When it comes to choosing healthy ingredients, we generally know that “green is good”. But why? The answer lies in “chlorophyll”, the dominant green pigment found in plants. Although plants can have many different pigments, a vibrant green color indicates that they contain substantial amounts of chlorophyll.
More on Chlorophyll
Chlorophyll is often referred to as “plant blood” because it is to plants what hemoglobin is to the human body. While these have similar structures, the difference is that hemoglobin is a protein complex surrounding iron, while at the center of the chlorophyll molecule is an atom of magnesium. Chlorophyll is crucial for photosynthesis, allowing plants to take sunlight and converting it into usable energy. In addition to being a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants, it also acts as an anti-inflammatory, aids digestion and is thought to enhance the absorption and utilization of vitamins and minerals. Known as “nature’s deodorant”, chlorophyll has been helpful in treating bad breath and body odour as it is thought to assist in detoxifying the liver, blood and colon. It also has commonly been used for oral hygiene and as a treatment for athlete’s foot. While most plant foods contain at least small amounts of chlorophyll, green vegetables are an especially concentrated source of this nutrient.
Top chlorophyll-containing foods include asparagus, leafy greens, green bell peppers, celery, cucumbers, green beans, green peas, leeks, green olives, parsley and green sea vegetables. However, not all chlorophyll-containing foods are vegetables, these also exist in the nuts and seeds group (i.e. pistachio nuts) and in fruits (i.e. green grapes or kiwi).
Two specific ingredients that have been receiving more attention include algae cousins, chlorella and spirulina. These are vegan protein sources that are together, known as “aqua greens”. They are said to help detoxify, alkalize, protect and energize the body.
Chlorella contains the highest concentration of chlorophyll of any plant on earth. Along with chlorophyll, chlorella contains concentrated levels of protein (with all the essential amino acids) and essential fats, along with complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins, and minerals and antioxidants. Researchers are finding that chlorella intake has a positive effect on blood cholesterol, blood sugar and appetite control. In addition, studies also show that chlorella has the power to remove toxins and heavy metals from the body. Chlorella contains an indigestible cell wall that serves as a fibre and as a natural prebiotic that promotes probiotic activity in the intestinal tract. Spirulina is called an “ancient green superfood” that grows naturally in a few alkaline lakes around the world. This type of algae contains an impressive 60-70% protein content by weight, providing all the essential amino acids! It gets its green colour from chlorophyll and its blue hues from naturally-occurring phycocyanin pigment.
Spirulina also serves as a natural source of minerals (including iron, calcium, potassium, and magnesium), along with B-vitamins, essential fats, (especially omega 6 GLA), complex carbohydrates, fibre and a wide range of antioxidants, such as important carotenoids (i.e. zeaxanthin, beta carotene, lutein) which help support disease prevention. Researchers have found that spirulina intake reduces blood cholesterol and inflammation and that regular supplementation also removes accumulated toxins in the body, creating a gentle and safe daily cleansing effect. Other potential health benefits of spirulina consumption include boosting immune function, counteracting viruses, protecting the liver, controlling appetite, fighting fat and supporting the adrenal glands. Spirulina has some of the most concentrated nutrients you can find per ounce than almost any other food on the planet. For example, by comparable weight spirulina has been said to have 3900% more beta carotene than carrots, 300% more calcium than cow’s milk and 2300% more iron than spinach!
In addition to plenty of wholesome green foods, consider incorporating “aqua greens” supplement powders into your diet, in order to experience the alkalizing, detoxifying, energizing and protective effects of chlorophyll.
-This column is sponsored by Good N Natural in Steinbach-