Confirmation of gluten-free status of wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum)

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S.L. Adrianos
B. Mattioni
M. Tilley


wheatgrass, gluten analysis, ELISA, toxic gliadin peptide


Young wheat (Triticum aestivum) leaves contain concentrated nutrients that may be beneficial as a nutritional supplement to those with malabsorption disorders such as celiac disease (CD) if both gluten-free, and free of gluten contamination. The tender 8-10 day leaves are juiced and the juice is consumed, added to smoothies, or consumed as a purchased wheatgrass dietary supplement in tablet, capsule and liquid forms. CD and other gluten related disorders cause both malabsorption of nutrients and an abnormal immune reaction to gluten. The only effective therapy is a lifelong gluten-free diet. Codex Alimentarius sets the gluten threshold level at 20 mg/kg for gluten-free foods. This threshold has been adopted by many regulatory agencies such as European Commission and the US Food and Drug Administration. Consumption of wheatgrass extract has been reported to alleviate symptoms of ulcerative colitis and anaemia which are often symptoms of CD. This investigation utilised the R5 and G12 sandwich enzyme-linked immuno sorbent assays (ELISAs) to examine the potential gluten content of commercial and home-grown wheatgrass. Samples were spiked with commercial gliadin to assess recovery rates. Acceptable recovery rates ranging from 91 to 133% from gluten spiked samples were found. In all preparations the gluten content of wheatgrass leaf tissue was lower than the limit of detection and limit of quantification for both ELISAs as well as the thresholds defined by Codex Alimentarius standards. According to results presented here appropriately prepared wheatgrass contains no gluten and may have a role as a dietary supplement in a gluten-free diet.

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