at the mercy of mother nature. Wheatgrass really thrives in temperatures between 50-80 degrees Fahrenheit (10-25 C). Any colder than this range, and the grass grows painfully slow or freezes. When it gets hotter than 80 F., it grows fast, and then starts to wilt and the top will turn yellow really quickly.
If you live in a place with a cold winter, you can grow it next to a big window, but you will probably have to shine a grow light on it since you won't have enough hours of daylight for the grass to grow well. Buying a growlight is a cheap solution to this problem.
If you live in a hot place, it gets a little trickier. If you have air-conditioning in your house, you can grow it inside next to the window and it will do great. If not, you can try setting up a fan to blow on it during the day to keep it cooler.
If worse comes to worse, you might have to take a couple of months off during the heat of the summer. I've had to do this a few times, since it gets brutally hot where I live in the summer and I can't leave the AC on all the time. If you can't grow it don't worry though. You can always buy the grass from someone else, or take some of the many super green supplements available.

Should I Take Wheatgrass Juice or Pills?

I've recently been asked about the little green pills of dried wheatgrass, and how they stand up to freshly squeezed wheatgrass juice. I guess the answer depends on who you ask. According to nearly all wheatgrass aficionados I know, the fresh stuff is always better than frozen, dried, or bottled wheatgrass. Many experts claim that some of the key nutrients present in wheatgrass juice deteriorate rapidly just after juicing, so they claim that it is best to drink it within minutes of juicing.

Yet according to the company that sells the wheatgrass pills, their stuff is nutritionally superior to the fresh pressed juice. This in turn makes it tough to tell who is right. Personally, I prefer the fresh juice. I normally drink about 4 ounces each morning, which would be equivalent to 28 of their pills. Since I grow it myself, the cost is minimal -- only a few cents per shot, but even if you buy this big bottle of 500 wheatgrass pills, this amount works out to $1.79 for the same amount (28 pills), or 45 cents per shot. Yes, this is still much cheaper than buying shots at the juice bar at $2 a pop, but I guess the real question is whether it is as good for your body. The next time I go for a trip I will try chomping down on wheatgrass pills for a week and report back on the results.

My recommendation: If you have the time and enjoy growing and juicing wheatgrass yourself, do that. If you really don't have any time to juice wheatgrass yourself, or are travelling, wheatgrass or barley grass tablets would be make a fine choice.

The Wheatgrass pick-me-up and other energy boosters

Enduring a groggy morning or the mid-afternoon energy sag is a daily occurrence for many people. Many people claim that drinking some wheatgrass juice first thing in the morning enables them to forgo their cup of coffee. Although there seems to be little scientific evidence so far on wheatgrass juice, I have heard countless people say that wheatgrass juice in fact does give them a boost of energy. What causes this energy boost? We all know that coffee, tea, cola, and chocolate contain caffeine, which is known to provide an energy kick, but what does wheatgrass have? Some think that it has to do with the raw, simple way that your body can absorb and put the nutrients present in wheatgrass juice to work right after you drink it. Many foods require your body to work quite hard to get the nutrients out of the food, but wheatgrass juice is one of the simplest things to digest.  In addition, wheatgrass is considered an alkaline food, and consuming an alkaline diet helps to balance the body's pH. By drinking wheatgrass and other green alkaline drinks, you are giving your body to achieve optimum performance.
Wheatgrass juice definitely isn't the only option for that energy booster though. Here are a few more ways to get you through your days:
  1. Exercise -- When you exercise and breathe hard, oxygen is sent rushing throughout your body, giving you an energy boost. Even a few minutes will make a big difference. Can't go outside? Walk or run up the stairs.
  2. Drink tea -- Tea has a lot less caffeine in it than coffee, and it contains lots of anti-oxidants. Natural tea is a great drink that can boost energy levels.
  3. Go outside -- Your body is designed to be alert during the day and sleeping at night. If you are stuck indoors all day, your body will naturally start to feel drowsy because you aren't in the sunlight. Solution: get outside for a short break anytime you can, and lift up the shades in your office. If you can't do any of these, get a "daylight" light bulb which mimics sunlight. This one by philips only costs $3.99 This method also works well for people who need to work at night.
  4. Eat right -- Your body performs best when it is given the right kinds of food. Human bodies thrive on things that are fresh, so eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. For an afternoon snack, bring some fruit to work.
  5. Get enough sleep -- Everyone knows this one, but for lots of people, this is the main reason why they feel drowsy during the day. If you aren't sleeping for 7-9 hours a night, you will naturally feel tired. Do whatever it takes to make sure you can get to bed early enough to get your sleep, and you will enjoy your days a lot more!

