For a Limited Time, Get My 200 Page Book
The Raw Secrets for FREE

What’s Wrong With Wheatgrass?

Wheatgrass: Nature’s Perfect Food?

Thanks to Dr. Graham
for his help in helping me revise the latest version of this article.

Wheatgrass used to be the big “superfood” promoted by popular raw-food authors. Nowadays, you don’t hear much about it since they are too busy selling raw chocolate and other more lucrative items, but it’s more popular than ever in the mainstream.

Jamba Juice sells it.

You can find frozen wheatgrass juice in most health food stores and most of the popular raw food rejuvenation centers offer wheatgrass juice as part of their therapy.

Why would you want to drink such a nasty beverage?

Let’s look at the claims made by wheatgrass proponents one by one.


One of the big claims made about wheatgrass juice is that because it’s rich in chlorophyll, and that chlorophyll is similar to hemoglobin in structure, that somehow it helps “build your blood”, because hemoglobin is an important component of blood. Some authors have even claimed that the “only” difference between hemoglobin and chlorophyll is the center element, which is iron for hemoglobin and magnesium for chlorophyll.

What is chlorophyll? It’s of course the substance that converts sun energy into chemical energy through the process known as photosynthesis. Without this process, human life would not be possible! Only plants can make carbohydrates from carbon dioxide and water.

Hemoglobin is a protein that transports oxygen into the red blood cells. It makes up about 35% of the blood. Without hemoglobin, human life would also not be possible. It transports oxygen from the lungs to every cell of the body that needs it.

So what’s the link between the two? They are certainly similar in structure, but with very important difference. The main difference is that hemoglobin is built around iron, while chlorophyll is built around magnesium. But to claim that the two molecules are easily interchangeable is really oversimplying things

We know that if you need iron, you cannot just take magnesium and expect your body to convert it like an alchemist would convert lead into gold.

Certain elements that help build the blood (such as iron, calcium, vitamin C, folic acid, etc.) are found abundantly in chlorophyll-containing foods such as green vegetables, so it’s easy to understand that these foods can have some benefits. But the claim that chlorophyll can be converted into hemoglobin is simply not supported by science.

Chrolophyll is not a necessary nutrient in human nutrition. Many populations throughout history have gone for years, or even decades on restricted diets of various foods that do not contain any chlorophyll (such as fruits, root vegetables, grains, etc.), with no apparent difficiency.

But the big misunderstanding about grass as part of the human diet is that we’re simply not grass-eating creatures. All of the various vitamins and minerals that are found in wheatgrass can be found in much more succulent and easily digestible fruits and v


Perhaps you should drink wheatgrass juice for enzymes?

First of all, the enzymes that are destroyed in the food are NOT the same enzymes that are required by your body to digest the food you’re eating.

For the sake of clarity, let’s define an enzyme. An enzyme is essentially a protein that helps make a specific chemical reaction occur.

Food enzymes are those found in foods, and their purpose is to carry out the chemical reactions necessary for the existence and life of the plant itself.

They are also destroyed by stomach acids upon ingestion by humans. Even if they could somehow survive the acidity in the stomach, these enzymes were designed for the plant. They helped the plant to grow, and would continue to help the plant carry out its life cycle. They play no part in the human digestive process.

The plant enzymes found in wheatgrass are in no way special. Lettuce and other vegetables contain the same enzymes.

3- Most Nutritious Food

The biggest claim about wheatgrass is that an ounce of wheatgrass juice is worth more than 2 pounds of fresh green vegetables. Is this true? Let’s see how this claim stands scrutiny.

Below you’ll find the nutritional data (taken from USDA databases) for one ounce of wheatgrass juice, compared to 2 pounds of two different vegetables. I threw in the typical carrot in there, just to see, even though it’s not a green vegetable.You’ll find that your typical ounce of wheatgrass juice is nowhere close to replacing the 2 pounds of vegetables, as wheatgrass promoters have claimed.

Wheatgrass Juice (1 ounce)

Vitamin E, 880 mcg (that’s “microgram” not milligram)
Betacarotene,120 IU
Vitamin C, 1 mg.
Vitamin B12, 0.30 mcg (that’s “microgram” again)
Magnesium, 8 mg.
Calcium, 7.2 mg.
Iron, 0.66 mg.
Potassium, 42 mg.

Raw Spinach (2 pounds)

Vitamin E, 18400 mcg.  (I converted to micrograms, for easier comparison)
Betacarotene, 85,066. IU
Vitamin C, 254.9 mg.
Vitamin B12, none
Magnesium, 716.7 mg.
Calcium, 898.1 Mg.
Iron, 24.6 mg.
Potassium, 5,062.1 mg.

Raw Carrots (2 pounds)

Vitamin E, 6000 mcg.  (I converted to micrograms, for easier comparison)
Betacarotene, 152,506 IU
Vitamin C, 53.5
Vitamin B12, none
Magnesium, 108.9 mg.
Calcium, 299.4 Mg.
Iron, 2.7 mg.
Potassium, 2,903.0 mg.

This was just an except of my monthly newsletter. The same issue also contained a complete description of detoxification, how it works, what to expect, what to avoid, and more description of other symptoms. If you liked it, learn more about subscribing at


Eating Olives

Hi Frederic! I really enjoyed reading your “Raw Secrets” book. What do you think of eating olives? Do olives have a high nutritional value? Some of the gourmet olives taste great although they use too much salt so I usually soak the olives in water and rinse them before eating to reduce the salt. I like olives, but I am just concerned about the excess salt. Since olives are also high in fat, how many do you recommend eating for one serving? Thanks.

ANSWER: I don’t recommend olives, except as an occasional exception. Olives are quite inedible when picked right from the tree, and must be cured and preserved in salt. That makes them quite unhealthy in the first place.

I also know that some people sell sun-dried, salt-free olives. I personally find them bitter as hell and am not attracted to eat them at all. But if you like them, you can certainly enjoy a few (maybe 6-12) with a salad meal. But remember, they should be sundried and salt-free. Maybe if you try them in that state you’ll come to the same conclusion I did, which is that they’re nothing special!

How Much Protein is Enough?

Frederic, I have just received your lesson 3 about protein…that surprised me more than anything so far. I am just curious how you came to this conclusion of less than 6% protein is optimal. I tried to remove proteins from my meals and I felt miserable because I fell eating too much starch and weakening my bodies. An ND told me because I am a blood type O+, I had to have my daily proteins!!…suggesting to go back to meat. Because I am vegetarian, I refused to eat meat no matter what….

ANSWER: 6% of protein in total calories consumed is plenty, for the following reasons:

1.    Human milk only contains 6% protein (by calories). We know that babies are growing fast and need more protein than adult. So there is no reason to think we would need more protein than a growing baby.
2.    Vegetarian and fruitarian animals on the planet all eat a low-protein diet and yet build tremendous strength and muscle.
3.    Proteins in fruits and vegetables are of higher quality than proteins in grains or beans. They contain all necessary amino acids and are not processed, cooked or coagulated by heat. Therefore, they are easy to assimilate.

In the 11 years I’ve been on a raw diet, I’ve never known any raw-foodist with a true protein deficiency.

However, I’ve met plenty of people who consumed too little food and wasted away, in addition to suffering from many deficiency-related problems.

It’s essential to consume enough calories to meet your needs. If you do that, you’ll automatically get enough protein, along with most necessary nutrients (one exception is Vitamin B12. I recommend supplementing for that).

As for the blood type diet, I have debunked it many times, in details in my program the Raw Health Starter Kit.
Raw Health Starter Kit

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.