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Wheatgrass — a plant that’s often served as a juice or shot — is exceptionally popular among health enthusiasts.
It may even provide numerous health benefits due to its plant compounds (
However, given its name, you may wonder how it’s related to wheat and whether it contains gluten.
This article tells you whether wheatgrass is gluten-free.
Wheatgrass is the first young leaves of the common wheat plant Triticum aestivum (
This may seem surprising since wheat is off-limits to people who avoid gluten. The reason wheatgrass is gluten-free involves its harvesting methods.
This plant is cultivated during fall and reaches its nutritional peak by early spring. At this point, it has grown about 8–10 inches (20–25 cm) high.
It’s harvested during a 10-day window when immature wheat seeds — which contain gluten — are still near or below ground level, where the harvesting machines can’t reach them.
It’s then processed into various products, which are naturally gluten-free.
Wheatgrass is gluten-free, even though it’s a wheat product. It’s harvested before the gluten-containing wheat seeds sprout.
While most people easily digest gluten, it may cause severe side effects for those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that causes symptoms like bloating, fatigue, diarrhea, and weight loss due to nutrient malabsorption. Even minuscule amounts of gluten intake can be harmful (
For people without these ailments, gluten is perfectly safe to consume.
Gluten is a protein found in several grains. It causes adverse effects in people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. As such, these individuals must follow a gluten-free diet.
All forms of wheatgrass are prone to gluten contamination if good harvesting practices aren’t followed.
If wheatgrass is harvested after its appropriate 10-day window, immature wheat seeds may end up in the final product and contaminate it with gluten.
Additionally, there’s a risk of cross-contamination in facilities that use the same equipment to manufacture gluten-containing products.
Therefore, it’s best to choose wheatgrass products that have a label certifying them as gluten-free.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has set a limit of 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten — which is a very small amount — for gluten-free products (
Wheatgrass may become contaminated with gluten due to improper harvesting practices or cross-contamination in factories. To be safe, only choose wheatgrass products that are certified gluten-free.
However, it may become contaminated with gluten due to poor harvesting practices or cross-contamination. To reduce this risk, only choose wheatgrass products that are certified gluten-free.
If taking wheatgrass in supplement or juice form, always consult a health professional first.