Adding chlorophyll to juice has become an increasingly popular health trend in recent years. Proponents claim that chlorophyll provides a wide range of benefits, from improving digestion and immune function to increasing energy levels and promoting weight loss. But is adding chlorophyll to your juice as healthy as it sounds? Let’s take a closer look at what chlorophyll is, its proposed benefits, and whether you should consider adding it to your morning juice routine.
What is Chlorophyll?
Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in plants, algae, and cyanobacteria. It’s responsible for the green color of plants and plays a critical role in photosynthesis, the process plants use to convert sunlight into energy.
Structurally, chlorophyll is very similar to hemoglobin, the protein that allows red blood cells to carry oxygen. The main difference is that chlorophyll contains magnesium at its center, while hemoglobin contains iron. This small difference in structure allows chlorophyll to absorb sunlight and convert that energy into a form plants can use.
There are several different types of chlorophyll:
Chlorophyll a is the most abundant type and is found in all higher plants, algae, and cyanobacteria that perform oxygenic photosynthesis.
Chlorophyll b is found in land plants and green algae along with chlorophyll a.
Chlorophyll c is found in certain marine algae.
Chlorophyll d is found in some species of red algae.
The most common forms found in supplements are chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b.
Potential Benefits of Chlorophyll
Advocates say adding chlorophyll to your diet can offer the following benefits:
Some claim the molecular structure of chlorophyll bonds to toxins and helps remove them from the body. However, there is limited evidence that chlorophyll can “detox” the body.
Chlorophyll contains antimicrobial properties that may help reduce odor when consumed. In one study, taking 100 mg of chlorophyll daily helped reduce odor in patients with a colostomy or ileostomy bag (1).
Supports Skin Health
Early research in animals and humans suggests chlorophyll may help protect skin from damage and promote wound healing (2, 3). More studies are needed.
Test tube and animal studies indicate chlorophyll and its breakdown products may have anti-inflammatory effects (4). But human studies are lacking.
Boosts Immune Function
Animal and test-tube studies indicate chlorophyll may stimulate the immune system. A small human study also found taking chlorophyll supplements increased white blood cell counts (5, 6).
Some research suggests liquid chlorophyll could help reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), such as abdominal pain and constipation (7).
Promotes Weight Loss
Due to its ability to block the absorption of fats and carbohydrates, some believe chlorophyll may promote weight loss. However, no human studies have examined this effect.
Lab tests suggest chlorophyll may slow cancer cell growth. However, human studies are needed (8).
Is There Any Research in Humans?
While early lab and animal research on chlorophyll seem promising, very few human studies exist. The health benefits of chlorophyll in humans remain unproven.
Here’s a summary of the available human evidence:
– A study in 20 people found that taking chlorophyll supplements for 4 weeks eased pain and discomfort associated with IBS (7).
– In a study in 40 patients with a colostomy or ileostomy bag, 75% saw a reduction in odor after taking 100 mg of chlorophyll for 6 weeks (1).
– A study in 10 healthy people observed an increase in white blood cells following a 3-week regimen of chlorophyll supplements (5).
– In a 2-week study, males who took green leafy vegetable extracts containing 190 mg of chlorophyll experienced a reduction in DNA damage caused by UV light (9). This may support immune function.
No clinical studies have examined chlorophyll’s effects on cancer prevention or treatment outcomes in humans.
Overall, the current human research on chlorophyll is limited to small studies. More large-scale, high-quality studies are needed.
Possible Side Effects and Safety Concerns
When consumed through whole foods like spinach, chlorophyll is generally considered safe. Extract supplements may cause digestive side effects in sensitive individuals, including:
– Nausea, diarrhea or cramping
– Green stools
– Discolored urine
Due to its ability to inhibit iron absorption, chlorophyll could worsen iron deficiency. Those with anemia should avoid high doses of chlorophyll supplements.
Additionally, very high doses may affect thyroid hormone levels. Start with low doses and speak with your healthcare provider before increasing your intake if you have thyroid issues.
During pregnancy and breastfeeding, it’s best to get chlorophyll through whole food sources instead of supplements until more safety research is available.
Top Food Sources of Chlorophyll
Rather than taking concentrated chlorophyll supplements, you can incorporate more chlorophyll-rich foods into your diet. Here are some of the top food sources:
|Food||Serving||Chlorophyll per Serving|
|Spinach||1 cup (30g) raw||23 mg|
|Parsley||1⁄4 cup (4g) chopped||19 mg|
|Cilantro||1⁄4 cup (4g) chopped||18 mg|
|Chlorella||1 oz (5g)||129 mg|
|Spirulina||1 oz (5g)||115 mg|
|Kale||1 cup (21g) chopped||6 mg|
Should You Add Chlorophyll to Your Juice?
Adding a few sprigs of parsley or spinach to your morning juice will provide a modest dose of chlorophyll along with an array of beneficial plant compounds. This can be a healthy way to incorporate more greens into your diet.
For some people, drinking high chlorophyll green juices may have a detoxifying effect or increase energy levels. However, there is little human evidence that concentrated chlorophyll supplements provide significant benefits.
Ultimately, consuming a diet high in fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and whole grains should be your priority. Incorporating some chlorophyll-rich foods can be a nutritious addition, but don’t force yourself to drink juices you don’t enjoy. Focus on creating sustainable, healthy habits that work for your lifestyle.
The Bottom Line
Early research shows some promising health benefits of chlorophyll, especially for skin health, digestive issues, and immune function. However, human studies remain limited. While whole food sources are safe for most people, speak with your healthcare provider before taking high-dose chlorophyll supplements, especially in pregnancy and if you have anemia or thyroid issues.
For most people, moderate amounts of chlorophyll from greens like spinach, parsley, and cilantro can be a safe, healthy addition to juices and smoothies. But the green pigment alone is unlikely to be a magic bullet for health and wellness. As with most nutrition, aim for balance and variety in your diet to support overall vitality.