Chlorophyll has become a popular supplement in recent years, with claims that it can help improve health in many ways. Some of the proposed benefits of chlorophyll include reducing inflammation, aiding detoxification, improving skin health, speeding wound healing, and promoting weight loss.
Many people are now adding chlorophyll supplements or liquid chlorophyll to their daily smoothies. But is chlorophyll actually good for smoothies? Let’s take a detailed look at the evidence.
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.
Specifically, chlorophyll absorbs light in the red and blue regions of the visible light spectrum. This energy is used to drive photosynthesis, allowing plants to convert carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates and oxygen.
The basic structure of chlorophyll consists of a porphyrin ring with a central magnesium ion, plus a long hydrophobic phytol chain. There are several different forms of chlorophyll, but chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b are the most common in land plants.
Chlorophyll can be extracted from green leafy vegetables and algae for use as a food coloring or supplement. The most common supplemental forms are chlorophyllin and liquid chlorophyll.
Chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic mixture of sodium copper salts derived from chlorophyll. Liquid chlorophyll is typically made by extracting chlorophyll from alfalfa or other leafy greens.
Potential Benefits of Chlorophyll
Here are some of the main health benefits that have been investigated for chlorophyll supplements and liquid chlorophyll:
Some research shows chlorophyll and its breakdown products may act as antioxidants, helping to neutralize harmful free radicals and reduce oxidative damage to cells and tissues.
Chlorophyll may help inhibit inflammation by blocking pro-inflammatory signaling molecules like nitric oxide and tumor necrosis factor alpha. This may reduce risk for chronic inflammatory diseases.
Chlorophyll is sometimes called a natural “detoxifier” since it can bind to toxins and heavy metals in the gut, potentially limiting absorption and aiding elimination. However, the evidence is still limited in humans.
Early research found applying chlorophyllin to the skin reduced skin damage from UV radiation. Chlorophyll may also promote wound healing. More studies are needed to confirm these skin benefits.
By promoting detoxification, reducing inflammation, and through other potential mechanisms, chlorophyll may aid weight loss. But human data directly linking chlorophyll to reduced weight is lacking.
Chlorophyll is not an adequate substitute for iron supplementation in iron deficiency anemia. But the copper in chlorophyllin may help improve red blood cell counts.
Animal and test tube studies suggest chlorophyll may have anti-carcinogenic effects. But human studies are needed to verify whether chlorophyll helps prevent cancer in people.
Potential Risks of Chlorophyll Supplements
Chlorophyll supplements appear to have low toxicity when used orally in normal doses. However, there are a few potential health risks to be aware of:
– Chlorophyllin contains copper, which can accumulate in the liver and cause toxicity at high doses over long periods.
– Liquid chlorophyll and chlorophyllin have potential to interact with medications broken down by the CYP2B6 enzyme or processed by P-glycoprotein.
– Topical chlorophyllin may increase sensitivity to sunlight and risk of sunburn.
– In one case report, an intravenous injection of chlorophyll led to an anaphylactic reaction. Oral supplements do not appear to have this risk.
Overall, short-term oral use of chlorophyll supplements at recommended doses appears to have a low risk of side effects for most people. But more studies on long-term safety are needed.
Does Chlorophyll Have Benefits for Smoothies?
Based on its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and potential detoxification properties, adding chlorophyll supplements or liquid chlorophyll to smoothies could theoretically provide some health benefits.
A few specific ways chlorophyll may add to the nutritional value of smoothies include:
Increasing antioxidant content
Adding chlorophyll may increase the antioxidant capacity of a smoothie, providing more phytonutrients to neutralize oxidative stress.
Phytonutrients for health
Chlorophyll provides unique phytonutrients not found in other typical smoothie ingredients. This may broaden the range of plant compounds and potential health benefits.
Some claim chlorophyll can bind to toxins like aflatoxin and heterocyclic amines formed when cooking meat, potentially limiting exposure from other ingredients. But more research is needed to confirm this benefit.
For veggie-based green smoothies, extra chlorophyll may complement the natural chlorophyll in greens like spinach, kale, parsley, etc.
However, there is still limited direct evidence showing that adding chlorophyll to smoothies provides measurable health benefits in humans. More studies specifically analyzing the effects of chlorophyll-enriched smoothies are needed.
Potential Downsides to Adding Chlorophyll
While including chlorophyll in smoothies likely won’t cause significant adverse effects for most people in the short-term, there are a few potential downsides:
High doses of chlorophyll supplements or liquid chlorophyll can create unpleasant metallic, bitter tastes. Start with small amounts and adjust to taste preferences.
Chlorophyll smoothies will be deep green, which some find unappetizing. Can mix with fruits like pineapple, mango, or berries to adjust color.
High intakes of chlorophyll supplements may cause mild gastrointestinal side effects like loose stools or diarrhea in sensitive people. Reduce dose if this occurs.
