Many people are surprised that when they ask “Is wheat grass gluten free?” the answer is actually “yes.” But there’s a major caveat—it is gluten-free but only if the manufacturer follows rigid harvesting, handling, and processing guidelines. That’s true for wheat grass and its cousin barley grass. The process is the only thing that can guarantee those two superfoods are truly “gluten free.”
wheat grass products, including juice, powder, and capsules, are created, in part, from the wheat plant.
Wheat grass is the young grass of a wheat plant, and it boasts a texture that resembles hay and a bright green color.
If you are on a gluten-free diet, you should have no trouble with wheat grass, as long as it’s high quality.
To break it down, consider that wheat grass is gluten free when the manufacturer uses a precise harvesting method that removes the gluten-filled seed or grain from the young grasses. That’s difficult, however.
The process requires the manufacturer to carefully track the proper planting and harvesting of the wheat grass. The wheat grass must be cultivated during the fall months and then harvested in the early spring. That’s when it has grown about 8–10 inches high and has reached its nutritional peak.
Fall cultivation and spring harvest may sound simple until you understand the short timeframe in which the wheat grass is viable. There is only a window of 7 to 10 days to harvest the grass, because that’s when the seeds on the plant that contain the gluten are close to the ground. When they are that low, the harvesting machines can’t gather them.
As difficult as it is to cultivate and harvest this plant properly, handling and processing is equally challenging for manufacturers that create gluten-free products including wheat grass powder, capsules, and juice.
The risk of cross contamination is a serious concern. That occurs when gluten-free and non-gluten-free foods are in contact. That can happen in many ways during processing. One way is when manufacturers don’t clean surfaces when placing gluten-free food on surfaces that previously held foods with gluten proteins. Cross contamination can also occur when manufacturers use the same utensils for gluten and gluten-free foods.
Some people follow a gluten-free diet because they report that it makes them feel healthier. In this case, an instance like cross contamination wouldn’t necessarily be dangerous.
There is a caveat to this. Researchers at Harvard Medical School advise anyone avoiding foods that contain gluten to check with their physicians before doing so. The main reason is that a gluten-free diet can make it difficult to diagnose celiac disease.
It’s essential for those with celiac disease not to eat gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Celiac disease is an immune response in the small intestines that is triggered if gluten is eaten. Basically, gluten causes irreversible damage to the small intestine. That results in growth and development complications for children, and everything from fatigue and diarrhea to anemia and malnutrition for adults.
Those with the disease must follow a rigid gluten-free diet. There is no other cure, and the cause of the disease is not definitively known. The bottom line is that those with celiac disease need to be careful when it comes to buying wheat grass, because cross contamination can have serious consequences.
Those with celiac disease can have wheat grass if it is truly gluten-free wheat grass. If you are buying gluten-free wheat grass, verify that it is high quality and that you understand the FDA labeling system for gluten-free foods.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not weigh in on food supplements, but the FDA did issue a final rule on gluten-free labeling. The hope is this information will help consumers understand what foods are truly gluten free.
The FDA passed the following requirements for manufacturers that label their foods gluten free:
The food meets the definition for “gluten-free” in 21 CFR 101.91(a)(3), including that the food had less than 20 ppm [parts per million] gluten, before fermentation or hydrolysis.”
“The manufacturer adequately evaluated the processing for any potential for gluten cross-contact.”
“Where a potential for gluten cross-contact has been identified, the manufacturer has implemented measures to prevent the introduction of gluten into the food during the manufacturing process.”
Wheat grass has plenty of benefits in addition to being gluten-free. Some of the properties that make it a superfood include its soy-free and vegan qualities. Plus, it has a high chlorophyll content. Some of the potential benefits of chlorophyll include anti-inflammatory properties and wound healing. It’s also been linked to cleansing the liver.
Small studies have shown wheat grass may boost immunity and cleanse the digestive system, help reduce chronic fatigue syndrome, ease arthritis, and improve blood sugar levels, which may help diabetics.
Studies have shown wheat grass is a true superfood. Wheat grass products may even contribute to the healing of ulcerative colitis, hematologic diseases, obesity, and even cancer, though more definitive research is needed.
One scientific review of wheat grass noted the following:
“Two ounces of wheat grass juice has the nutritional equivalent of five pounds of the best crude natural vegetables. For instance, wheat grass has double the measure of Vitamin A as carrots and is higher in Vitamin C than oranges. It contains all the B complex vitamins, and also calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, and potassium in an adjusted proportion. Wheat grass is a finished wellspring of protein, supplying the majority of the key amino acids, and more.”
Now that you know more about wheat grass powder and its benefits, including being gluten-free, you may be interested in finding the right supplement for your needs.
At Brightcore, our Sweet Wheat® powder and capsules are made from the highest quality ingredients and processing. Both are made from organic wheat grass, and they include a combination of
phytonutrients, live enzymes, and chlorophyll. We take the additional steps to ensure our products are gluten free, non GMO, certified organic, vegan, soy free, with no artificial binders, fillers, or color.
Plus, you can be confident that the ingredients in Brightcore’s products aren’t diluted. When we harvest the ingredients, we dry them at cold temperatures to retain all of the heat-sensitive nutrients and enzymes within them.