One of the most common causes of mortality observed nowadays is heart diseases, for men and women alike.
The heart is one of the major organs required for the proper functioning of the body as it pumps blood to the kidneys, brain and all other important body parts.
Our life depends on the proper functioning of this vital organ, as the moment it stops beating, death may occur.
This makes it very important to keep it functioning properly and far away from any heart disease.
Heart diseases affect the heart in various ways.
While some affect the valves and muscles of the heart, others affect coronary arteries and the electrical system.
It is not impossible to treat such diseases. However, timely action must be taken in order to eliminate the life-threatening effects.
Due to the unhealthy lifestyles and eating habits of a large number of people across the globe, many are at risk of heart diseases.
Some are suffering from them, some are taking the required treatments and some want quick riddance.
For those looking for a herbal alternative to their medicines, wheatgrass can prove to be beneficial. Wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum) is the cotyledons of the plant.
Enriched with many beneficial compounds such as vitamins A, E, K, C, chlorophyll,it also has minerals including magnesium, iron, calcium and phosphorus.
It is also a great source of fiber. These components altogether help in keeping the heart healthy.
Proven Benefits of Wheatgrass for Heart Health
Here are a few studies that have proven the benefits of wheatgrass for heart and vascular health.
1. Wheatgrass consumption protects from risk factors for developing heart diseases
Hyperlipidemia can be caused because of the consumption of a diet high in lipids, unhealthy lifestyles and also lead to oxidative stress.
As free radicals are capable of damaging the membranes as well as the endothelium of the vascular tissues, it gradually impairs their ability to relax and causes them to contract.
This can result in hypertension, another risk factor associated with heart diseases. Wheatgrass can hence help in keeping the heart diseases at bay.
A study was published in the journal “Methods and findings in experimental and clinical pharmacology” in 2010 which stated that wheatgrass helped in the amelioration of hyperlipidemia in an animal model.
The diet of the animals suffering from hyperlipidemia was supplemented with wheatgrass for a period of 10 weeks.
This resulted in a rise in the good cholesterol (HDL) and a decline in the total cholesterol levels.
It reduced the levels of the compound “malondialdehyde” which leads to a rise in oxidative stress and also increased the levels of “glutathione” which is an antioxidant.
When individuals with hyperlipidemia were administered with 3.5 g of freeze-dried and powdered wheatgrass in the form of a capsule, for 10 weeks, it was observed that the total cholesterol reduced.
There was also a significant reduction in Apolipoprotein B, which is involved in atherosclerosis and also causes the inflammation of the arterial walls.
The levels of HDL were reduced too, but the reduction was not significant.
What does this mean? Wheatgrass helps in tackling the hyperlipidemia and oxidative stress by increasing the levels of antioxidants in the body thereby preventing the risks associated with heart diseases. It also helps in lowering the levels of bad cholesterol such as triglycerides.
2. Flavonoids present in wheatgrass is excellent for heart health
Flavanoids are polyphenolic compounds found in plants.
Hence, they are found in fruits and vegetables as well; these include wheatgrass as well.
Flavonoids help to strengthen the heart.
Post-menopausal women were to take a diet rich in flavonoids. The study concluded that the foods rich in flavonoids decreased the mortality that could have been caused due to coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease.
Coronary heart disease occurs when the arteries are blocked due to the buildup of plaque and the blood flow to the heart gets restricted or limited.
According to a study published in “Nutrition Reviews” in 2012 which also emphasized on the fact that flavonoid consumption had a strong association with lower risks of mortality coronary heart disease.
The risk is lowered by protecting the heart against oxidative damage and the preconditioning of the heart that can be done by the flavonoids.
What does this mean? Flavonoids can prevent the onset of cardiovascular diseases and coronary heart disease.
3. Selenium present in wheatgrass reduces risks of heart diseases
Selenium is required in small amounts in the body as it helps in making some special proteins as well as antioxidant enzymes. Selenium is also a very important constituent in wheatgrass.
The low levels of selenium in the body are linked to increased risks of cardiovascular diseases.
