A wheatgrass shot is a small amount of juice, usually anywhere from 2 to 4 ounces (about 59 to 118 mL), made from the tender young shoots of the wheat plant. People tend to drink them in one or two swallows, much the way they would drink shots of liquor; it is also common to add them to other blended juices or smoothies. Wheatgrass typically has a rather bitter flavor, which can make sipping the juice somewhat unpleasant. It has a lot of important vitamins and minerals, though, and people often look past the taste to get the health benefits.
Many health experts recommend wheatgrass both as a way to improve vitamin intake and as a natural cure for digestive and immune problems. Getting these benefits usually requires a relatively large intake, however, and it’s difficult for many people to stomach eating large amounts of the plant on its own. Rather than pile salads high with the greens, many people choose to blend them into a juice. Wheatgrass shots often contain platefuls of plant in a single, small serving.
Shots are typically bright green in color thanks to high levels of chlorophyll. Wheatgrass is, as its name might suggest, the tender grass-like tendrils of the common wheat plant. It is typically harvested within about a week of sprouting, and at this point it’s usually bright green. Only later would it take on the pale color and dry texture more often associated with wheat. The sprouts tend to have a rather bitter, earthy flavor, and shots usually have these characteristics, too.
Wheatgrass — and by association, the juice that is made from it — contains a wealth of enzymes, amino acids and minerals that are important for optimal health. In addition to protein, iron, and calcium, the plant also contains high levels of beta-carotene and vitamins E, C, and B12. It tends to be a good source of magnesium and potassium, too. Consuming a lot of the grass in a “shot” of juice can be a good way for people to quickly meet many of their vitamin needs for a day. The nutrients tend to enter the bloodstream relatively quickly once ingested, making the juice an effective means of quick energy.
There haven’t been many clinical tests done on wheatgrass and its health benefits, but proponents’ claims include improved digestion, lessening of menopause symptoms, relief of constipation, and bloodstream detoxification. Regular consumption may also help prevent heart disease and diabetes.
Cautions and Side Effects
Most experts recommend that people ingest no more than two shots, or about 8 ounces (237 mL), of wheatgrass juice in a day. More than this can cause stomach cramps, bloating, and a range of intestinal problems. Despite being part of the wheat plant, the grass typically doesn’t contain the wheat protein gluten, though, making the shots an acceptable choice for those with gluten intolerance or sensitivity.
Where to Purchase
Juice bars and health food stores around the world sell wheatgrass shots either made fresh to order or pre-packaged in small containers for easy use. It’s sometimes also possible to find wheatgrass juice sold in bulk, often at specialty grocers or natural wellness suppliers. The most important thing consumers should look for is purity: a true wheatgrass shot will contain wheatgrass juice and nothing else. Manufacturers sometimes add water, sugar, or other additives to improve the taste, but these can detract from the drink’s overall nutritional benefit.
Making Shots at Home
People who drink wheatgrass on a regular basis often find that it is more economical to make shots at home, and this also gives them ultimate control over concentration, additives, and shot size. In most cases, all that is needed is a handful or so of the grass and a blender or juicer.
Fresh wheatgrass can be bought from a number of health food stores, but most people find that it isn’t that difficult to grow. Letting the wheat fully mature typically requires a field or yard of some size, but the grass can often be grown indoors in trays or small pots. Home growers can sometimes improve their yield by investing in specialty growing boxes, lights, and other tools, but all that anyone really needs to get started is wheat berries and a bit of soil. The grasses usually need to be harvested within about ten days of sprouting, but they tend to regenerate relatively quickly, particularly if they aren’t cut all the way down.
Wheatgrass shots, whether purchased or made fresh, generally need to be consumed within a day or so of blending in order to be as potent as possible. The juice should be refrigerated and kept covered; most people will also stir or shake it gently before serving.
Variations and Blends
Not everyone finds the taste or experience of drinking a wheatgrass shot appealing, and this is a big reason why the juice is so often sold in such small quantities. It’s often a lot easier to “shoot” the juice — which is to say, to drink it quickly in one swallow — than it is to sip it slowly. This is also the reason why wheatgrass is sometimes listed as an ingredient in fruit smoothies or in other blended drinks. The juice can give a nutritional boost while other ingredients can mask the taste. Some manufacturers also sell wheatgrass powder or supplement pellets for those who want the benefits without any of the taste.