What’s your favorite color? While we love all the colors of the rainbow here at MHLC, green is our most popular. In addition to being the color of the heart chakra, we see green in the verdant trees that give us oxygen and the vegetables in our garden that feed us. And it turns out that the green in plants can help us in more ways than you might imagine.
The Chlorophyll Connection
Green plants receive their color from chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the blood of plants, with a molecular structure that is almost identical to that of human red blood cells (hemoglobin). The main difference is that red blood cell molecules have an iron atom at the center, while chlorophyll molecules have a magnesium atom at the center.
Health Benefits of Chlorophyll – How it can help us
Very few studies have been done with humans on the benefits of consuming chlorophyll. But based on the structure of chlorophyll and what we do know about how it affects the organs and bloodstream, it has the potential to support our health in the following ways:
Chlorophyll is an incredible blood purifier. It helps clear toxins out of the blood while improving the blood’s ability to carry oxygen. Consuming chlorophyll can increase red blood cell count.
It also alkalinizes the blood. When our blood is slightly alkaline, we have more energy and higher resistance to disease. Illness cannot thrive in an alkaline (oxygenated) environment, and adjusting our global diet to include more alkalinizing foods may help us live longer (source).
* Digestive Health
Chlorophyll cleanses and nourishes the colon, ensuring better elimination and digestion. Food is broken down and assimilated more efficiently when the colon is clear and functioning optimally. Chlorophyll may also interfere with the reproductive process of colon cancer cells.
Chlorophyll has been shown to protect the body from cancer causing compounds by binding with the carcinogenic substances and storing them in the digestive tract until they can be eliminated (source).
* Mineral Assimilation
Consuming chlorophyll can help the body absorb other nutrients. It seems to work synergistically with iron, calcium, and vitamins C, E, and K to increase the assimilation of these nutrients. And dietary chlorophyll from plants or algae provides essential magnesium.
* No Toxicity
While consuming chlorophyll or chlorophyllin supplements can sometimes turn the urine and feces green or black, there are no known toxic affects from chlorophyll. Large doses of chlorophyll, however, can cause diarrhea, a yellowing of the tongue, and increased skin sensitivity to sunlight.
Sources of Green Goodness
If it’s naturally green, it probably has some chlorophyll in it. The darker the color of the plant, the more chlorophyll it contains. Especially rich sources of chlorophyll include:
- Green Leafy Sprouts
- Mustard Greens
- Turnip Greens
- Edible Algae
- Sea Vegetables (sun dried)
- Green Cabbage
It is important to note that the chlorophyll is only present in raw vegetables. Cooking transforms the magnesium atom at the center of the chlorophyll molecule into hydrogen. That’s why cooked green vegetables turn grey-ish – cook the veggie, lose the chlorophyll.
It is also worth noting that there is a difference between the chlorophyll that occurs naturally in leafy greens, superfoods, and some supplements, and the synthetic chlorophyllin that makes up most “liquid chlorophyll” supplements.
Chlorophyllin has a copper atom at the center instead of magnesium. It still has some of the benefits of chlorophyll, such as supporting detoxification and helping skin wounds heal faster, but it does not increase blood alkalinity nor does it provide dietary magnesium.
Concentrated Life Force
In addition to including more raw green vegetables in your diet, you can benefit from chlorophyll by supplementing. Chlorophyll is available as pills and liquid, which can be added to drinking water. Liquid chlorophyll is especially helpful for treating bad breath, and it goes directly to the blood stream for quick absorption. Just be sure that your supplement is true chlorophyll and not chlorophyllin if you want the alkalinizing and anti-cancer benefits.
Chlorophyll is also found in very high concentrations in the bright green superfoods, spirulina, chlorella, and blue-green algae. These are the easiest way to include chlorophyll in your diet if you do not have access to fresh whole green vegetables.
These super greens also contain supportive minerals, and are helpful at treating and preventing anemia. Chlorella especially is helpful for preventing anemia and supporting overall health as it contains B12, iron, and vitamin D.
Nearly all life on this planet exists because of sunlight. And it is chlorophyll that is responsible for photosynthesis, the process that converts that light into nutrients we can eat. Chlorophyll gives the green to our plants and the oxygen to our blood. Luckily, there are countless sources of this life-giving molecule all around us. So despite Kermit the Frog’s despair at being the color of grass, we are benefited by the fact that it’s easy to be green.