Metal or Plastic? Which Manual Wheatgrass Juicer is Better?

If you are going to buy a manual wheatgrass juicer, you pretty much have two choices -- metal or plastic. Most people just starting out with wheatgrass tend to go for the plastic juicer like this one:
Yes, the plastic one is cheaper-- only 43 bucks, but if you are serious about wheatgrass, I would suggest you fork over double the price for a stainless steel juicer like this one:

The stainless steel juicer is much better for two big reasons: First, it is almost impossible to break. You can shove a whole handful of wheatgrass into it and really crank on the thing and it won't break. You will break your table before you break the juicer. With the plastic juicer, I was always afraid that I would break the handle off if I wrenched on it too hard.
The second reason why the metal one is better is because you can squeeze a lot more juice out of the wheatgrass. I have used both kinds, and I can get about 30% more juice from the same amount of wheatgrass using the stainless steel juicer. The reason why you can get more juice is because you can put the pulp in a second time and squeeze out a bunch more juice. When I tried to put the pulp back into the plastic juicer a second time, it felt like the juicer was going to break and it wouldn't turn. This works out to a whole lot more juice per tray if you use the hurricane juicer.

Does Wheatgrass Juice Contain Gluten?

Some people are gluten intolerant, which means they can't eat many foods that contain gluten, including wheat and barley. Does this mean that people who can't eat gluten should not drink wheatgrass juice? Luckily, most of these people can drink wheatgrass juice. The reason why wheatgrass juice is OK is because it is cut when it is still very young -- only at 6-10 inches tall and about 10 days old. In this stage, the grass does not contain any gluten. Even most people who are allergic to wheat can still drink wheatgrass juice, because they are usually allergic to the gluten in the wheat kernel. The gluten is present in the wheat kernel (seed), after the wheat plant has grown for a long time and is ready to be harvested.

It is worth stating here that although every wheatgrass source I have ever come across says that wheatgrass juice is gluten free, wheatgrass does show up on this really, really long list of foods that may contain gluten. It has wheatgrass on the list, but interestingly does not say wheatgrass juice. If you are a celiac (cannot consume gluten), check with your doctor first before drinking wheatgrass juice just in case.

A Nutritional Data Analysis of Wheatgrass Juice

I just finished reading a post by one of the wheatgrass skeptics--a person who claims wheatgrass juice is completely bogus. One of his reasons is that by looking at the nutritional data provided by Jamba Juice, it seems as though wheatgrass juice is little more than water with green coloring. But digging a little deeper, it becomes apparent that Jamba Juice didn't bother to spend much time to find the nutritional data at all. Take a look at this website that provides the nutritional data of a 1 oz shot of wheatgrass from Jamba Juice. Notice a lot of missing info? All of those squiggly marks (~~~) show that Jamba Juice didn't provide that information. It does NOT mean that wheatgrass juice doesn't contain any of these nutrients!!! It means that the nutritional DATA is incomplete.
I did a little research (not very intense) and found a more complete source of information. The following nutritional data is for 100g of wheatgrass juice and is provided by Irvine Analytical Laboratories, Inc.

Calories 21.0 Cal
Carbohydrates 2.0 g
Fat 0.06 g
Water 95 g
Sodium 10.3 mg
Iron 0.61 mg
Folic Acid 29 mcg
Dietary Fiber < class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_15">IU
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) 0.08 mg
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.13 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide) 0.11 mg
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 6.0 mg
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine HCI) 0.2 mg
Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin) < class="blsp-spelling-error" id="SPELLING_ERROR_21">mcg
Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) 3.65 mg
Vitamin E 15.2 IU
Chlorophyll 42.2 mg
Choline 92.4 mg

You should also be aware that the nutritional properties of wheatgrass can vary depending on a factors including growing conditions, soil quality, when it is harvested, etc.

