Ever wondered what gives the plants their rich and lively green color? It is a pigment called chlorophyll that is responsible for making the stems and leaves of the plants green. Chlorophyll is extremely important for the process of photosynthesis, which is the basis for maintaining the life of all plants. Chlorophyll helps the plants to absorb energy from sunlight and then use this energy to produce carbohydrates from water and carbon dioxide. Since we human beings and other animals depend on plants as a food source, photosynthesis is in fact essential for sustaining life on earth.
Chlorophyll, which is insoluble in water is formed in the chloroplasts of plants and is made of hydrogen, carbon, magnesium, oxygen and nitrogen. There are around 10 types of chlorophyll that has been named chlorophyll-a, chlorophyll-b, chlorophyll-c, and so on, based on their different chemical structures. Apart from being a vital factor for plants, chlorophyll has many commercial uses as well. It is used as a coloring agent in the manufacture of soaps, cosmetics, oils, medicines, and candies.
Health benefits of chlorophyll
Chlorophyll is not just about green color and photosynthesis. The nutritional benefits that we obtain from this substance are innumerable. Given below are a few of the health benefits that chlorophyll offers you.
Chlorophyll cleanses your blood
One of the many benefits of chlorophyll is that it helps in cleansing your blood and is a powerful blood builder. It helps in increasing the number of red blood cells in your blood. The hemoglobin in the red blood cells is responsible for carrying oxygen to all the cells in your body. So an increase in hemoglobin ensures oxygen supply to all parts of your body.
Chlorophyll helps in detoxification
The increased blood and oxygen supply promoted by chlorophyll helps in removing the harmful toxins from the body, hence making it a powerful detoxifying agent. It can also bind with the toxic heavy metals and remove them from your body.
Chlorophyll to combat anemia
The consumption of chlorophyll has been found to help in relieving anemia, a condition caused by a reduction in the number of red blood cells. Chlorophyll encourages the production of red blood cells and also helps to carry oxygen to all parts of the body.
Chlorophyll strengthens the immune system
As mentioned above, chlorophyll increases the oxygen supply to your body. An important advantage of increased oxygen supply is that the anaerobic bacteria that cause many diseases cannot survive in the presence of oxygen. Chlorophyll is also capable of making our blood alkaline in nature, which is another factor that keeps away disease causing germs. All these properties help in strengthening your immune system and improving your overall health.
Chlorophyll eases constipation
Chlorophyll is effective in promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. Liquid chlorophyll helps to relieve digestive problems like gas, bloating, acidity etc.
Chlorophyll for wound healing
Chlorophyll has the power to inhibit the growth of certain types of disease causing anaerobic bacteria. It also helps in speeding up the process of wound healing. Studies reveal that the topical application of chlorophyll helped in healing vascular ulcers and pressure ulcers that were not cured using other treatment methods.
Chlorophyll and treatment of cancer
Chlorophyll has antioxidant properties that make it capable of fighting the growth of cancer causing cells. It can block the metabolism of procarcinogens that are chemicals which can damage your DNA. In this way, chlorophyll protects us from the various carcinogens, thereby inhibiting cancer growth.
Stop bad breath using chlorophyll
Chlorophyll has been found to be an excellent remedy for bad breath. The anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties of this substance help to prevent bad breath and body odor, making it a potential deodorizer. Because of this property, chlorophyll has gained immense popularity as a natural solution to solve body odor problems.
Benefits of Chlorophyll for weight loss
Chlorophyll can help you lose weight. It helps in weight loss by stimulating the production of enzymes that can break down fatty acids to produce energy. Chlorophyll also contains phytanic acid that also causes the movement of fatty acids out of your fat cells into your blood stream so that it can used to create energy. Research also suggests that chlorophyll is a good appetite suppressant. A study published in the journal of Phytotherapy Research in the year 2009, pointed out that chlorophylls contain compounds called thylakoids that are capable of reducing your appetite by satiating your hunger and inducing a feeling of fullness.
Chlorophyll lowers cholesterol
Chlorophyll is effective in lowering bad cholesterol levels. Scientists have discovered that the derivatives of chlorophyll were able to slow down the oxidation of bad cholesterol or LDL. High levels of LDL can lead to conditions like cardiovascular disease and stroke. By lowering the LDL levels, chlorophyll helps in reducing the risks of developing these conditions.
