In some circles, green juice is a daily requirement for good nutrition. But liquefied kale, cucumbers, and celery isn’t the only bottle of liquid green out there. Many juice shops (and some grocery stores) also sell chlorophyll water or chlorophyll shots, which are about as bright green as a drink can come. And many people can’t stop talking about the many chlorophyll benefits they’ve experienced.
What exactly is this green machine and why would anyone drink it? Maybe because wellness gurus spout off a list of claims about what it does for your body. But there isn’t a lot of science behind most of these statements. To become a more knowledgeable chlorophyll consumer, here’s what chlorophyll is, why people are drinking it, and what (if anything) it can do for you to decide if you want to give it a try.
What Is Chlorophyll?
If “chlorophyll” rings bells but you can’t remember why, think back to elementary school biology. “Chlorophyll are the green pigments found in cyanobacteria and the chloroplasts of algae and plants,” explains Jonathan Valdez, MBA, RDN and owner of Genki Nutrition. “It’s responsible for absorbing light in order to provide energy via photosynthesis.”
What foods contain chlorophyll?
Spinach, 1 cup: 23.7 mg
Parsley, 1/2 cup: 19.0 mg
Garden cress, 1 cup: 15.6 mg
Green beans,1 cup: 8.3 mg
Arugula, 1 cup: 8.2 mg
Leeks, 1 cup: 7.7 mg
Endive, 1 cup: 5.2 mg
Sugar peas, 1 cup: 4.8 mg
Chinese cabbage, 1 cup: 4.1 mg
If you don’t feel like chomping down on a cup or so of veggies, wheatgrass is also packed with the pigment. It’s made up of 70 percent chlorophyll, so you only need to consume 3.5 grams (approximately 1 rounded tsp.) to get approximately 18.5 milligrams of chlorophyll. Now that’s efficient.
3 Potential Chlorophyll Benefits
Again we come back to the question, why are people so excited about consuming this green pigment? It’s likely because of the many purported benefits of chlorophyll circulating in health circles, including:
reducing the risk of cancer
However, the evidence that this green pigment delivers on these promises is thin.
Let’s take a look at the weight loss claim first. Swedish researchers performed a small study in 2014 where 38 women ate three meals daily and increased their physical activity. Half of the women consumed five grams of chlorophyll-filled green plant membranes before breakfast each day, while the others took a placebo. After 12 weeks, the supplement group had lost about three pounds more than the control group lost.
An earlier study by the same researchers found that consuming thylakoids (membranes in green leaves that contain chlorophyll) may suppress appetite. However, this was another small study with only 20 women.
“There’s not good sufficient evidence to support weight-loss claims,” says Openfit nutrition manager Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD. “Chlorophyll isn’t a magic bullet.”