When you hear somebody talking about grass, you’d probably assume they were talking about their lawn, or if it were the 70s, possibly a different type of grass… Now though, there is a third type of grass that is brought up in conversation, oftentimes at a gym, juice shop, or health club. We are talking about wheatgrass! And grasses like wheatgrass, such as barley grass, alfalfa grass and other nutritious grasses. If you aren’t big on salads and other leafy greens, another easy way to get your greens is by drinking them.
Many studies over the years have shown that green foods have marked beneficial effects on cholesterol, blood pressure, and immune response. Nutritionally, green foods, grasses, to be exact, are close cousins to dark leafy vegetables, and offer far greater levels of nutrient density. In other words, an ounce of these concentrated green foods contains much more of the beneficial phytonutrients that are found in an ounce of green leafy vegetables1.
Get to Know Your Grasses
If dark leafy greens aren’t making a regular appearance on your dinner plate, you may want to become familiar with the following grasses:
Barley Grass: Boasting an array of antioxidants, barley was the very first cereal grain ever cultivated by humans, dating back to 7000 BC. Along with vitamins A,C,E, beta-carotene, and B vitamins, barley grass is a rich source of potassium, calcium, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium. Barley grass also provides chlorophyll, amino acids, protein, fiber, and enzymes. Most importantly, barley grass is a source of superoxide dismutase (SOD), a critical enzyme that helps neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals.
According to a recent report in the journal Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, barley grass has numerous health benefits. It is a natural detoxifier that protects the liver. It also supports healthy blood pressure, enhances immunity, improves digestive health, has blood glucose supporting effects, promotes cardiovascular health, improves cognition, lessens fatigue, and acts as an anti-inflammatory2. Many of these actions may be due to barley grass’ ability to tip the body’s balance towards alkalinity. Because it benefits the body on so many fronts, barley grass is considered an exceptional superfood.
Wheat grass: This juice bar staple is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and E, as well as iron, magnesium, calcium, and amino acids. Among its 17 amino acids, 8 are considered essential, meaning your body can’t produce them – they must come from your diet. Wheatgrass is a powerful source of glutathione, known as the “master” antioxidant. It’s little wonder that preliminary research has found that wheatgrass reduces oxidative damage to cells. Other studies suggest that wheatgrass may support healthy cholesterol levels, aid in balancing blood sugar, counter an inappropriate inflammatory response, and induce the destruction of damaged or abnormal cells3. Like barley grass, wheatgrass is a powerful alkalinizing agent that supports balanced pH.
Alfalfa grass: Alfalfa is a type of grass that has been grown and used as feed for livestock for hundreds of years. It was long prized for its superior content of vitamins, minerals, and protein, compared to other feed sources. In addition to being used as feed, it also has a long history of use in a nutritional capacity for humans. Alfalfa is high in vitamin K and also contains many other nutritious ingredients like vitamin C, copper, manganese folate, and even plant compounds like flavonoids, saponins, and phytosterols. It has also been shown to lower cholesterol levels in both animals and humans. The effect is attributed to the high content of saponins, which are plant compounds known to lower cholesterol levels. They do this by decreasing absorption of cholesterol in the gut and increasing the excretion of compounds used to create new cholesterol4.
These nutritional grasses are ready to give you a steady stream of nutrients and keep you strong and powerful throughout the day. Try adding some to your daily smoothie or green drink!