Oat grass is mostly thought of as an ornamental grass in front lawns and other landscaped areas (it looks like blue fescue, only taller), but did you know there’s also an edible version of oat grass that can benefit your health? Read on to discover the health benefits of oat grass.
What Is Oat Grass?
Originating from North Africa and the Mediterranean region, oat grass is from the same family as barley and wheatgrass. While the drought-tolerant decorative-landscaping oat grass is known as blue oat grass (with a subtle and pleasing blue foliage color) or Helictotrichon sempervirens, edible oat grass (Avena sativa) is part of the so-called “cereal grass family,” and is a popular home plant that some evidence suggests helps benefit your brain and your overall health.
The Benefits of Oat Grass
Oat grass when consumed can deliver antioxidant protection, increase your brain heath, and help you live longer.
Full of Antioxidants
This easy-care plant is full of vitamins and minerals, including beta carotene, vitamin A, calcium, vitamin C, folic acid, vitamin E, protein, B vitamins, and vitamin K. Not only is it an excellently strong plant, but it’s also an edible green that contains tricin, a flavonoid that can help guard your heart, reduce symptoms of aging, and prevent free radical damage. Not since the aloe vera plant has a rock garden regular been so useful for your health.
Free radicals are toxic results of oxygen metabolism that cause oxidative stress damage to the body, and antioxidants can counteract their destructive force.
Relieves Stress and Anxiety
Stress can cause real damage to your body, from sleep problems to heart palpitations to hair loss. While you can’t always avoid experiencing stressful times and circumstances, you can treat yourself well and take supplements that may help alleviate the stress. Oat grass may be one of your helpers, as the nutrients in oat grass can reduce anxiety and relieve stress due to their influence on your brain’s chemistry.
Considered a nervine herb, oat grass can calm and nourish your nervous system, plus improve your well-being every day you consume it.
Ups Your Dopamine Levels
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in your brain that helps regulate movement, learning, and your emotional responses, and a lack of sufficient dopamine could lead to problems as serious as Parkinson’s disease. Oat grass helps increase dopamine availability in your brain, thus keeping you in better spirits.
Aids in Addiction Management
Certain social habits like smoking and drinking can lead to dire consequences for those who become addicted. This is another connection to dopamine: every sip of alcohol or puff of a cigarette releases dopamine in your brain, causing you to feel pleasure.
If you quit these activities for the betterment of your health, there may be an unpleasant withdrawal period that can involve poor mood, headaches, heat palpitations, and more unpleasant side effects. Oat extract is being studied to help people quit smoking, which helps improve your health and will certainly help you live longer.
Speaking of prolonging your life, oat grass is one of many superfoods out there, with essential fatty acids that help promote strong health and longevity. Oats and oat grass are full of other nutrients like folic acid, selenium, biotin, zinc, and more, all of which help to strengthen your body and improve your health.
Enhances Cognitive Performance
A study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine in 2011 found that oat grass extract improved cognitive performance in human subjects, including a better ability to focus, pay prolonged attention, and concentrate. Grow a little oat grass for a nutritional supplement and you too may improve your mental abilities.
Potential Oat Grass Side Effects
While oat grass is considered safe to consume for most adults, those who have a gluten sensitivity or allergy may want to avoid it, and pregnant or nursing women should always consult their physician before adding any sort of new supplement to their dietary intake.
Some people also find that oat grass upsets their stomach, so if you experience any sort of adverse side effect, discontinue eating or blending oat grass—leave it for your cat instead!
How Do I Grow Oat Grass?
While oat grass supplements can be purchased in powder, tablet, or capsule form, it’s also fun and easy to grow some oat grass yourself. In the wild it can thrive in both wet and dry soil, and it’s a cool season grass you can enjoy even in mid-late winter. Here’s how to get this beneficial plant started from seeds in your very own home:
- Choose a pot or planter deep enough for the seeds to take root, and add some potting soil.
- Soak about a quarter cup of the seeds in cool water 6-12 hours before planting.
- Plant the oat grass seeds about 1 inch deep in the soil and at least a quarter of an inch apart from one another.
- Cover the seeds with more soil and place your planter pot where it can bask in full sun for at least 6 hours per day (ideally).
- Maintain a light watering schedule (no need to drench the soil) and in about 1 week you should see oat grass growing.
- When your oat grass is anywhere between 4 and 10 inches long (assuming your cat hasn’t gotten to it first), use a pair of scissors to clip some cuttings close to the seed heads where the green blades turn white.
Good, Gracious Grass
Oat grass clippings can be added to healthy green smoothies or sprinkled into other dishes as you please. You can even grow some oat grass in a small dish for your cat to chew on, as these little green sprouts can be a healthful joy for humans and animals alike.