The people who have had episodes of myocardial infarction were found to have low levels of selenium in their body.
This occurs because in the absence of selenium; lipid peroxides accumulate in the heart, especially in the tissues where the blood supply is low (the ischemic tissue) or the tissue has been damaged because of the return of the blood to that area after a prolonged period of lack of oxygen supply (reperfusion injury).
Lipid peroxides damage the cells by disturbing calcium transport. This leads to an accumulation of calcium inside the cell.
This can result in the formation of some other compounds such as thromboxane that increases the platelet aggregability and blood pressure.
Selenium has also been found to protect the heart against many cardiotoxic elements, viral infections and cardiotoxic xenobiotics that affect the heart in a negative way.
Selenium deficiency can also cause myocardial ischemia and hypertension.
What does this mean? Selenium present in wheatgrass protects the cardiac tissue, prevents high blood pressure and thereby fights heart diseases.
4. The fibre content of wheatgrass helps manage cholesterol levels
Fibre has been known as one of the most important dietary components for those struggling with obesity, hyperlipidemia and abnormal cholesterol levels.
Fiber is beneficial because it prevents the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines.
Wheatgrass also consists of a large amount of fiber which helps the heart.
According to a review, when the link between risk of coronary heart disease and dietary fiber intake was examined, it was observed that there was a decrease in the risk of coronary death and also in all other coronary events.
Fiber prevents the excessive secretion of bile salt, prevents the synthesis of cholesterol. Bile, containing cholesterol, gets bound to the fiber, so does the dietary cholesterol, eventually helping the body to eliminate it.
A study also proved that the fiber intake was inversely associated with the risk of type 2 diabetes. Blood glucose that accumulates in the body due to diabetes can contribute to high cholesterol levels, hypertension and eventually damage the heart.
What does this mean? Fiber present in large quantities in wheatgrass prevents the assimilation of cholesterol in the body and also prevents the risk of heart disease caused due to type-2 diabetes.
5. Minerals present in wheatgrass benefit vascular health
Wheatgrass consists of a number of minerals such as iron, potassium, zinc, calcium and magnesium. Out of these, magnesium and iron play an important role in protecting the heat.
Magnesium has a close association with diabetes and it is also responsible for the induction of oxidative stress as well as inflammation in the body. It also draws out the fat present in the liver thereby preventing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Hence the blood pressure is regulated, as well as the lipid content. Low levels of magnesium have also been associated with coronary heart disease.
According to a study published in “American Heart Journal” in 1998, it was observed that low levels of magnesium in the body contributed to the pathogenesis of acute thrombosis as well as coronary atherosclerosis.
Deficiency of magnesium also causes the coronary vessels to constrict, resulting in limited oxygen supply to the heart muscles. Hence it has a protective role against cardiovascular diseases.
If a person has the shortage of iron in their body, it results in lower levels of hemoglobin in their body. This results in lethargy and anemia. Wheatgrass contains iron salts which can help prevent such phenomena.
Since anemia can result in heart failure, such conditions can be devastating for those suffering from heart disease.
Iron deficiency can lead to a number of pathophysiological changes in anemic patients that can lead to heart failure and hence iron can be administered as therapy.
Since anemia and iron deficiency together may lead to heart failure, it becomes very important to keep it in check.
What does this mean? Magnesium and iron present in wheatgrass prevent anemia, high and abnormal cholesterol levels and also prevent the chances of heart failure.
6. Vitamins in wheatgrass are heart friendly
Wheatgrass contains vitamins such as vitamin A,B,C,D,E and K. They also play significant roles in controlling the heart diseases.
The association of vitamin D with the risk of coronary heart disease in women was examined. It was observed that upon the intake of vitamin C, the risk of coronary heart disease was lower.
Also, according to a review in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, taking vitamin C orally had a significant impact on blood pressure. 29 trials were considered and the dose of vitamin C was 500mg per day, for a period of 8 weeks.
It was observed that vitamin C reduced systolic as well as diastolic blood pressure.
While vitamin D is important for the bones and muscles of the body, it also has a positive effect on the heart.