Interactions with medications
Chlorophyll could potentially interact with drugs broken down by CYP2B6 liver enzymes. Talk to a doctor if taking prescription medications.
Topical chlorophyllin increases skin sensitivity to UV light. Chlorophyll smoothies likely don’t have this same effect when ingested.
There is no official recommended dosage for chlorophyll from supplements. But based on typical doses used in research studies, the following daily dosages may be reasonable:
– Chlorophyllin: 100-300 mg per day
– Liquid chlorophyll: 1-4 teaspoons (4-16 mL) per day
Start with lower doses and increase cautiously to assess tolerance, especially when adding to smoothies. Also keep in mind multi-gram doses have been used safely for a limited time in some studies.
It’s also best to get a variety of chlorophyll-rich foods like leafy greens in your diet instead of solely relying on supplements. Aim for at least 2-3 daily servings of veggies high in chlorophyll.
How to Add Chlorophyll to Smoothies
If you want to incorporate chlorophyll into smoothies, here are some tips:
Types of chlorophyll supplements
– Chlorophyllin tablets: Available at health food stores; add 1-2 tablets per smoothie
– Liquid chlorophyll: Add 1-4 tsp (4-16mL); available in different flavors
Blend with fruits and veggies
Chlorophyll blends best with fruits like pineapple, mango, berries and leafy greens like spinach, kale, parsley, etc. Can also add to green juice.
Add last and blend briefly
For best color and taste, add chlorophyll supplements/liquid as last ingredient. Only blend enough to mix throughout.
Dosage and timing
Start with lower doses like 1-2 tsp liquid chlorophyll or 100mg chlorophyllin. Take up to 1-2 times daily, like with breakfast and lunch smoothies.
Keep liquid chlorophyll supplements refrigerated and away from heat and sunlight once opened for longest shelf life.
|Chlorophyllin||Tablets or capsules||100-300mg daily|
|Liquid Chlorophyll||Drops or tinctures||1-4 tsp (4-16mL) daily|
This table summarizes the typical supplemental forms of chlorophyll, their dosage forms, and suggested daily dosages. Start low and increase gradually to find the optimal dosage.
Chlorophyll Smoothie Recipes
Here are a few tasty smoothie recipes that incorporate chlorophyll:
Detox Green Smoothie
– 1 cup baby spinach
– 1 cup coconut water
– 1 banana
– 1/4 avocado
– 1 tsp matcha green tea powder
– 1-2 tsp liquid chlorophyll
Green Pineapple Chlorophyll Smoothie
– 1 cup pineapple chunks
– 1 cup kale or spinach
– 1 cup coconut milk
– 1 tbsp hemp seeds
– 1-2 tsp liquid chlorophyll
Blueberry Chlorophyll Smoothie
– 1 cup blueberries
– 1 cup almond milk
– 1 scoop plant-based protein powder
– 1 tbsp almond butter
– 1 tsp liquid chlorophyll
The fruits, leafy greens, plant milks, and protein powders provide nutritional benefits while the chlorophyll provides extra antioxidants and phytonutrients. Adjust ingredients and chlorophyll dose to taste preferences.
Should You Add Chlorophyll to Smoothies?
Chlorophyll may provide potential health benefits thanks to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties. Adding chlorophyll supplements or liquid chlorophyll to smoothies can safely increase your daily intake of chlorophyll.
While human studies confirming the benefits of chlorophyll-enriched smoothies are lacking, getting extra chlorophyll from supplements poses little risk for most people when used short-term at reasonable dosages.
The green color may take some getting used to. But start slow and combine chlorophyll with fruits, leafy greens, plant milks, and other smoothie ingredients to make the color and taste more palatable.
Adding a dash of chlorophyll into your daily smoothie a few times a week provides a simple, convenient way to get supplemental chlorophyll with minimal risk. Just don’t solely rely on liquid chlorophyll or chlorophyll supplements alone and make sure to get plenty of chlorophyll-containing vegetables in your regular diet.
Incorporating chlorophyll supplements into smoothies is a popular health trend that may provide potential benefits related to reducing oxidative stress and inflammation, among other proposed benefits.
While human research on chlorophyll-enriched smoothies is lacking, getting supplemental doses of chlorophyll is unlikely to pose risks for most people when used for short periods at moderate dosages.
Chlorophyll has a strong green color and unique taste that takes some getting used to when adding to smoothies. Start with low doses, combine with flavorful ingredients like fruits and greens, and adjust recipes to your preferences.
Smoothies provide a convenient delivery method to get supplemental chlorophyll from tablets, drops, or powered in addition to the chlorophyll naturally occurring in whole foods. While not a magic bullet on its own, adding chlorophyll may be an easy wellness strategy that provides clean, plant-based nutrition to start your day.