Is Chlorophyll Actually a Nutritious Thing to Eat?
This faddish "superfood" has been getting attention for a while. But how healthy is it?
In the course of one week, I have heard someone talk about eating chlorophyll as a nutritional supplement on three separate occasions.
Yes, chlorophyll, the green pigment found in high concentrations in plants. Chlorophyll allows these plants to absorb light and convert it into energy. Though we’re talking about photosynthesis right now, we’re not back in sixth grade science class. We are in the age of wellness, where anything can become the next “it” superfood.
“There are so many incredible benefits of chlorophyll," Chef Phuong Tran of Croft Alley at The Standard in Hollywood told me in an email. “It increases red blood cells and has the ability to regenerate and detoxify the body. It helps control hunger and cravings, while stimulating anti-aging enzymes, in turn leaving you with healthy skin, which is always important in Los Angeles.”
Tran swirls grassy-tasting chlorophyll into his “Croft Yoghurt,” a simple breakfast of plain yogurt and berries. The verdant chlorophyll is mixed into the yogurt only partially to create a stunning marbled pattern.
While some supplements, like adaptogens and collagen, have gotten a great deal of mainstream attention recently, chlorophyll’s has been more of a slow burn. In fact, Bon Appetit mentioned Tran’s yogurt back in their 2016 roundup of the coolest food trends. Though it's been a couple years, I’ve noticed the green stuff creeping up more and more often. I’ve seen Whole Foods-brand liquid chlorophyll in a fresh peppermint flavor, and heard podcast hosts wax poetic on bottled cucumber-flavored chlorophyll water. (Tran noted that unflavored chlorophyll brings a bit of a minty flavor on the back end, but many packaged versions are flavored with mint extracts to cut the grassiness.)
The purported health benefits of chlorophyll are enticing: Tran said that chlorophyll is even sometimes called “internal deodorant” as it can neutralize bad breath and body odors. The drink can be taken as a solo shot, or added to water, juice, and smoothies to minimize its intense flavor profile. However, Chef Tran seems to genuinely enjoy experimenting with the ingredient for its flavor and vibrant color, explaining that he adds it to the restaurant’s citrus consommé, makes it into syrup for desserts, and has even used it in cocktails. “I don’t suggest adding it to any hot items, as the heat will destroy the properties in chlorophyll,” he warned.
Sure, a drink that tastes like grass may not be high on your list of must-eat foods right now. But there’s no denying that chlorophyll is nutrient-dense, and if you're looking for a boost, it could be the right choice for you. Of course, if you’re really not into it, you could always leave the green water to the wellness pros and order an extra side of the spinach salad with your omelet.