Already Growing Wheatgrass? Grow Buckwheat Lettuce Too!

If you are already growing Wheatgrass at home, you should try to grow buckwheat as well. You don't need to buy anything else except the buckwheat seeds, and it grows pretty much the same way as wheatgrass. Here's what you need to do to grow easy buckwheat lettuce:

  1. Soak the seeds for 10-12 hours.
  2. Drain the water out and pre-sprout them the same way as you grow wheatgrass. If you haven't grown wheatgrass, take a look at these instructions.
  3. Rinse the buckwheat seeds twice a day, until little roots come out--usually after 1 day
  4. Put the seeds on soil just like you do with wheatgrass. Water twice a day, and after a week or so, they will be 4-6 inches tall and ready to eat. Cut them just above the roots and they are good to go.

Ready to eat Buckwheat Greens

Unhulled Hulled Buckwheat Seeds

Hulled Buckwheat Seeds

Buckwheat greens are great raw in salads, or you can juice them or toss them in with other things in the blender.  People have known about their health secrets for a long time. You can also add them to other healthy recipes like salads to make them even better.
*** Make sure you buy the Unhulled buckwheat seeds to grow this way. (see pictures above)***
You can also sprout hulled buckwheat seeds and eat the sprouts when they are an inch or so long. You don't plant this kind in the soil. Good Luck!

Wheatgrass for healthy skin

We mostly hear about wheatgrass juice as something to drink, but it can also be great to keep your skin healthy. One such skin condition that wheatgrass can help is acne.  Millions of people around the world have acne, and there is strong evidence that three is a connection between the food that we eat and the amount of acne that is on our skin.  I am convinced that drinking wheatgrass juice as part of a healthy living regimen can reduce acne. Although most physicians are quick to dismiss remedies that aren't pharmaceutical, many people have used wheatgrass to treat acne with great successs.  Skin care companies know about the healing properties of wheatgrass as well.  You can buy skin creams that contain wheatgrass as a major ingredient.  For more information, take a look at this great site about home remedies for acne.

Not all doctors dismiss wheatgrass and other home remedies though.  There is a doctor in Australia who has treated over 30,000 patients with skin problems. He is absolutely convinced that wheatgrass can heal skin problems like excema, wound healing, post-laser surgery, on skin grafts, and applied to burns.

Here is what he has to say:

"Based on comprehensive scientific evidence and my own numerous clinical observations (>25,000) since 1995, wheatgrass and other cereal grasses appear to be capable of stimulating the activity of human growth factors. This process in turn facilitates the natural healing process in hemostasis and hemolysis, wound healing, fracture healing, inflammation and numerous other situations." Dr. Chris Reynolds. M.B.,B.S.

You can read loads of information about the beneficial properties of wheatgrass at his website, which can be found here.

The story of Kamut

Anybody who shops in health food stores has undoubtedly come across the word "Kamut"
in everything from bread to spaghetti to cereal. For those of you who don't know what Kamut is, this posts for you. From what I have managed to dig up, Kamut is an ancient type of wheat. Some say that a handful of Kamut berries were taken from a thousands of years old tomb in Egypt, and others say that they got it from Egyptian farmers who were still using traditional grains. Regardless of where it was first found, it isn't a hybrid, like pretty much all of the other kinds of wheat that is grown throughout the world today. It is also much bigger--about 3 times the size of normal wheat kernels.
Naturally, I wondered if you could grow Kamut grass and juice it. Although at the moment I don't have a way to get my hands on any of the seeds since I am in Asia, I have discovered that a few people do indeed grow and juice the stuff. Apparently, it pretty much grows the same way as wheatgrass. And the good news is that if you buy genuine Kamut, it is always organic, and non-GMO. I have also found out that Kamut is a bit higher in many amino acids and other nutrients than most other forms of wheat. When I back to the USA, I will give it a go and report on how it works.
If you want more information on Kamut, check out their website. To see all of the various Kamut products, take a look here.