Although wheatgrass comes from the same plant that produces the wheat grain used to make flour, wheatgrass is harvested before the plant matures and produces grain.
Wheat and wheatgrass come from the same plant, Triticum aestivum. The term "wheat" generally refers to the grain often used to make flour, while "wheatgrass" refers to the young grass that grows before the grain is produced.
When the grass is young, before it produces grain, it can be harvested and juiced or dried. Wheatgrass juice is typically served at juice bars or health food stores in "shots" or added to other juice drinks and smoothies. Dried wheatgrass is sold in capsules and as a powder you can add to drinks for health benefits. Some health food stores also sell fresh wheatgrass for juicing at home. The plant is about seven inches high and bright green.
The wheat grain -- a small, dry fruit the mature grass produces -- is much more commonly consumed as a staple food worldwide. Whole wheat grain is rich in fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E and minerals such as iron, zinc and magnesium, according to a report from the Minnesota Department of Health. Flour made from ground raw wheat grains is the main ingredient in breads, crackers, pastries, cookies, breakfast cereals and noodles. Wheat grains are also fermented to make beer and other alcoholic beverages. After corn and rice, wheat is the most consumed cereal in the world.
Reasons to Consume Wheatgrass
Wheatgrass contains vitamins A and C, protein, zinc and other vital nutrients in a concentrated form. It also contains chlorophyll, the green pigment found in most plants. Consumption of chlorophyll is proposed to have a number of health benefits, including strengthening the heart and lungs and detoxifying and purifying the body. Wheatgrass may also help alleviate the symptoms of ulcerative colitis, according to New York University's Langone Medical Center.
Wheat Allergies and Wheatgrass
Because wheatgrass contains no wheat grains, those who suffer from wheat allergies, celiac disease or gluten intolerance can safely consume wheatgrass juice and powder. This is because an allergy to wheat is most often an allergy to gluten, a component of the grain. Wheatgrass does not contain gluten and is therefore not likely to cause an adverse reaction.