Chlorophyll is a marvelous molecule that makes our world green. It is the source of the beautiful green color in plants and algae. Besides the gift of green, it has much more to offer us. In plants, chlorophyll is an essential part of photosynthesis, the process that converts energy from sunlight into the chemical forms of energy, including sugars and other organic molecules, such as proteins. This is the basis of life on earth. When we eat plants, we gain the chemical energy they have stored. But this unique molecule has other properties that are just now being discovered.
When your parents or grandparents told you to “Eat your greens”, they were so right. Including greens in your diet is important for getting plenty of chlorophyll. There are a lot of reasons why chlorophyll is beneficial:
- A study conducted by researchers from Oregon State University, has found that chlorophyll combines with carcinogens in tobacco smoke, cooked meat and the most potent carcinogen of all, aflatoxin B1, and interferes with their absorption during digestion which makes them much less digestible in the intestines, so most of the carcinogens just pass right through harmlessly.
- Chlorophyll is a powerful antioxidant which can reduce the damage to proteins, lipids and DNA caused by normal metabolism, as well as by oxidants ingested from cigarette smoke, pesticides, air pollution and even as alcohol and some drugs.
- Studies have shown that there is a decreased incidence of colon and liver cancers in people who eat a large amount of chlorophyll.
- Other studies have shown that chlorophyll aids in building up the red blood cells in your body, preventing anemia and keeping your energy levels up.
- Foods containing high levels of chlorophyll are excellent for colon health and for preventing constipation.
As you can see, it’s very important to eat your greens in order to reap the great benefits of chlorophyll. What greens are the best? Dark, leafy greens contain the most chlorophyll, especially spinach. Spinach contains the highest concentration of chlorophyll. Other plants that are rich in chlorophyll are kale, Swiss chard, garden cress, parsley, arugula and leeks. Even green beans are a good source, as is Chinese cabbage, green peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus and peas. Some fruits are also good sources, such as green apples, honeydew melons and especially kiwis. Wheatgrass, the young immature wheat, is also rich in chlorophyll.
There are claims that chlorophyll can aid in weight loss, although no studies have been done. It does make sense since the plants that contain chlorophyll are exactly those you should be eating in your diet if you want to lose weight. These nutrient foods fill you up with fiber rather than calories which helps in dropping pounds and inches.
The plants mentioned above are also great sources of vitamins, especially vitamins A, C and K, as well as minerals like iron, copper, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Amino acids and proteins are all found in the wonderful plants that contain chlorophyll. Green leafy plants supply us with energy and make life possible. Other great sources include algae and seaweed, which have become more popular in the past decade but are still considered to be supplements rather than food. Below is a power packed salad recipe you can eat anytime during the day for a great source of chlorophyll along with other important vitamins, minerals and nutrients!
Raw Super Greens Power Salad
- mixed kale, collards, chard, spinach
- shredded carrots
- sliced beets
- chopped parsley
- small handful of pine nuts or sliced almonds
- extra virgin olive oil
- balsamic vinegar
This is a super healthy salad which is very easy to make in a matter of minutes. Place all ingredients into a big salad bowl and then drizzle extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar on top along with a pinch of sea salt if desired. If you want some additional protein, add wild salmon, chicken breast or tofu to the mix. Toss it all up and enjoy this delicious nutrient dense super greens power salad!