Vitamin D is responsible for the regulation of the renin-angiotensinsystem (a system that regulates blood pressure), and it reduces inflammation. The patients deficient in vitamin D are at a 60% higher risk of heart disease than those with higher concentrations.
In overweight and obese individuals, circulating concentrations of vitamin D are decreased and explain an elevated risk of cardiovascular diseases.
It was observed that when obese and overweight post-menopausal women lost weight and increased their exercise, the circulating concentrations of vitamin D increased.
Vitamin D intake, along with calcium also resulted in a smaller rise in fasting plasma glucose over a period of 3 years. It hence attenuated glycemia as well as insulin resistance over a period.
What does this mean? Vitamin C and vitamin D keep the blood pressure regulated, the risk of heart diseases at bay and also attenuated insulin resistance and glycemia.
7. Wheatgrass boosts antioxidants defenses
As mentioned earlier, antioxidants are required to prevent the damage caused by the free radicals in the walls of the blood vessels which can give rise to hypertension, which may have a serious impact on the heart.
Such antioxidants are present in wheatgrass as well. According to a study published in “Phytotherapy Research” in 2006, the antioxidant capacity of wheatgrass was estimated.
For this purpose, the ethanol and aqueous extracts of wheatgrass were grown for periods varying from 6 to 15 days, in different conditions.
It was observed that the ethanol extracts had more flavonoid and phenolic content than the aqueous extracts.
The wheatgrass grown in soil was found to have the most antioxidant effect. Such extract could also inhibit the cellular oxidative damage.
What does this mean? Wheatgrass contains antioxidants which prevent damage caused to the blood vessels due to free radicals and also prevent the peroxidation of lipids in the liver.
8. Wheatgrass protects from cardiotoxicity
Cardiomyopathy is a disease in which the heart fails to deliver blood to all the body parts, and this can result in a bloated stomach, swollen limbs and ultimately heart failure.
Usually, it is inherited. However, sometimes drugs such as “Doxorubicin” which is a chemotherapy medicine used for the treatment of cancer.
Doxorubicin, when used as therapy can lead to an increase in some free radicals in the body.
It has been proven that wheatgrass is protective against the cardiotoxic effects of doxorubicin.
It was observed that wheatgrass protected against the mortality as well as oxidative damage caused due to the drug.
This happened because of the controlled levels of malondialdehyde in the cardiac tissues. Wheatgrass boosted the level of antioxidant enzymes and restored cardiac activity.
What does this mean? Wheatgrass has cardioprotective effects against the cardiomyopathy caused by doxorubicin which is used therapies such as chemotherapy.
Wheatgrass can be freshly collected and be cut, pounded and crushed.
It can then be wrapped in a thin cloth, or a muslin cloth, the juice can be extracted.
Water can be added to enhance the process.
It can also be crushed in a mixer.
Nowadays, tablets, pills, and capsules are also available.
A single dose of wheatgrass can range from 3 grams up to 6 grams per day. If taken on an empty stomach, it can yield maximum benefits and food and drinks must be avoided for an hour after consumption.
Wheatgrass must be tested for any allergies that may occur.
Before incorporating it into the everyday routine, one must first test it by consuming only a small quantity and check if they experience any nausea or headaches.
While deficiency of iron can result in anemia and increase the risk of heart failure, an overdose of iron or high levels of iron are associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease.
Hence, one must keep the quantities of wheatgrass they consume in check.
One must also be careful if consuming it at the time of pregnancy as well as breastfeeding because evidence of consumption of wheatgrass during such time is lacking.
Wheatgrass can alone, and due to most of its constituents can keep the heart healthy, protect it, strengthen, and recondition it.
The constituents also keep the factors that increase the risk of heart disease or damage to the heart in check, such as anemia, blood pressure, type-2 diabetes and so on.
Hence, wheatgrass can be a very useful supplement for those trying to treat heart diseases or keeping the risk of contracting one at bay.
However, the given dosage should never be exceeded as the effects it yields might turn out to be opposite. One could also consult their physicians before everyday consumption of the same.
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