Is wheatgrass gluten-free? The controversial answer

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Mar 29 2017 - 4:20pm

Wheatgrass products are sometimes labeled as gluten-free, but the word wheat in the name creates questions about their safety. If you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, then you will want to know if you can eat wheatgrass.

Wheatgrass can be a controversial topic in the gluten-free community because of the ongoing confusion about its safety. When you are on a strict gluten-free diet because of celiac disease or gluten intolerance, you have to avoid products with wheat in them. However, wheatgrass is frequently labeled as gluten-free (GF), so is it safe?

What is wheatgrass?

Wheatgrass is a plant that has become a popular health supplement and food. The young shoots of the wheat plant are the grass. Several research studies have focused on the health benefits of wheatgrass, and they include anti-cancer potential, reduction in oxidative stress, helping rheumatoid arthritis, healing ulcerative colitis and other advantages.

Is wheatgrass gluten-free?

Whether you are on the gluten-free diet because of celiac disease, gluten intolerance or another reason, you will want to know if it is safe to consume wheatgrass. Is wheatgrass gluten-free? The answer is complicated. According to the American Association of Cereal Chemists, gluten is a protein that is found in seeds, so it should not be present in the stems or leaves of a plant. Wheatgrass that does not include the seeds is gluten-free, but it is hard to avoid contamination with the seeds.

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Unfortunately, the risk of cross-contamination is high when wheatgrass is harvested and processed. If a farmer is able to harvest the grass and avoid all seeds, then the final product should be gluten-free, and this is why you often see some wheatgrass products labeled as GF. However, the risk of seeds containing gluten ending up in the mix is high.

Where to find wheatgrass

Wheatgrass is frequently sold as a supplement, and you can find it in the vitamin area of many stores. You may see it in tablets, pills and powders. In addition, wheatgrass smoothies and juices are popular. Some of these products may carry a GF label while others may not. However, the risk of cross-contamination with gluten is always a possibility, so you have to determine if it is worth trying the product.

Some health experts suggest avoiding all wheatgrass products if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. You have to verify from a supplier or manufacturer that they are using pure wheatgrass without a trace of seeds, so there is no gluten.

Wheatgrass alternatives

You may not want to risk eating wheatgrass products if you have celiac disease or gluten intolerance. However, wheatgrass alternatives are easy to find. Consider using dark leafy greens instead of wheatgrass, and you may get many of the same benefits. For example, spinach and kale are healthy alternatives that are safe for gluten-free diets.

One report found that switching to broccoli instead of eating wheatgrass provides the same health benefits and saves money. Both broccoli and wheatgrass contain vitamins, calcium, chlorophyll and other nutrients. If you cannot eat wheatgrass, there are alternatives that are worth trying.

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