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Wheatgrass: detox tonic or just juice?

The discoveries in the 1930s by US chemist Charles Schnabel, dubbed 'Mr Wheatgrass', have inspired a body of scientific research into wheatgrass that continues to this day.

If you believe the hype, wheatgrass has a higher nutritional content than any other vegetable, protects against inflammation, builds red blood cells and improves circulation.

Wheatgrass contains chlorophyll, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, iron, calcium and magnesium.

We've teamed up with the British Dietetic Association (BDA) to examine whether the host of health claims made about wheatgrass stand up to closer scrutiny.

Wheatgrass contains chlorophyll, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin E, iron, calcium and magnesium

The evidence on wheatgrass

Nutrition claims for wheatgrass

Despite claims that a 30ml (1oz) shot of wheatgrass contains as many nutrients as 1kg (2.2lbs) of your finest veggies, tests show that, pound for pound, the nutrient content of wheatgrass juice is roughly equivalent to that of common vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli. 

Can drinking wheatgrass boost red blood cell production?

Fans of wheatgrass believe that because chlorophyll and haemoglobin (a protein that carries oxygen around your body) are similar in structure, taking wheatgrass juice enhances haemoglobin production. But as far as evidence goes, there is no scientific proof to support this claim.

Does wheatgrass salve inflammation of the colon?

small study from 2002 found patients with ulcerative colitis (inflammation of the colon) saw their symptoms improve after they were given 100ml of wheatgrass juice daily for a month. However, the study involved only 21 people and the positive results could have been simply down to chance. As such, the evidence is inconclusive. 

Can wheatgrass help people with blood disorders?

A small study from 2004 of 32 patients with a blood disorder called thalassaemia found half of the patients required fewer blood transfusions when 100ml (3.5oz) of wheatgrass juice was taken daily for three years. While interesting, the research has many weaknesses and further research is needed before these findings can be properly validated. 

The dietitian's verdict on wheatgrass

Alison Hornby, a dietitian and BDA spokesperson, says: "There is no sound evidence to support the claim that wheatgrass is better than other fruits and vegetables in terms of nutrition. It cannot be recommended above any other choices in this food group. 

"Although it contributes towards your recommended daily intake of fruit and veg, a single shot of wheatgrass doesn't count as one of your 5 A DAY. But if you're a big fan, you could combine a shot with a fruit or veg smoothie."

More on superfoods

Check out the evidence behind the health claims made about these other so-called superfoods:

Page last reviewed: 26/08/2015

Next review due: 26/08/2017

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Comments

The 3 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

mxmx701 said on 16 March 2015

Is clear that a big drug store have paid for this bad review. Wheatgrass juice is a superfood and is full of goodness.

I have tried this by my self and I can confirmed what I says.

2OZ of wheatgrass juice have about the same nutrition of 4Lb of the best organic green vegetables. If they was not the same equivalence why do you think you get high or get nausea after drinking too much wheatgrass juice or green vegetable juice ? Is because both of them are full of nutrition and our body will adsorb all that goodness so fast than is too it get high with the high level of nutrition when you drink too much.

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thomasjwoods said on 10 March 2015

I couldn't agree more with the comment from zakhb. Why does the NHS have to discredit something that is clearly full of goodness?!

Wheatgrass is a good source of potassium, a very good source of dietary fibre, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, iron, zinc, copper, manganese and selenium!

It's surely better than any drugs (along, of course with a balanced healthy diet and lifestyle), but of course we wouldn't want to make big pharma out of pocket...

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zakhb said on 04 March 2015

I'm disgusted by this site. Rather than highlighting the benifits of these superfoods, the nhs are really dulling down natures finest medicines!!! They are protecting the huge pharmicuitical industry by keeping us fat, stupid and prone to cancer. Eat organic veg and less meat for a healthy lifestyle!!!

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Superfoods: the evidence

We examine the evidence behind the health claims made about the most popular superfoods