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The Healthiest Grasses You Could Possibly Eat (Hint: Not Your Lawn)

People have been interested in the health benefits of green cereal grasses, the kind that will one day sprout into grains used to make cereal, since the 1930s. It was around this time when it was discovered that cows that didn't eat enough of these green grasses produced milk that was less nutritious, spurring scientists to look at these grasses' effects in humans.

Green grasses are a highly nutritious source of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, chlorophyll and more, yet few Americans take advantage of their health-promoting benefits.

Today, it's known that green cereal grasses contain beta-carotene, vitamins K and C, folic acid, calcium, iron, protein, fiber, chlorophyll and many of the B vitamins. You can find many varieties of them in health food stores, ranging from powders to caplets, or you can get a not-so-great-tasting "shot" of one (usually wheat grass) in juice bars. The healthiest grasses you can eat are barley grass, alfalfa grass, oat grass and wheat grass.

Although the mechanisms by which these grasses promote health are not known at this time, they've been said to fight and prevent cancer, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, boost the immune system, speed wound healing, promote good digestion and healthy skin, detoxify pollutants from the body and protect against the damaging effects of radiation.

Some of these positive effects may be due to the grasses' high chlorophyll content, as chlorophyll is remarkably similar to hemoglobin, the human molecule that moves oxygen through the blood.

Barley Grass: This is "the" healthiest of the healthy green grasses. It's rich in chlorophyll, which has antimutagenic and anticarcinogenic properties, and enzymes, which the body needs to perform a variety of important chemical reactions, including those that control the body's digestive processes. Enzymes also provide potent antioxidant effects and energy for cells.

Dr. Yoshihide Hagiwara, M.D., who was one of the leading experts on green barley, said green barley might contain thousands of active enzymes, including superoxide dismutase (SOD), which helps to detoxify the body and maintain healthy joints.

The juice from barley grass contains (per 100 grams) 11 times more calcium than cow's milk, five times more iron than spinach and seven times more vitamin C than oranges.

Alfalfa Grass: This is a protein-rich superfood that contains eight essential amino acids along with vitamins A, B, C, D, E and B12, calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, chlorophyll and numerous trace elements. Alfalfa may help to maintain healthy cells, reduce tissue damage from radiation exposure, and neutralize acidity in the body, which helps to maintain a healthy bladder and urinary tract.

Oat Grass: Like the other cereal grasses, oat grass contains beta-carotene, vitamins K and C, folic acid, calcium, iron, protein, fiber and B vitamins.

Wheat Grass: This grass, common in juice bars, is a balanced source of nutrition. It contains high levels of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, protein, enzymes, chlorophyll and mucopolysaccharides. Further, it's known to be highly alkalizing to the body and helps with detoxification.

How to Eat Grasses

You could, theoretically, grow your own grasses from seeds and eat them like a leafy green. However, they're not particularly palatable, and you would need to eat large amounts to get high levels of nutrients. For this reason, grasses are either juiced and taken in shots or as part of a green vegetable juice, or consumed as a powder or pill form.

Recommended Reading

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Six Disease-Fighting Super Antioxidants You are Likely Not Getting Enough Of


Amazing Grass

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Wheatgrass and Other Cereal Grains

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