You probably know about its importance for plants, but the benefits of chlorophyll can help us, humans, too. Chlorophyll is never present in any healthy diet, but being aware of how it can help you and how to use it best can contribute to attaining optimal health.
And if you don’t like vegetables, knowing the benefits of chlorophyll might make you reconsider it.
Chlorophyll can improve your immune system and digestive system, increase red blood cells, detoxify the body, act as an antioxidant and help our bodies in many other ways.
It is also linked to natural cancer prevention and can protect our cells and DNA from harmful toxins.
What Is Chlorophyll And How Does It Work?
Chlorophyll is the reason the planet is covered in green. All plants, algae and some bacteria need this green pigment for a vital process you have surely heard about before: photosynthesis.
Chlorophyll absorbs the sunlight and then uses it to combine it with water and carbon dioxide to create sugar, which gives energy to the plant.
An interesting fact about chlorophyll is the close resemblance of its molecular structure to hemoglobin, which transports oxygen through our blood.
And if you’re interested, the reason chlorophyll is green is that it mostly absorbs the blue and red parts of the sunlight’s spectrum, so there is only green left to reflect.
So, how can humans get some of its amazing benefits? Although the research results are mixed regarding some of the benefits of chlorophyll, there is no doubt chlorophyll has a wide range of positive effects on our health.
Here, we present you benefits that are backed by at least one scientific study and that reveal new facets of this amazing component.
Chlorophyll has incredible cleansing capabilities, and in the following list, you can see why.
X Benefits of Chlorophyll for Your Health
Helps Preventing Cancer
Chlorophyll has components that can protect you against some cancer risk factors.
In recent years, diets containing large amounts of red meat have been related to increased risk of colon cancer.
Red meat is known to release some toxins that might be the cause. One of them, called heme, is a pro-oxidant that can help cancerous cells grow.
Chlorophyll, being similar to heme at the molecular level, replaces it with a non-oxidant component and neutralizes its damage.
This effect also stops cancerogenic components from being absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract.
A study (3) in the Netherlands showed that chlorophyll consumption helped decrease colon cancer risk in men, and other studies (4) have shown it can heal DNA damage from cancerous chemicals and radiation.
Explained more broadly, chlorophyll can block the metabolism of certain enzymes in our bodies that activate procarcinogens, thus reducing the risk of developing cancer, especially in the colon and the liver.
Builds Up Your Blood and Fights Anemia
As it was said earlier, chlorophyll is remarkably similar to red blood cells in its structure.
More specifically, it resembles hemin, which is a component of red blood cells (hemoglobin).
From this fact derives some of the most interesting benefits of chlorophyll.
However, this doesn’t mean they are the same. It is not true, although many people claim it, that chlorophyll can oxygenate your blood, for it can’t attach to oxygen.
What chlorophyll can do is increase your red blood cell count, whose job is to bring oxygen to tissues.
This has a positive effect on immunity to diseases and general good health. There have also been studies that suggest that chlorella, which contains chlorophyll as one of its main components, greatly alleviates anemia.
Keep in mind these claims are still up to discussion.
Serves as Antioxidant and Helps Cleansing
Chlorophyll can benefit the detoxification and purification of your body. Due to its ability to attach to heavy metals in your blood, chlorophyll can cleanse toxins and impurities from your body.
A study (5) in China showed that chlorophyll can scavenge and counteract these health excessive free radicals, and was able to protect cells from oxidation.
This promotes healthy cells and prevents the formation of several illnesses.
It has even been suggested that chlorophyll can decrease radiation damage thanks to an active component called zybicolin, as well as eliminating residues of drugs like pesticides.
Speeds Up Wound Healing
Chlorophyll is able to speed up wound healing by fighting bacteria and decreasing their reproduction rate.
It can disinfect the wounded zone to prevent future germ growth and even decreases inflammation.
A study (1) showed that, after applying a chlorophyll compound, the wound improved its healing rate thanks to a growth in keratinocytes, the main skin cell of the epidermis.
This benefit of chlorophyll has actually been known since 1950 and has been used in products to help to close persistent open wounds like ulcers.
Improves Digestion and Helps Weight Loss
Our digestive health depends on having balanced hormonal release and fluids, and chlorophyll has shown to have a positive effect on both.
A study(6) showed that chlorophyll increases the release of hormones that produce the sensation of satiety, which can help with appetite control end weight loss efforts.
As for the digestive process, chlorophyll contains magnesium, which is a vital ingredient for the relaxation of muscles that produces a bowel movement.
Detoxifies the Liver
Another benefit of chlorophyll is its ability to cleanse your liver, thanks to its capability of improving the production of liver enzymes that help to eliminate harmful toxins.
There is also research(7) that suggests chlorophyll inhibits some enzymes that are related to the growth of liver cancer cells.
Maintains a Healthy Skin
With its antiviral properties, the benefits of chlorophyll for the skin are tremendous as it can help your skin health in different ways.
The benefits of chlorophyll can be obtained by other methods besides ingestion: when used as an ointment, it has been shown to be effective against herpes by decreasing the development of cold sores.
It can also protect the skin from shingles, reducing sores and speeding recovery. And being an antioxidant, it can contribute to the effects of aging.
Serves as Natural Deodorant
Chlorophyll can be used to reduce bad smells. It is claimed to fight bad breath by helping the digestive system, one of its main causes, and by eliminating the odor itself.
It is sometimes applied topically on wounds. A study(6) has shown that chlorophyll helps eliminate the fishy odor caused by a condition called trimethylaminuria.
As for bad breath, there is actually little evidence to support it.
How to Consume Chlorophyll
Chlorophyll is contained in almost all green food. Vegetables, including those that are part of our daily diet, are good sources of chlorophyll.
As photosynthesis occurs mostly in leaves, the more leafy and dark greened a vegetable is, the more chlorophyll it contains.
Good examples are spinach, kale, parsley, algae, asparagus, or broccoli.
In any case, you don’t have to worry about getting a good portion of chlorophyll if you include green vegetables in your normal diet.
If you want to better consume the chlorophyll in vegetables, avoid overcooking them or thawing them after being frozen.
Both processes have shown to destroy their chlorophyll content; for example, a study(7) showed that spinach lost 35% of its chlorophyll content after being thawed and another 50% after being boiled or steamed.
This means that the best way to ingest chlorophyll is by including raw vegetables in your diet or cooking them at low temperatures.
If you’re looking for more intense supplements, wheatgrass can be a good source of chlorophyll.
It is best consumed as juice, but can also be found in the form of powder.
Another very popular supplement is chlorella, Asian algae which share many of the benefits of chlorophyll.
Although it’s safe in most cases, talk to your doctor before consuming chlorella if you have a self-immune disease, sodium allergy or if you’re pregnant.
You can also find pure chlorophyll supplements in any drugstore, which will mostly contain chlorophyll, a synthetic derivative from chlorophyll.
Chlorophyll Side Effects
When consumed naturally in vegetables, there’s no risk in the ingestion of chlorophyll.
However, when it comes to supplements, some minor side-effects could happen. Some people can experience diarrhea and indigestion, but it should not last much.
Chlorophyll supplements can also create photosensitivity in people prone to sunburns, especially if the person is taking photosensitive drugs (just like if you were borrowing the light absorption capabilities from plants).
The most important warning comes from pregnant women: there hasn’t been much research on the effects of chlorophyll on pregnancy, so stay safe and avoid its supplementary consumption.
References: (1) (2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)