Grass is a type of monocotyledonous flowering plant that belongs to the poaceae family. Globally, there are more than 12,000 species of grass and they constitute 20% of the earth’s vegetation cover.
In fact, grasses are so dominant they are found on almost every continent including Antarctica. They are economically important because they play a key role in agriculture and rearing of domesticated herbivores such as cattle. More importantly, grasses contain compounds that are beneficial to human health.
Main Grass Types
Corn is a member of the grass family that can grow up to nine meters tall. However, the average height of most varieties of corn is about 2.5 meters.
Wheat is also a member of the grass family that can grow up to five feet tall. It is grown to produce grains that are ground into flour for making bread and other wheat-based foods.
Rice can be broken down into two major categories: Asian and African rice. This grass species can grow to six feet tall though most varieties reach three feet.
Sugarcane is a perennial grass that is grown mainly for purposes of extracting and crystallizing its juice to make sugar. The soft inner pulp can also be chewed to enjoy its sweet juice.
Barley is a versatile cereal grain-producing grass. Fermented barley grains are key ingredients in the manufacture of alcoholic beverages.
Although oats are not widely grown, their high nutritional value have made them popular breakfast cereals.
Health Benefits of Grasses
According to the National Veterinary Institute based in Oslo, Norway, grasses contain bioactive compounds that are pharmacologically beneficial to humans. For instance, they contain vitamins and essential minerals. Here are some of the key health benefits of grasses:
Thanks to its low glycemic index (GI) compared to other carbohydrate foods, barley is the right source of carbohydrates for people with diabetes. Data from the Harvard Medical School shows that the glycemic index of pearled barley grains is 28. In comparison, sweet corn on the cob has an average GI of 60.
Vitamins and Essential Nutrients
Wheatgrass is a grass species that can supply your body with a huge chunk of its daily vitamin and essential nutrients requirements. It contains vitamins A, C, and E as well as magnesium, iron amino acids, and calcium minerals, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Vitamin E is also found in wheat germ. In particular, vitamin E is a fat-soluble alpha-tocopherol that safeguards cell membranes from damage by Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), according to a study published by a researcher at the University of Oslo’s Department of Nutrition, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences.
Antibacterial, Antioxidant and Antidiarrheal
According to a scientific paper published in the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, lemon grass has numerous pharmacological benefits including antibacterial, antioxidant, antidiarrheal, antimutagenicity, antifilarial, antimycobacterial, and antiamoebic properties.
These health benefits are derived from lemongrass oil compounds such as ketones, hydrocarbon terpenes, esters, luteolin, flavonoids, elimicins, chlorogenic acid, alcohols and aldehydes.
Malaria is a deadly mosquito-borne disease that kills almost half a million people globally per year. This is according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Luckily, lemon grass extracts can inhibit this disease, according to a study published by the journal Plant Medica. The researchers involved in this study found that lemon grass essential oils registered an 86.6% success rate in suppressing the growth of plasmodium berghei.
Incorporating Grass into Your Diet
Incorporating grasses into your diet is easy since grass extracts are commercially available in juice and powder form. Good examples of such products include Total Living Drink Greens and Athletic Greens.
Grasses have immense health benefits. For instance, can help treat malaria and manage diabetes. What’s more, grasses have great antibacterial, antioxidant and antidiarrheal properties.