Wellness Wednesday - Barley and Wheat Grass: Super Green Foods

Barley and wheat grass are known as super green foods that offer far greater levels of nutrient density than dark green leafy vegetables. One ounce of these super green foods provides more phytonutrients than an ounce of green vegetables. The nutrient profiles of these young cereal grasses change quickly as the plants grow: the chlorophyll, protein, and vitamin content declines sharply as the plant changes from green leafy grasses to amber waves of grain.

One of the key ingredients in barley and wheat grasses is chlorophyll. The chlorophyll molecules closely resemble hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying protein of red blood cells. Chlorophyll consumed by horses and humans can increase the number of red blood cells, thereby increasing oxygen utilization in the body.  More oxygen, less muscle fatigue.

Barley and wheat grass are powerhouses of antioxidants, particularly SOD (superoxide dismutase). SOD is an enzyme that acts as both an antioxidant and as an anti inflammatory because it reduces cellular damage caused by the most common and abundant free radical: superoxide. SOD is especially important now with air pollutants and pesticide/herbicide residue affecting our air, and soils, and water. SOD has recently been named an “anti aging enzyme”.

These two super green foods also provide high concentrations of the most alkaline minerals: calcium, magnesium, potassium, and sodium as well as the important micro minerals: copper, zinc, and selenium. Barley and wheat grass also supply important digestive enzymes: amylase (for digesting starch), protease (for digesting protein), and lipase (for digesting fat). With twice the vitamin C content as an orange, and twice the vitamin A as a carrot, as well as 19 amino acids, the vitamins K, and E, as well as most of the B vitamin family, these super foods are important for health and performance of humans and horses.

When to use barley or wheat grasses:

Due to the high amounts of bioavailable calcium, these grasses are excellent to use for fractures and bone remodeling. Because these super green foods are alkaline, they are important supplements for acidosis, and enteroliths. Due to the high amounts of anti oxidants and chlorophyll, wheat grass and barley grass are important for performance horses to reduce cellular damage and increase oxygenation. Since these super foods provide both digestive enzymes as well as food enzymes, they help support older horses, and the horses that need extra digestive support. With the nutrient density of these foods, you don’t need to feed high amounts: 1-2 Tablespoons once or twice a day makes these grasses easy to supplement.