Chlorophyll and blood pressure
According to recent findings, magnesium may be able to reduce blood pressure in people suffering from high blood pressure. One of the benefits of consuming chlorophyll is that it is high in magnesium content and hence can be an excellent remedy for high blood pressure.
Chlorophyll benefits and cardiovascular health
As chlorophyll promotes increased blood circulation and oxygen transportation, it is very important in keeping your heart healthy and functioning at its optimum capacity. Chlorophyll is rich in magnesium which is very vital to your heart health. Regular intake of magnesium has been found to lower the risks of cardiac arrest and other cardiovascular problems.
Chlorophyll benefits for skin
Chlorophyll can offer amazing health benefits to your skin as well. Chlorophyllin, which is a substance obtained from chlorophyll is widely used in skin care products. Studies reveal that both chlorophyllin and chlorophyll has antioxidant properties, which help in reducing the damages caused by oxidation of the cells in the body. Oxidation of cells is a major factor that accelerates the process of aging, causing damage to your skin in the form of fine lines, dark spots and wrinkles. Since chlorophyll is a powerful antioxidant, it can fight against the free radicals that lead to oxidative damage, thus inhibiting the aging process and protecting your skin from damage.
Chlorophyll, when applied on the skin has the ability to function as a sunscreen and protect your skin from the harmful effects of the ultraviolet rays. Another important benefit of chlorophyll is that it can destroy the bacteria on the skin as well as prevent the growth of bacteria. Since chlorophyll has antibacterial property that helps to prevent acne breakouts and eliminate infection, many products used in the treatment of acne contain chlorophyll and its derivatives.
Chlorophyll benefits for liver health
Chlorophyll has been used as a supplement for a long time for detoxifying the liver. It increases the supply of oxygen that is essential for the proper functioning of the liver. It has been considered that by increasing oxygen in the blood stream, chlorophyll helps to cleanse your body and remove the toxic substances from your liver, intestinal tract, blood stream etc.
Chlorophyll for healthy bones and strong muscles
Calcium, magnesium and vitamin D are vital nutrients that are considered to be essential for keeping your bones strong and healthy. Since chlorophyll is a rich source of magnesium, consuming it can help you maintain healthy bones. The magnesium content in chlorophyll is also helpful in contracting and relaxing your muscles and keeping it strong.
Sources of chlorophyll
Generally, any green plant that you take contains chlorophyll. However the amount of this pigment varies in different plants. High levels of chlorophyll are usually found in plants having dark green color. Hence leafy vegetables with dark green color are a great source of chlorophyll. Some examples include kale, Swiss chard etc. Wheatgrass also contains high levels of chlorophyll. Other good sources of chlorophyll include chlorella, spirulina, cilantro, parsley, broccoli, turnip greens, green beans, green and blue-green algae, sprouts, spinach, broccoli, asparagus, celery, bell pepper, Brussels sprouts, green peas, green cabbage, etc.
What is liquid chlorophyll?
As the name implies, liquid chlorophyll is chlorophyll in the liquid form, often sold as a health supplement. Drinking liquid chlorophyll can offer you all the benefits that you can get by eating foods that contain chlorophyll. The advantage of consuming chlorophyll in the liquid form is that your body can absorb it easily.
Any side effects of chlorophyll?
Although chlorophyll is generally very safe to use, there may be mild side effects such as gastrointestinal problems and skin problems. The common gastrointestinal problems may include diarrhea, nausea, abdominal pain and green colored stools. Prolonged use of chlorophyll make cause green-colored urine in some people.
What is really interesting about chlorophyll is how it is very much similar to hemoglobin or the red blood cells. Hemoglobin is the pigment that gives red color to your blood and carries oxygen to the different parts of your body. In fact hemoglobin and chlorophyll have almost the same molecular structure except for the difference in the center atom. While the center atom is magnesium in the case of chlorophyll, it is iron in hemoglobin. It is due to this similarity in structure and function that chlorophyll is often called as the green blood of plants.Image Credits: Flickr - Anderson Mancini, Flickr - David Goehring