We’ve all heard how it’s important to “eat your greens.” This is because green fruits and vegetables are high in various vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that we need for living a healthy life.
But like so many things in our instant, fast-paced world, many of us are always on the lookout for a “miracle food” shortcut that’ll make it easier to get these nutrients. And in recent years, some folks thought they found it with something called chlorophyllin, also known as “liquid chlorophyll.”
While chlorophyll supplements have been around for years, liquid chlorophyll recently gained popularity through social media. Celebrities and other social media users began boasting of supposed benefits that provide everything from increased energy to cancer prevention. But does the truth match the hype?
What is chlorophyll?
Chlorophyll is the pigment that gives green plants their color and allows them to convert sunlight into nutrients through photosynthesis. In addition to helping these plants grow and thrive, chlorophyll is also beneficial to humans and is present in dark green, leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, romaine lettuce and arugula. Other good sources include broccoli, parsley, green beans, kiwi and green grapes.
The green drops of liquid chlorophyll that you may be seeing all over the internet are actually chlorophyllin. Chlorophyllin is a semi-synthetic version of chlorophyll that is also available in powder and tablet forms.
Manufacturers and proponents of liquid chlorophyll claim the drops can help in a variety of impressive ways, including:
- Cancer prevention
- Weight loss
- Improved digestive health
- Controlling body odor
- Reduced inflammation
- Acne treatment
- Increased energy
What does the research say?
“While liquid chlorophyll does contain vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and appears to be safe, we just don’t know enough about its health benefits because the research has been very limited,” said Ashley Simper, a registered dietitian at OSF HealthCare.
Much of the research done on chlorophyll has been its topical use, and some studies have shown it may serve as an acne treatment. But many medical professionals agree that more studies are needed before definitive recommendations can be made.
Looking to add healthier foods to your diet?
“You should always talk to your doctor or a pharmacist before taking any supplement. One of the key reasons is to ensure it doesn’t interact with any medications you may be taking,” Ashley said. “For example, the Vitamin K present in both liquid chlorophyll and green fruits and vegetables can interact poorly with certain blood thinners, so it’s important to get advice from a health care professional.”
Foods are better
“The good news is you can get all of the chlorophyll you need from many fruits and vegetables, and it’s less expensive than getting it through a supplement,” Ashley said. “We already have solid research showing the disease-fighting benefits that these foods have on our health. That’s why I always recommend that patients eat whole foods first. You’ll get a greater variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber from whole foods than from supplements.”
So, when you’re at the grocery store, steer your cart to the produce department and stock up on all your favorites. A variety of fresh, frozen and canned produce contain not only chlorophyll, but a whole host of other pigments containing vitamins and minerals your body needs that you won’t find packed in the green drops. Eating a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables maximizes the nutrients you put in your body as each color provides different benefits.
“While supplements are good, they’re not a substitute for a balanced diet and regular physical exercise,” Ashley said.