Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Wheatgrass

Wheatgrass

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Indoor grown wheatgrass grows from 8-14 days before it is harvested.


Wheatgrass is a food prepared from the cotyledons of the common wheat plant, Triticum aestivum. It is sold either as a juice or powder concentrate. Wheatgrass differs from wheat malt in that it is served freeze-dried or fresh, while wheat malt is convectively dried. Wheatgrass is also allowed to grow longer than malt is. It provides chlorophyll, amino acids, minerals, vitamins, and enzymes. Claims about the health benefits of wheatgrass range from providing supplemental nutrition to having unique curative properties. Some consumers grow and juice wheatgrass in their homes. It is often available in juice bars, alone or in mixed fruit or vegetable drinks. It is also available in many health food stores as fresh produce, tablets, frozen juice and powder.



History


The consumption of wheatgrass in the Western world began in the 1930s as a result of experiments conducted by Charles F. Schnabel in his attempts to popularize the plant.[1]

Schnabel, an agricultural chemist, conducted his first experiments with young grasses in 1930, when he used fresh cut grass in an attempt to nurse dying hens back to health. The hens not only recovered, but they produced eggs at a higher rate than healthy hens. Encouraged by his results, he began drying and powdering grass for his family and neighbors to supplement their diets. The following year, Schnabel reproduced his experiment and achieved the same results. Hens consuming rations supplemented with grass doubled their egg production. Schnabel started promoting his discovery to gristmills, chemists and the food industry. Two large corporations, Quaker Oats and American Dairies Inc.[ambiguous], invested millions of dollars in further research, development, and production of grass products for animals and humans. By 1940, cans of Schnabel's powdered grass were on sale in major drug stores throughout the United States and Canada.[2]

Cultivation




Extracting wheatgrass juice with a manual juicing machine.



Outdoor grown wheat grass grows slowly through the winter in a climate like that of Kansas in the United States.


Schnabel's research was conducted with wheatgrass grown outdoors in Kansas. His wheatgrass required 200 days of slow growth, through the winter and early spring, when it was harvested at the jointing stage. It is at this stage that the plant reached its peak nutritional value; after jointing, concentrations of chlorophyll, protein, and vitamins decline sharply.[3] Harvested grass was dehydrated and made into powders and tablets for human and animal consumption. Wheatgrass grown indoors in trays for ten days contains similar nutritional content. Wheatgrass grown outdoors is harvested, dehydrated at a low temperature and sold in tablet and powdered concentrates. Wheat grass juice powder (freshly squeezed with the water removed) is also available either spray-dried or freeze-dried.

Indoor growing and mold


Growing wheat grass indoors usually requires the grass to be grown in small trays with the wheat grains close together for a high yield. Not every wheat seed will sprout. Ungerminated seeds can develop mold which may spread to nearby sprouted plants. This may cause an unpalatable taste and, in extreme cases, an allergic reaction.[4] This issue is not necessarily a problem when growing wheat in a field, due to less crowding of seeds and the resulting improved air circulation.

Usage


The average dosage taken by consumers of wheatgrass is 3.5 grams (powder or tablets). Some also have a fresh-squeezed 30 ml shot once daily or, for more therapeutic benefits,[citation needed] a higher dose up to 2–4 oz (60 - 120 ml) taken 1-3 times per day on an empty stomach and before meals. For detoxification, some users may increase their intake to 3–4 times per day. Consumers with a poor diet may experience nausea on high dosages of wheatgrass[citation needed].

Wheatgrass vs. common vegetables


Wheatgrass proponent Schnabel claimed in the 1940s that "fifteen pounds of wheatgrass is equal in overall nutritional value to 350 pounds of ordinary garden vegetables",[2] a ratio of 1:23.[13] Despite claims of vitamin and mineral content disproportional to other vegetables, the nutrient content of wheatgrass juice is roughly equivalent to that of common vegetables (see table 1).

Wheatgrass is also thought to be superior to other vegetables in its content of Vitamin B12, a vital nutrient. Contrary to popular belief, B12 is not contained within wheat grass or any vegetable, rather it is a byproduct of the microorganisms living on plants.[14] If plants are washed prior to consumption the water soluble B12 will be removed making most plants unreliable sources of B12.[15]

Detoxification


Another common claim for wheatgrass is that it promotes detoxification. The limited data in support of that claim applies to most green vegetables.[16]


  • This page was last modified on 3 March 2011 at 21:15.